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The Literary Avatars of Christian Sacramentality, Theology and Practical Life in Recent Modernity


Edited By Ioana Zirra and Madeleine Potter

Twelve Anglicists (from France, America, Poland, and Romania) who met in Bucharest to debate Religion and Spirituality in Literature and the Arts at the ACED Conference in June 2015 join their voices in demonstrating the vitally spiritual power of Christianity in the recently modern world (in twentieth and twenty-first century literature and society). Poetry (by Eliot, Yeats, Heaney, David Jones, Hill, G.M. Brown) and fiction (Henry James, Lodge, Evelyn Waugh, Flannery O’Connor, Rose Macaulay and Ron Hansen), interpreted with (Thomist and more recent) theology (J.H. Newman’s, Paul Tillich’s, Hans Urs von Balthasar’s, De Certeau’s) and philosophy (from Plato to Gadamer) in mind, give heartening suggestions for transcending, along Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox lines, the modern secular ethos.
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C. S. Lewis and T. S. Eliot: Christianity through the Looking Glass


Abstract: Surrendering yourself to God and in doing so, giving up the natural self, is the act of faith at the core of Christianity. This is the reason why Lewis insists on it in various passages throughout his writings, and he is in perfect accord with the entire Christian tradition when he explains there is no reality outside this system of self-giving. In fact, there could be no morality without this abdication of the self, let alone Christian faith. In this paper, I will try to illustrate how this Christian principle is reflected in the poetry of T. S. Eliot, from his early poems to the poems written after his conversion to Christianity, and I will argue that the differences between them run deeper than one might expect. If the speakers in poems such as “Prufrock”, “Gerontion” and the Wasteland feel trapped within the self with no possibility of escape, in “A Song for Simeon” and Four Quartets something has settled, and the clarity and serenity with which the speakers convey the message suggest they have found a way out.

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