It is between Dorothea and Will.
Dorothea is married to this dust-farting old guy that is about as exciting as a bag of dryer-lint.
Will is a swarthy, curly-haired, hot-looking single guy…. artistic-minded.
You do the math!
They are both powerfully attracted to each other, but Will is more aware of it at this point, than is the ever-ethical Dorothea.
They are sitting in the library of the house…
“What is your religion?” said Dorothea. “I mean – not what you know about religion, but the belief that helps you most?”
“To love what is good and beautiful when I see it,” said Will. “But I am a rebel: I don’t feel bound, as you do, to submit to what I don’t like.”
“But if you like what is good, that comes to the same thing,” said Dorothea, smiling.
It’s from chapter 39.
I felt that this passage of dialogue was not only wonderfully written, but had some profound insight and depth to it.
Wouldn’t it be great, if rather than wondering what “religion” people adhered to, we could focus our attention [not only outwardly, but inwardly] upon “the belief that helps us most?”
Religion is most often defined as the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods. But there are so many variants in such a description of the word, that I really wonder…. is it not almost meaningless, connotation-wise?
Among other things, who is this "super-human" being?
I think that Dorothea is uttering a profound thing here, to Will.
Because really… if there is something, or perhaps an entire system of things, that “helps you” or “moves you” or “motivates you” toward a better understanding of who you yourself know yourself to be… isn’t this thing, whatever it may be, more important when it comes to the distilled version of who you ARE than would be the adherence to a pre-scripted set of religious criteria?
There are only two other sort of options available, aside from saying “Yes” to the above question.
One is to live in a sort of denial of the fundamental reaches of your inner being.
The other is to subject these realms of yourself so dramatically to a concept of what is religiously “correct” [← and how subjective is this option] that you come to identify the “ideal” concept of yourself as being that which is unattainably perfect. [Some might substitute the word “enlightened” for "perfect."]
Regardless…. I would call both options not only futile, but sad.
In other words, I am suggesting that Dorothea asks the best question we can ask.
And Will answers it in the best way possible.