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In "Church Going" by Philip Larkin, a narrator is visiting an open but empty small country church. It is obviously an Aglican church somewhere in rural England. The narrator reveals that he is in the habit of doing this but is somewhat bewildered as to his own motives, saying:
Yet stop I did: in fact I often do,
And always end much at a loss like this,
Wondering what to look for …
As he spends longer in the church, he wonders if the church is meaningful in a secular age, or whether the church will stop being used and end up only visited by people like himself, not worshippers but somehow still with an odd sense of reverence. The longer he spends in the church, the more he comes to appreciate its moral and spiritual seriousness, and even undergoes an understated epiphany, realizing that the church is not "obsolete", but even for him, as it has been for generations of worshippers, a place it "was proper to grow wise in."
In Larkin's Church Going, the narrator visits a church after ensuring that it is empty. After closing the door, he reflects that it is simply another "church" which consists of the usual items seen in a church such as, seats, flowers and books. He recognises the silence inside the church as "musty" and "unignorable." Since he has no hat to take off out of respect, he decides to remove his cycle clips in "awkward reverence" though he is an atheist. After examining the inside of the church, he donates an Irish sixpence and arrives at the decision that the church is not a place worth stopping for. However, since he has actually stopped at a church, he thinks of what will happen to churches if they are not used by people for religious activities, and comes to the conclusion that church is a serious place due to the fact that it is connected with birth, marriage and death.
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