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Nancy,
    I have responded to your questions below.

>>> [log in to unmask] 06/27/03 05:09PM >>>
>If by "Eden" you mean the story of paradise in Genesis, then the Bible
is
our source of the idea.  But that is by definition.

*Exactly what I meant.

>If you mean the idea of paradise, there are many versions of the
story.
There was a Sumerian paradise called Dilmun; the Greeks imagined a
paradise before Pandora opened the box; there is a paradise in Islamic
theology. I'm sure a theologian could identify many more.

*I would be most interested to see if any of these stories is known to
precede the Genesis account. Just out of curiosity. Just as an aside,
even in the Bible the ideas of paradise and Eden are separate -- in
fact, there is no mention of paradise until any chance of living in Eden
has passed away. And it is described in terms far different than Eden
was.

>On another comment, I would be interested in what you think are the
limits
of the word "Christianity" and what versions of it you would not
include.  It
is possible to think the term not broad enough.  I have only read the
review
so far, but that seems to be a conclusion of Elaine Pagels' book on
The
Gospel of Thomas.

*The word "Christian" first surfaced in Antioch (Acts 11:26), during
the period of the early church, and like so many other terms, it was
first applied to the group, and later adopted. As you no doubt know, the
word means something like "little Christ" and refers to one who is a
follower of Christ. This is the point at which definitions diverge.
Glancing at the American Heritage Dictionary (which is not
authoritative, but the closest at hand), I find these definitions:
1. Professing belief in Jesus as Christ or following the religion based
on the life and teachings of Jesus.
3. Manifesting the qualities or spirit of Jesus.
5. Showing a loving concern for others; humane

These are fairly typical of those claiming the title today. #5 is
obviously the broadest and demonstrates a shallow understanding of
Christ, but could work as a definition to some degree. #3 and #1 are
widely used, but there is a great difference of opinion on what exactly
the qualities and teachings of Jesus were and are.
I am not meaning to avoid the question at all in what I am trying to
say, so if my meaning is still unclear after this post, I would have no
problem clarifying again. But the essence of "Christianity" is knowing
Jesus _as_ Christ (not just about Him; this is a rather profound
knowledge) and following after Him (not just after a pattern set down by
Him; I would differ from the AHD on their wording here). I am confident
that there are Christians in many of these groups: Lutherans, Baptists,
Episcopalians, Anglicans, Catholics, Presbyterians, and so on. Sometimes
it may be in spite of a particular church affiliation that one follows
Christ, at times it may be as a result of the particular church. The key
is whether the person is actually a follower of Christ Himself or just a
follower of a religion. These thoughts can be clarified by a reading of
most any book of the Bible, especially the Gospel of John or John's
first letter.
Even after years of studying Eliot, I'm not sure how to place him in
regards to Christianity.

>Certainly one might consider in what way Eliot's specific and rather
rigid
notions of Christianity affected his work but also how his much
broader
knowledge of, say, Eastern religion and comparative religion also did.

*Indeed, which many others have done. I hope to find a slice in the
effects of Christianity where I might contribute to a better
understanding of Eliot's poetry.
Thanks for your interest! I hope my explanations have not been too
tedious. This is a subject in which I have more than a fascination.

Best wishes,
Will Gray


Date sent:              Fri, 27 Jun 2003 14:15:03 -0400
Send reply to:          "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum."
<[log in to unmask]>
From:                   William Gray <[log in to unmask]>
Subject:                OT: Eden
To:                     [log in to unmask]

Carrol,
   Just a couple of comments on your post:

>>> [log in to unmask] 06/27/03 12:23PM >>> The principle of Eden is
leisure without blame. That was Tolstoi's definition of it. But it
also
happens, essentially, to be the very realistic definition offered by
the
anthropologist Marshall Sahlins who established that the
hunter-gatherer
societies were the "first affluent societies," where people spent 4-5
hours a
day working, often in a way hard to distinguish from playing

*According to the Bible (our source for understanding Eden, after
all),
the principle of Eden was far from leisure. Adam was given work by God
almost immediately after his creation (cf. Genesis 2:19). It was clear
to
both Adam and Eve that the reason God created them was to manage His
creation under Him (cf. Genesis 1:26-28 and 2:15). What changed as a
result of the Fall/the Curse was not the addition of work but the fact
that work would now involve sweat and difficulty.

Actually, Milton...(Of course his recognition is
in part distorted by Christianity, which poisons everything it
touches.)

*This comment adds little, if anything, to our discussion. If you
would
like to talk sometime off-list, I would love to help clear up your
misunderstanding here about Christianity, an unfortunately broad label.
I
don't mind hearing religious positions, if they are relevant to the
discussion and sufficiently grounded. I had just hoped we could
discuss
Christianity's relevance to Eliot's poetry without degenerating.
Thanks!

Cheers,
Will Gray