First published in 1905, The Lake is a naturalist novel written by George Augustus Moore, who is often regarded as the first great modern Irish novelist, and whose work influenced the like of James Joyce, or specifically, James Joyce. --Thus says Wiki. I read the novel in that context, so as not to expect modern American literary or social explorations that I've come to love after reading, say, David Foster Wallace or Thomas Pynchon.
The joke was on me. Today, in the Magazine section of NYT I read an article titled, From Bible-Belt Pastor to Atheist Leader, by Robert Worth about a preacher named Jerry DeWitt, who, at the end of the article is quoted: "In the end, I couldn’t help feeling that all religion, even the most loving kind, is just a speed bump in the progress of the human race." The article and The Lake recount the journey of a minister/priest through a struggle and loss of faith. I hate that phrase--loss of faith--because their stories are more a rending of blindfolds exposing a different facet of truth. Deeply moving, honest, and brave, those tales. The subject is as current now as it was in 1905. Fear and social pressure are huge factors in what we believe, as are the comfort beliefs and community can give. As for Truth, no matter what you believe, one has to admire the courage of men and women who dare to search for it.