12/11/2019

Death at Yuletude: T.S. Eliot and “The Journey of the Magi”

"There is an idea that the best artists who have converted to Christianity sacrifice their creativity for spiritual relief. Regarding T.S. Eliot’s baptism and confirmation in the Anglican Church, Ezra Pound once remarked that he did not believe that Eliot had genuine “faith,” only that in his old age he had wanted to believe in something so badly that he did everything in accordance with religion to force it so. As Eliot’s poetry became more explicitly Christian and transcendent, his literary contemporaries grew divided over their feelings about the artistic quality of his poetry. It is certainly an interesting question: When the artist becomes admittedly Christian, he is now, presumably, starting to find solace over the many questions that remain unanswered regarding this difficult human experience. These are the very unanswered questions that we seek conversation about in art: For people, particularly non-religious, engaging with an artform in hopes of sensing similar questions about life, only to find that the artist resolves their frustration, sorrow, or anger, with Christ, may come off as too easy; a jump—or leap of faith—that the individual is not yet searching. It might even be a disappointment."