Here's what I got thinking about Rachel this week. It appears to me that Mama Weaver's view of religion is fairly literal, in that she teaches the kind of religion where you ask God for things, and if you're good, God does things for you. It's a sort of straightforward approach where God is kind of like Santa, and if you're good, you get a pony, and if you're bad, you get a lump of coal in your stocking. It's the kind of religion where you can ask for a million dollars, you know? Furthermore, the kids were raised to believe that the only things they could count on are (1) God; and (2) family, because everyone else is suspect. So suppose this is how you're brought up. And then, suppose your father is killed in a completely freakish accident that happens out of nowhere for no meaningful reason, and it wipes him out of your life, leaving your totally unprepared mother to take care of the family, which she clearly isn't ready to do.
Now, I ask you this: How do you feel about God now? Can't really get angry at God, because now that your father is gone, giving up on God would leave you with very little in the world given your lack of connection to the world outside your family. Your great fear, of course, would be the loss of your mother, because if you lose your mother, then you have nothing. So now you really have to be sure that you don't offend God, who has already taken your father. Now, you really have to be especially perfect and make sure that God notices all the ways in which you are superior to everyone else. It seems not outside the realm of possibility that you might conclude that if God is trustworthy and operates the way you've always thought, then the death of your father means that didn't pray enough, you didn't lead a perfect enough life -- because if you had, God would not have done this to you. If you were 16 and your thinking wasn't very sophisticated because you didn't know much about anything besides what your mom tells you, might you not conclude that this was a time to be extra-aggressive about your piety?