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Full Version: Bp W on TS Eliot's Journey of the Magi
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(01-12-2010, 11:03 PM)dedalus28 Wrote: [ -> ]http://truerestoration.blogspot.com/2010...by-ts.html

Thank you for posting this.  I love Eliot's poetry, especially his religious poems. Bp W. gets it right; Eliot is an excellent stepping stone from materialist modernism to Christianity.  His critiques of modernism are spot on and then his religious poetry points the way to the solutions in Christianity, even if the poetry itself doesn't quite get there.  To borrow an image from the Buddhists, it is like the finger pointing at the moon.  It's not the moon, but it shows where the moon is.  And Eliot is accessible to people who are steeped in modernism in ways that other poets who wrote religious verse (Hopkins, for example) are not.  Eliot's got the credentials, so to speak.

I regularly teach Eliot to my junior AP English class, including The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, The Wasteland, The Hollow Men, The Journey of the Magi, and Ash Wednesday.  Ash Wednesday is one of my favorites.  Check it out here: http://www.msgr.ca/msgr-7/ash_wednesday_t_s_eliot.htm

Here are the last few lines:

Blessed sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
Sister, mother
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated

And let my cry come unto Thee.


I love the idea here that when we are false, we mock ourselves.  I've been reading a book (Merton's Palace of Nowhere by James Finley) that argues that Thomas Merton's thoughts on contemplation can be best understand in terms of the true and false self.  When we live from the false self, the materialist ego that believes that it can live and act completely separate from God, then we mock the true self, the self that God created and God wants us to be, the self that lives and has its being in God.  It's an ontological issue -- the false self truly does not exist, since nothing can truly exist apart from God.  No wonder we cause ourselves and others so much pain and suffering when we sin; we're acting from a self that is not real.

Teach us to sit still.

Pax vobiscum,
Jesse

Thanks for posting this, I enjoyed reading it.    It's so funny how secular people can admire Eliot's work, but they have no sense of his true context.  Jesse's 'finger pointing at the moon' analogy is particularly apt (thanks).