"Thou shalt worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God."-- Exodus 34:14
In late June of 1927, in a small church in Oxfordshire, T. S. Eliot was baptized into the Anglican Church. He had a hard time coming to this death, this birth, and he awoke to find himself uneasy in the old dispensation with an alien people clutching their gods. Knowing he had lately clutched the same gods, he was highly conscious of the need to call them up, Baal and his fellows, and formally dismiss them. He was compelled to this housecleaning by the very first commandment of his new God: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me. . . . for I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God" ( Exodus 20:3-5). The seriousness of Eliot's commitment to Christianity can be gauged from how repeatedly he discussed in print during the year of his conversion and for about five years thereafter, the problem of religion and its substitutes. One by one, like an inventory examiner, he inspected Bergsonianism, humanism, aestheticism, and other early twentieth-century "isms"; and in the light of Christianity, he rejected them as inadequate.
Eliot's interest in religion (literally, a retying or rebinding, an attempt to reconnect fragments into a whole) did not appear suddenly in his thirty-ninth year. His awareness of fragmentation, his dissatisfaction with brokenness, had been evident in his earliest work. The Harvard masterpieces--"Portrait,""Preludes,""Prufrock,""Rhapsody"--all exhibit a consciousness of broken connections. People are cut off from friends, from lovers, from any community, from God. The great human problem behind The Waste Land is "I can connect / Nothing with nothing" (ll. 301-2). This inability to connect, in fact, is