---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: David Boyd <[log in to unmask]>
Date: 8 March 2010 15:30
Subject: Re: Christian Belief in Eliot's Pre-conversion Poetry
To: "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]
The only hangover from pre-Reformation times is the big proportion of English parish churches dedicated to Saint Mary, etc.
And not many at all of all of our pre-Reformation churches escaped the tearing-down of effigies of Mary and /or the saints by the iconoclasts.
One of the best evocations of the role of the pre and post-reformation English parish church is by another poet, and former-pupil of TSE the schoolmaster - (Sir) John Betjeman's Introduction to his estimable 'Guide to English Parish Churches' - now over 50 years old and long out of print, but never anywherere nearly-bettered.
Betjeman's definition of a 'must-see' parish church was one that was worth cycling 20 miles against a strong headwind in order to see, or one that brought him to his knees as soon as he entered the interior.
Betjeman and TSE's pasionate love affairs with Anglicanism contrast greatly with Philip Larkin's cynicism, but parish churches even succeeded in stirring the emotions of that miserable, desolate, soandso to the near-magnificence and reverence of the final stanza:-
Bored, uninformed, knowing the ghostly silt
Dispersed, yet tending to this cross of ground
Through suburb scrub because it held unspilt
So long and equably what since is found
Only in separation - marriage, and birth,
And death, and thoughts of these - for which was built
This special shell? For, though I've no idea
What this accoutred frowsty barn is worth,
It pleases me to stand in silence here;
A serious house on serious earth it is,
In whose blent air all our compulsions meet,
Are recognized, and robed as destinies.
And that much never can be obsolete,
Since someone will forever be surprising
A hunger in himself to be more serious,
And gravitating with it to this ground,
Which, he once heard, was proper to grow wise in,
If only that so many dead lie round.
(Church Going, Philip Larkin)
It's truly an uplifting experience and manna for the soul to boot to be able so readily to seek out and to enter and to stand and drink in the atmosphere of buildings that have been such a spiritual focus typically for the past 500 years or so - back to East Coker / Little Gidding , aren't we ??!!
On 8 March 2010 14:16, Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]>
Worship of the Virgin Mary as nearly the fourth person of the Blessed Trinity is absent from Anglicanism. There are many other differences, such as confession made to a priest, but the Mother of God is a biggie. The Catholic church decided to incorporate Mary when efforts to ban Mary-worship failed.
At risk of being pedantic, don't think TSE ever converted to 'catholicism'
He converted to the established Church of England, to the 'High Church / Anglo-Catholic' faction within it, but still to Protestant Anglicanism, as opposed to Roman Catholicism.
Theology isn't my interest, but believe there are fundamental cultural and theological differences here, not least Papal authority / infallibility.
Not to mention female priests !
In reality, it's all the spectrum of the very 'broad' Anglican Church - at one end, the Pope has sought to entice the Anglo-Catholics back to the Vatican fold, but at the other 'Low Church' end, this notion would be unthinkable.
And culturally, this does still matter a lot - just look at Northern Ireland and its troubles, for example.
On 7 March 2010 17:18, Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>
He grew up in a religious Christian home. That is known. No one has said otherwise. That is not the issue. It is a fact that at Harvard he attended Buddhist meetings and studied Eastern philosophy, but he did not become a Buddhist. What is there to demonstrate about his early Christian milieu that anyone denies?
>>> Chokh Raj 03/07/10 11:32 AM >>>
In the posts that follow, I intend taking up Eliot's preoccupation with Christian thought and imagery in the poetry he chose to publish before his formal conversion to Catholicism. What fascinates is the fervence, ardor and earnestness that he brings to bear upon his treatment of them. To me it is here, more than anywhere else, that one can trace the poet's essential rootedness in Christian belief.