Carroll,
 
I couldn’t follow your argument after the second paragraph of your posting and so I will focus on what I could.
 
I believe what we ‘know a lot about the origins and history of religion’ is mostly in terms of related sociological conditions that seem to have directly and indirectly influenced its growth.  It is only one way of looking at it; it is only another school of thought.  For me, faith is not built as a habit but as a natural response of the mind : the response, that has the most wonderful of all the human faculties, imagination, as its source – imagination, that manifests in so many forms : poetry, arts, philosophy in its abstract and religion at its concrete.   I call such imagination that is a manifestation of the spirit of mankind as ‘poetic spirit’. 
 
That Eliot sneered at Arnold is by itself the very contradiction I see between his (unconscious) poetry and his (conscious) prose.  His conscious conversion to an orthodox stand (your term ‘self-consciously _orthodox’) and the religious positions that he took in his later life are further indicators for me of the dual personality in him, which were reinforced by a study of his ugly sneers at Lawrence.
 
By the way, being reminded of Lawrence, I will make a quote here, which is relevant to the context :
 
‘If you don’t believe me, then don’t.  I will even give you a little song to sing.
 
If it be not true to me
What care I how true it be …
 
That’s the kind of man I really like, chirping his insouciance.  And I chirp back:
 
Though it be not true to thee
It’s gay and gospel truth to me …
 
- Vishvesh

Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Vishvesh Obla wrote:
>
> I have always felt that it was the fundamental poetic
> spirit of mankind that created the religions than the
> vice-versa. Religions are, perhaps, only a commentary
> of the unquenchable poetic spirit of mankind : the
> commentary always having the possibility of subjective
> interpretation and distortion, but the spirit always
> remaining the same.

Two things. First, personally, this seems ridiculous to me. We do know
a lot about the origins and history of religion (though there is a lot
we don't know), and the business about poetry creating religion simply
won't correlate to what we know. More importantly, in the present
context, this is profoundly contrary to Eliot's own attitude. He sneered
at Arnold for suggesting poetry could replace religion, commenting that
if we didn't accept religion, then we had just better get along without
it because there was no replacement.

There is a great deal in common between Arnold and Eliot, and I would
guess that there must exist a body of scholarship dealing with this
relationship. Eliot was certainly aware of it himself -- and probably
that consciousness of kinship is behind is several sneers at Arnold. But
with his conversion Eliot was quite self-consciously _orthodox_ and
attacked religious liberalism. And he certainly attacked fuzzy-minded
attempts to make everything equivalent to everything else.

Readers unless they want to look silly have to get used to the fact that
no two people are apt to agree on everything, and if you find yourself
agreeing with everything expressed in a body of poetry you are probably
either finking on your own beliefs or misconstruing the poetry. Whatever
one thinks of either Arnold or Eliot, both were clear on this point, and
both gave considerable attention (Eliot more so than Arnold) to
wrestling with the question of admiring a poet while NOT admiring
his/her views of the world. The discussion between Eliot and Richards on
this question was one of the two or three major sources of the major
concerns of the "New Criticism" which dominated mid-century
Anglo-American literary criticism.

Carrol


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