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Posts tagged "T.S. Eliot"

An Introduction to the Excessive World of The Mockingbird

This letter from the editor opens up our first issue of The Mockingbird, our quarterly magazine which has just arrived in mailboxes! To subscribe to The Mockingbird, click here.  “Tell me which kinds of excesses fascinate you, tell me which kinds of excesses appall you, and I will tell you who you are.” –Adam Phillips, […]

“Do Nothing” – Spiritual Advice from T.S. Eliot

From the wonderful play The Cocktail Party, well into the poet’s Christian phase. A man’s wife leaves him and an Unidentified Guest – who is almost a bona fide theophany (Eliot’s God prefers gin) – gives the man, Edward, some advice on how to handle his crisis:

Gordons-gin-ad-from-Playboy-magazine-July-1963…to approach the stranger
Is to invite the unexpected, release a new force,
Or let the genie out of the bottle.
It is to start a train of events
Beyond your control…

Most of the time we take ourselves for granted,
As we have to, and live on a little knowledge
About ourselves as we were. Who are you now?
You don’t know any more than I do,
But rather less. You are nothing but a set
Of obsolete responses. The one thing to do
Is to do nothing. Wait.

Edward: Wait!
But waiting is the one thing impossible.
Besides, don’t you see that it makes me look ridiculous?

Guest: It will do you no harm to find yourself ridiculous.
Resign yourself to be the fool you are.
That is the best advice can give you.

“Waiting is the one thing impossible” – in Eliot’s spirituality, activity and self-righteousness and pretension must be cleared from the minds of those who know only “a heap of broken images”, who are only that, and cannot be otherwise. For a man as attuned to grace and broken on the wheels of life as he, the one genuine spiritual vocation is the desperate plea, “teach us to care and not to care/ teach us to sit still.”

T.S. Eliot’s Parables of Self-Righteousness and Resurrection (A Conference Breakout)

Perhaps this is not your issue, but I often find that the language we speak as Christians when talking about Christianity simply fails to really connect. Whether it be in a sermon, prayers, or music, full of talk of ‘justification’, ‘grace’, ‘redemption’, etc., when we hear the words, nod our heads in assent, but fail […]

We Are Bold to Say… The Lord’s Prayer, Pt. 3: “Thy Kingdom Come”

Continuing in the next portion of the Lord’s Prayer, we come to the section which is probably the most debated and discussed, but least understood. For many, the coming of the Kingdom means the future destruction of the world (a prediction of Jesus’ which – for some interpreters – never happened!). Perhaps in reaction to […]

Sin and Redemption in an Age of Bustle: T.S. Eliot on Baudelaire

Taken from the master poet’s essay on Baudelaire (1930): Baudelaire’s morbidity of temperament cannot, of course, be ignored… To the eye of the world, and quite properly for all questions of private life, Baudelaire was thoroughly perverse and insufferable: a man with a talent for ingratitude and unsociability, intolerably irritable, and with a mulish determination […]

Another Week Ends: Christian Neurotics, Shrieking Children, Grunge-Love, Steve Jobs, and Idiot Brothers

At week’s end, despite the continued reverberations, ironic photo blogs, and miraculous happenings, all is still in post-quake Central Virginia! The Mockingbird offices remain in functional tact… 1) Over at First Things, and similarly confronting the stigmas of mental health as discussed in an earlier post this week, “The Christian Neurotic” ponders “neurosis” and its […]

Mama Liked the Roses (And So Did T.S. Eliot): Deciphering “Burnt Norton” – Part 2

Have you ever wanted to reclaim the past? In images, especially those of poetry, we possess a moment frozen in time. It seems so accessible the more detailed and the more sensuous a description we give it—such as Eliot’s ghostly trip into the rose-garden last week—and yet the permanence which it suggests is devastatingly illusory. […]

Mama Liked the Roses (And So Did T.S. Eliot): Deciphering “Burnt Norton” – Part 1

Eliot’s Four Quartets remain among his most critically acclaimed and notoriously inscrutable works. Although there’s no established consensus on the precise meaning of these poems, they’ve all been viewed as meditations on time, each focusing on a particular aspect of this central reality of human life. Constantly going back to the Quartets and always enjoying […]

Possibly Insane Thoughts on Ash Wednesday (Written on the Occasion of a Sleepless Night)

A close friend of Mockingbird contributes the following reflection on the meaning of the day, and I’m sure you’ll agree that it is a welcome and considerably more profound alternative to the (admittedly irresistible) irreverence with which we’ve treated (the “public displays of piety” which characterize) Lent in past years. A touching and personal defense […]

Christmas Cheer, According to T.S. Eliot

The following is from Eliot’s “The Cultivation of Christmas Trees.” While less popular than Eliot’s other Christmas poems, it is his last- and probably his most insightful. There are several attitudes towards Christmas,Some of which we may disregard:The social, the torpid, the patently commercial,The rowdy (the pubs being open till midnight),And the childish—which is not […]

The Timeless God, an excerpt from T.S. Eliot

An excerpt taken from T.S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets“, “Dry Salvages”: To communicate with Mars, converse with spirits, To report the behaviour of the sea monster,Describe the horoscope, haruspicate or scry,Observe disease in signatures, evokeBiography from the wrinkles of the palmAnd tragedy from fingers; release omensBy sortilege, or tea leaves, riddle the inevitableWith playing cards, fiddle […]

THE MOCKINGBIRD SINGS: Pensacola & Good News for People with Big Problems, Plus

1. The Pensacola Mini-Conference is a mere 11 days away! November 19th and 20th are your long-awaited chances to experience Mockingbird in all its physical, um, glory. The theme is “God’s Grace When We Need It Most: The Gospel For Hard Times,” and we promise it will be more fun than it sounds (you can […]