The Sin of Pride is foremost of the Seven Deadly Sins. Medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas said of pride: “inordinate self-love is the cause of every sin… the root of pride is found to consist in man not being, in some way, subject to God and His rule.” Pride is excessive belief in one’s own abilities, that interferes with the individual’s recognition of the grace of God. The sin of pride is a preoccupation with self. Pride is what caused Lucifer to fall from heaven and it was the sin of pride which first led Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit in the Garden.
Pride and the desire for self-glory - to “be like God” - is rebellion against God. Man was made by God in the image of God - to represent God as his image bearer. In the Fall, the image of God as seen in humanity was marred. Man became less than truly human because the intimate relationship man had with God was broken - man was hollowed out only to be filled with the very sin that had caused the rupture - the stuffing of pride and self-aggrandizement.
T.S. Eliot, in the process of turning his life towards God recognized the sin of pride and the desire for self-glory in himself. The key to faith, for Eliot, was the “negation of self” - the discipline to turn away from the worldly things which only served to distract and cause one to head in the wrong direction. For Eliot, vanity and pride were the destroyers of the soul and what served to separate each of us from God. Repentance and penitence were the solution.
Thomas Stearns Eliot (1888 -1965) was a poet, literary critic, playwright and lecturer. Better known as T.S. Eliot, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948.
Born in St. Louis Missouri, he moved to England in 1914 at the age of 25, later assuming British citizenship and remaining in England until his death in 1965.
I was first introduced to his poems in a high school English class and met up with him later in a World Literature class in college. I think he stuck in my visually attuned mind because he painted such meaningful and vivid images in his poetry. He is considered the founder of 20th Century Modernist poetry.
The 19th Century Romantics, such as Wordsworth, had held sway over English poetry for many decades. Eliot’s essays on literature and his work as a poet opened the door to a new type and style of expression. He experimented with new verse rhythms based on the rhythms of contemporary speech. The structure of his poems were like collages - composed of fragments of speech and images. He integrated numerous other voices in his poems besides his own - and many outright quotations from other authors - his favorites being Dante and Shakespeare.
And yet this man - steeped in philosophy, Sanskrit, and religious skepticism - who revolutionized the language of poetry - became a devoted disciple of Jesus Christ. His work as a “Christian” author, essayist, and lecturer is less well known than G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis. I know that Eliot held some views typical of the upper class and elites of his day that we do not cherish now. Nor was Eliot a saint.
I am NOT an expert of T.S. Eliot - I didn’t even major in English! But I am very interested in exploring how his long literary period of essays, lectures, plays, and poetry were informed by his piety and his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I really enjoy listening to Eliot read his own poetry in recordings he made which you can easily find on-line. Here is Part One of my exploration of T.S. Eliot: