T. S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland” was the voice of a disillusioned generation and reflected a world in disarray. Then in 1928 Eliot announced to a startled world, and the disapproval of his contemporaries, that his general point of view could be described as ‘classicist in literature, royalist in politics and anglo-catholic in religion.’ The previous year he had been baptised behind closed doors in Finstock Church, near Oxford.
This lecture will consider that conversion with three interlinked questions in mind: From what was he converted? Why did he convert? What was the immediate effect of that conversion? The recently published 6 volumes of Eliot’s letters covering the period help shed light on the answers.
The lecture will also explore how this new direction in his life is reflected in the poems he wrote at the time.
Professor the Rt Revd Lord Harries was the Bishop of Oxford from 1987 to 2006. He was previously the Dean of King's College London, where he is now a Fellow and an Honorary Professor of Theology. He is an Honorary Fellow of Selwyn College, Cambridge and of St Anne's College, Oxford. He also holds a number of other prestigious positions in other top British Universities. In 2006 he was made a Life Peer as Lord Harries of Pentregarth of Ceinewydd in the County of Dyfed and sits on the crossbenches.
Professor Harries is greatly concerned with social, political and inter-faith issues. As Bishop of Oxford, he was the Chairman of the Church of England Board for Social Responsibility between 1996 and 2001, and the Chairman of the Council of Christians and Jews between 1992 and 2001. He chaired the House of Bishops' Working Parties on issues surrounding Sexuality and Terrorism. He has been a board member of Christian Aid, a member of the Royal Commission on the Reform of the House of Lords (The Wakeman Commission), and a founder member of the Abrahamic Group in Oxford.
One of the many interests of Professor Harries is the question of medical ethics - an area in which he has published numerous articles and held a number of top positions. He chaired the Lords Select Committee on Stem Cell Research, was a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics from 2002 to 2008 and he chairs the Ethics and Law Advisory Group of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).
Professor Harries has published 26 books and numerous articles, covering a wide range of interests, most recently, Faith in Politics? Rediscovering the Christian roots of our political values and Issues of Life and Death: Christian faith and medical intervention. His other books include: Art and the Beauty of God (Mowbrays, 1993), Christianity and War in the Nuclear Age (Mowbrays, 1986), Is there a Gospel for the Rich? (Mowbrays, 1992), After the Evil: Christianity and Judaism after the Holocaust (OUP, 2003), C. S. Lewis: The Man and his God (Collins, 1987), and a collection of his contributions to 'Thought for the Day' on Radio 4's Today Programme to which he has been a regular contributor since 1972, In Gladness of Today (Harper Collins, 1999).
For all of Lord Harries' previous lectures at Gresham College, please click here.