Saturday, May 21, 2011

Some Books (5)--Christianity and Culture by T. S. Eliot

Being generally unread in T. S. Eliot, and largely allergic to poetry (sorry), I thought I would try out this thin volume of essays. Eliot is fine, I suppose, but I doubt that I will become any better read from here on out. Christianity and Culture is very much a product of its time and place, in this case, Britain just before the advent of the Second World War. Even so, a few passages caught my attention--

I am not concerned with the problem of Christians as a persecuted minority. When the Christian is treated as an enemy of the State, his course is very much harder, but it is simpler. I am concerned with the dangers to the tolerated minority; and in the modern world, it may turn out that the most intolerable thing for Christians is to be tolerated.

The Anglo-Saxons display a capacity for diluting their religion, probably in excess of that of any other race.

In an industrialized society like that of England, I am surprised that the people retains as much Christianity as it does.

We have no assurance that a democratic regime might not be as inimical to Christianity in practice, as another might be in theory....Those who consider that a discussion of the nature of a Christian society should conclude by supporting a particular form of political organisation, should ask themselves whether they really believe our form of government to be more important than our Christianity; and those who are convinced that the present form of the one most suitable for any Christian people, should ask themselves whether they are confusing a Christian society with a society in which individual Christianity is tolerated.

To justify Christianity because it provides a foundation of morality, instead of showing the necessity of Christian morality from the truth of Christianity, is a very dangerous inversion...

It is not enthusiasm, but dogma, that differentiates a Christian from a pagan society.

But we have to remember that the Kingdom of Christ on earth will never be realised, and also that it is always being realised; we must remember that whatever reform or revolution we carry out, the result will always be a sordid travesty of what human society should be--though the world is never left wholly without glory.

The term "democracy" ... does not contain enough positive content to stand alone against the forces that you dislike--it can easily be transformed by them. If you will not have God (and He is a jealous God) you should pay your respects to Hitler or Stalin.

1 comment:

Maximus Daniel said...

I wonder if his comment about enthusiasm came from Ronald Knox?