Thanks for the pointer, Peter. I guess an understanding of what god was for Eliot is part of what I'm looking for. I'm guessing he knew a lot of the literature of debate between the English Anglicans and the English Roman Catholics, before he made his choice for Anglicanism and some form of its theology. Where did he weigh in on the 39 Articles, and related theological and political debate, the Trinity, etc. Some of these questions may be addressed in the scholarly sources offered over the last day; I haven't gotten to them yet. Thanks, everybody, for the thoughtfulness. I just read Lytton Strachey's fabulous collection of four short biographies "Eminent Victorians," which wanders through the Anglican-Roman Catholic conflict from various perspectives. I'm thinking Eliot probably had opinions on those people, and on their striking belief systems.
I would highly recommend Barry Spurr's BOOK "Anglo-Catholicism, Anglo-Catholic in Religion: T. S. Eliot and Christianity" It is a transformation of his doctoral thesis produce with the blessing of his doctoral supervisor and of Mrs. Eliot (if memory seerves).
I am curious about your definition of "god" that you wish to understand Eliot's
belief in. His arrival in belief was, as has been mentioned, a long and winding road. As I remember, when he got to the querstion of becoming a budddhist or hindu, he felt that culturally he could not make the jump. The quote
(for which I cannot provide a source. I read it long ago, and more recently saw
a more recent poet refer to it) is roughly, that if ne is a weaterner, one cannot make the leap to another religion, and vice versa. In effect he could not abandon his roots.
That he had strong mystical leanings I think one cannot deny. Barry Spurr even provides an example of his having a mystical experience after receiving communion. As a Catholic and an Anglican I seriously doubt that he made
a distinction between belief in God and mystical expeience. He seems to have thought that mystical experience is experience of God.
You are right to present the matter as being a serious surprise and even let down for his contemporaries. It seems many saw TWL as a kind of atheist manifesto. In fact Ithink many still take it in that way. He was certainly seriously punished by his coontemporaries for his so called juump. His response was
again a quote the source for which I cannot supply, but it went something like:
In an age in which everyone is trying to escape, a person going in the opposite direction will seem to run away.--- That's not quite right, but close.
Eliot's work was so broad and deep, it is hard to hang on to every bit of it.
Again, I am interested in your definition of the being in which you say Eliot believed.
----- Original Message ----- From: John Angell Grant
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Tuesday, May 29, 2012 10:19 AM
Subject: Why did T.S. Eliot believe in God?
Why did T.S. Eliot believe in god?
Pound and others found Eliot's belief in god incomprehensible.
Can anyone steer me to the scholarship on this issue, the issue of why Eliot believed in god?
Thanks in advance for any ideas.