Why faith matters

George Eliot in defense of evangelicalism, 1854:

No man can begin to mould himself on a faith or an idea
without rising to a higher order of experience: a principle of
subordination, of self-mastery, has been introduced into his nature;

How does that work?

he is no longer a mere bundle of impressions, desires, and impulses.

But these people put me off.

Whatever might be the weaknesses of the ladies who pruned the luxuriance of their lace and ribbons, cut out garments for the poor, distributed tracts, quoted Scripture, and defined the true Gospel, they had learned this–that there was a divine work to be done in life, a rule of goodness higher than the opinion of their neighbours; and if the notion of a heaven in reserve for themselves was a little too prominent, yet the theory of fitness for that heaven consisted in purity of heart, in Christ-like compassion, in the subduing of selfish desires.

Well, when you put it that way . . .  I still don’t like them . . .

They might give the name of piety to much that was only puritanic egoism; they might call many things sin that were not sin; but they had at least the feeling that sin was to be avoided and resisted, and colour-blindness, which may mistake drab for scarlet, is better than total blindness, which sees no distinction of colour at all.

Oh. Nobody’s perfect, but consider what they have that overwhelmingly matters. I think I get it.

Yes, Ms. Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), a fallen-away Evangelical, kept her wits about her and had to be honest about her former fellow church-goers.

I say, read her. She may be the best of the Victorians.


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