This classic, with a new introduction by Madeleine L'Engle, is by turns an entrancing mediation on language; a piercing commentary on the nature of art and why so much of what we read, hear, and see falls short; and a brilliant examination of the fundamental tenets of Christianity. The Mind of the Maker
will be relished by those already in love with Dorothy L. Sayers and those who have not yet met her.
A mystery writer, a witty and perceptive theologian, culture critic, and playwright, Dorothy Sayers sheds new, unexpected light on a specific set of statements made in the Christian creeds. She examines anew such ideas as the image of God, the Trinity, free will, and evil, and in these pages a wholly revitalized understanding of them emerges. The author finds the key in the parallels between the creation of God and the human creative process. She continually refers to each in a way that illuminates both.
Best known for her Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, Dorothy Sayers was also a playwright, essayist, and a translator of Dante. C.S. Lewis said that he liked her "for the extraordinary zest and edge of her conversation--as I like a high wind." The reader gets a fair taste of that wind in this book, her study of the human (and divine) creative process. Beginning with some stingingly humorous words for the education process (which has produced, she says, "a generation of mental slatterns") she then explores the Trinitarian nature of creativity. Here she identifies the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity--God, Son, Holy Spirit--with three elements of creation. First, the Idea: "passionless, timeless, beholding the whole work complete at once, the end in the beginning"; then the Creative Energy: "begotten of that idea, working in time from the beginning to end," manifesting the Idea in matter; and finally the Creative Power: "the meaning of the work and its response in the lively soul"--in essence, what she calls "the indwelling Spirit."
In a plain, matter-of-fact style that readers will recognize from her mysteries, she reflects on the question of free will and miracle, evil, and, ultimately, "the worth of the work." It is especially here, I think, in this final chapter that the book remains both timeless and profoundly timely. The artist stands for the true worker, she writes, who, while requiring payment for his work, as an artist "retains so much of the image of God that he is in love with his creation for its own sake." So too, ultimately, should it be for all human work: "That the eyes of all workers should behold the integrity of the work is the sole means to make that work good in itself and so good for mankind. This is only another way of saying that the work must be measured by the standard of eternity." --Doug Thorpe