People

James Matthew Wilson

James Matthew Wilson teaches in the Department of Humanities and Augustinian Traditions at Villanova University. He has authored many essays on philosophical-theology and literature, and is currently at work on two books: T.S. Eliot, Jacques Maritain, and the Return to the Real and Our Steps amid a Ruined Colonnade, the latter of which is running serially in Contemporary Poetry Review. A poet and critic of contemporary poetry, some of his work has appeared in The Dark Horse, Modern Age, Lucid Rhythms and Measure. For two years, he penned a regular column, "The Treasonous Clerk," which was published in First Principles, and also of a book of poems, Four Verse Letters (Franciscan University at Steubenville Press, 2010). He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and children.

MARS HILL AUDIO Reprint 25

James Matthew Wilson, "T. S. Eliot: Culture and Anarchy"

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(Portions of this article were originally published on The Imaginative Conservative.)

In this essay, James Matthew Wilson examines T. S. Eliot’s cultural conservatism and religious conversion in light of his intellectual and familial influences. Wilson shows that throughout his life, Eliot grappled with the weaknesses of cultural theories that substituted art for religion, such as those proposed by Matthew Arnold and Eliot’s Harvard professors Irving Babbitt and George Santayana. Rather than filling the vacuum left by religious disbelief, the substitution of “civil religion” or “culture” for true religious faith merely confused and distracted modern man from what was at heart a theological and religious depletion. Contrary to appearances, Wilson argues that Eliot as the young modernist poet remained consistent with Eliot the cultural critic and Eliot the Christian. Despite his radical reputation, through Eliot’s poetry, one sees a working-out of his thinking on the role of poetry and culture in light of modern man’s condition and a definite metaphysical account of reality. Read by Ken Myers. 80 minutes. $2.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 141

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Guests on Volume 141: Grant Wythoff, on the technophiliac obsessions of Hugo Gernsback, the geeky midwife of modern science fiction; Susanna Lee, on how the hard-boiled protagonists of crime fiction in the 1930s and 40s were replaced by more nihilistic tough guys in the 1950s and 60s; Gerald R. McDermott, on how the work of theologian E. L. Mascall can expose blind spots in contemporary Christian thought; Carlos Eire, on how and why religion became “interiorized” in the wake of the reformations of the sixteenth century; Kelly Kapic, on theology’s use of experience and why the Incarnation is the ground of Christian hope; and James Matthew Wilson, on the beauty of truth and goodness, and on the necessity of cultivating “intellectual vision.”

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 102

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Guests on Volume 102: Daniel M. Bell, Jr., on recovering the view that the just war tradition is more about the shaping of character and virtue than a checklist for political leaders; Lew Daly, on how the discussion concerning faith-based initiatives raised larger issues about the identity of social groups in American society; Adam K. Webb, on whether the traditional personal and communal virtues in premodern village life must be abandoned for poverty to be alleviated; Stratford Caldecott, on how denying the reality of beauty is linked to a denial of the coherent meaning of Creation; James Matthew Wilson, on Jacques Maritain's pilgrimage to faith and his subsequent development of a rich philosophy of beauty; and Thomas Hibbs, on the similar projects of painters Georges Rouault (1871-1958) and Makoto Fujimura (b. 1960), and how they each resisted various confusions in modern art.