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Philip Larkin's "Church Going" takes us along on a cynic's journey to religious appreciation.

We travel from the ugliness of disbelief to finally end up in a congenial peace. The "... tense, musty, unignorable silence" inside of theCatholic church is the sound of the reader's trepidation echoing. Larkin repeatedly subjects religious iconography to abuse calling it "some brass and stuff." The church has a "holy end," presuming that God has all He can do to rule his own roost completely. None of these things matter to Larkin the critic or the persona narrating the poem. To the author it is just "another church," its particular superstitions and beliefs conflated with and lost among those of the others. "Brewed God," no doubt pokes fun at the Eucharist. The poem is seven stanzas long with nine lines in each.The first and third, fifth and eighth, and seventh and ninth lines rhyme. The first two stanzas set up the conflict, the second pair creates a universe without churches, "Parchment, plate, and pyx (vessel in which the Eucharist is carried) locked in cases," and the remaining stanzas carry the force of the persona's final, stirring resolution. Larkin was always smug about the value of institutional religion throughout his body of work. As in "An Arundel Tomb," the particular details of personal, religious experience loom much larger than religious doctrine. He "mounts the lectern" to read verse, at least insinuating an ultimate and ugly act of dominion over religious ritual. The verses are "hectoring," and "large-scale." They bother the narrator and threaten to cover over the truth of his personal quest for spiritual wholeness. The narrator begins his exit by the end of the second stanza. He signs the book, leaves an offering, and almost misses the point until a transformation happens. The persona was not ready. Upon entering he was careful to make sure there was "nothing going on." He finds the outward signs of pure, uncritical belief very troubling. As if a "simple" or the touch of a holy stone could cure cancer. Still, by the end we know the truth. Ultimately the value of a church is independent of superstition or the value of the supernatural worshiped inside. "Power of some sort or other will go on/ In games, in riddles, seemingly at random," even if there is no more church. Larkin offers a personal concession to the power of the place, "For whom was built This special shell? For, though I've no idea what this accoutred frowsty barn is worth, It pleases me to stand in silence here." Even to an irrepressible existentialist who cared little for religion an essential truth comes calling. The richness of religion is tied up in human longing.