I wonder if this is fair comment, from Hegel's point rather than that of Victorian society of the late 1850's, which in the face of Darwin's 'Origin' and the influence of other cultural and political factors was certainly going through a crisis of faith. (Pusey had earlier noted that "in the alleyways of London the Gospels are as little know as in Tibet", a comment regarding the fact that although outwardly the society of the day was still upholding a Christian face, beneath the surface there was a definite questioning of the doctrine, if not an outright disinterest.)The crisis that Hegel was struggling to describe was the crisis of a civilisation that has discovered the God upon whom it depended to be also its own creation.
But putting this aside, I'm more interested Wos, in what you as presumably a committed Christian, made of the Chrons at that first encounter? I can only imagine that your reading of it could only have been very different from that of many, if not most, readers, for whom Christianity was quite possibly not such a big part of their lives?
Forgive me if this is an impudent assumption on my part - I was a notoriously 'surface reader', never really even getting that what was happening to Covenant was in reality an externalisation of his own inner demons - but I make it in all the innocence of a genuine interest.
I mean, what was it like? What can it have been like, reading about this difficult hero (to put it mildly) from a staunchly Christian belief? Did it require a temporary suspension of the ethics you were steeped in, in order to empathise with this man? Or did you simply read a different book, holding on to your code? For me, despite what he did, Thomas Covenant was a hero. I worshipped the ground he walked on (in the innocence of my youth). I can hardly see how it could have been different.
How in goodness name did you reconcile it?