Throughout Thomas Stearns Eliot\'s poems run Christian
themes and values that evoke a critical view of society.
Though he published relatively little compared to other
poets of his caliber, he has been recognized as both a poet
and a critic. He himself has been criticized for "unnecessary
obscurity" and for "authorian severity" (Bradley, 1163).
Throughout his poems and other works, he professes a
distinct critique upon society due mainly because of his
belief that Christianity should play a major role in life. In his
poems, Christian beliefs remain in a reoccurring aspect that
reflect his social criticism and his own Christian convictions.
As Eliot began to become financially stable and secure, he
began to look for spiritual outlets to arrive at. This outlet
was that of England\'s Established Church. Eliot began
keeping a Christian ethical outlook of life. Irving Babbit, a
Harvard professor, also attracted Eliot to the study of
philosophy. Eliot was baptized under the church of England
at the age of thirty-nine and began his literary crusade to
promote Christianity. In 1922, one of Eliot\'s major works
of modern literature was published. "The Wasteland", full of
images of despair and death is clearly an expression of
Eliot\'s religious beliefs. At this time during the 1920\'s, "the
Wasteland" appealed to young intellectual minds because
of the tone it symbolized. It was the post-war period and
Eliot\'s main focus in "The Wasteland" was the failure of the
Western civilization which World War II seemed to
demonstrate. Gertrude Stein called this period the "lost
generation". Ever since "The Wasteland" portrayed the
feelings of despair of the lost generation, Eliot has been
critical of Western civilization. In 1939, he was quoted as
saying, "And it does not require a Christian attitude to
perceive that the modern system of society has a great that
in it is that inherently bad" (Criterion, 115). The things that
were "inherently bad", Eliot suggested to remove and
replace it with Christian values. In " The Wasteland", he
arrives with his criticism in an appropriate emphasis on
sensitivity and imagery that provokes the reader to feel a
deeper emotion and even a religious reaction. Eliot defends
this method of delivering his poetry by saying: Such
selection of sequence of images and ideas has nothing
chaotic about it. There is a logic of the imagination as well
as a logic of concepts. People who do not appreciate
poetry always find it difficult to distinguish between order
and chaos in the arrangement of images; and even those
who are capable of appreciating poetry cannot depend
upon first impressions. (Criterion, 235) In "The
Wasteland," there is an immediately noticeable reversed
attitude about life and death that evokes a spiritual sense.
Eliot makes death a consequence instead of a test of faith.
Also, in most works of literature, the cycle of spring to
spring which includes the time of Easter, a religious
celebration of great importance to Christians, is rejoiced
and embraced. In "The Wasteland" it is the reverse. "The
people of ‘The Wasteland\' are not made happy by the
return of spring, the fruitfulness to the soil; they prefer the
barrenness of winter or the dead season" (Williamson,
125). Basically, life becomes a preparation for death.
Everything that happens in the world is not of reality
because it holds no value. The cause of this is Adam\'s
burden that was placed upon man. Eliot has been quoted
as saying, "I do not mean that our times are particulary
corrupt: all times are corrupt" ("The Social Function of
Poetry", 453). Eliot "ignores the positive human aspects of
Christianity" (Robbins, 24) and rigidly rejoices death. It
seems that Eliot escapes from reality seen in "The
Wasteland" and into a realm of religion and "over all Eliot\'s
writings hovers his contempt for human beings--- because
as we know them, they are part of the physical world"
(Kojecky, 12). This use of reverse attitude allows Eliot to
vividly express the theme of religious frustration. In the
"Burial of the Dead", the first part to "The Wasteland" it
states "memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring
rain" (Eliot, 29). But what are these dull roots? The son of
man is throughly confused because all he knows is the
Waste Land and he cannot relate. Eliot suggests here death
imagery which can be compatible with Christ\'s death for
the forgiveness of mankind. Eliot blends images from Isaiah
32 and Luke 23: the "dead tree" and "red rock" (Eliot, 30)
which are descriptive colors used in third part of "The
Wasteland" called "The Fire Sermon". This symbolizes the
burial of Christ. Also the speaker in "The Wasteland" who
often becomes the prophet during the course of the poem,
shows man "fear in a handful of dust you will