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October 27, 2005

The Mind of the Maker

Dorothy L. Sayers – ISBN 0060670770

A compelling and thoughtful book: the author was a mystery writer, a theologian, culture commentator, playwright, and critic of the (mis-)use of the written word. She explores free will, evil, the Christian creeds and the Trinity, amongst other subjects.

This reissued book (from 1941) is only 225 pages, but is a very intense read. Neither an apology for, or an expression of her personal religious beliefs, she does expound on the issues of that—and this—day “in light of specialized knowledge, on a particular set of statements made in the Christian creeds and their claim to be statements of fact.”

At the outset she attacks “illiteracy” (remember, this is 1941) resulting from the neglect by the public to understand the exact meanings of words, thereby missing what is being said . . . “inevitably imposing its own prejudices and questions upon that which it is reading.”

She covers:

Laws of nature and opinion, in which “natural law” as understood within the framework of religious conformity by which man enjoys “true freedom,” explaining how the laws of nature are determinable by experience.

The image of God is her interpretation of the expression “in his own image,” noting that “only the most simple-minded of people . . . have supposed the image to be a physical one.” While she doesn’t get into the accidental/cosmic vs. creationist arguments, her explanations of biblical metaphors used certainly impacts upon that (now) raging discussion.

“All language about everything is analogical; we think in a series of metaphors . . . and explain nothing in terms of itself, but only in terms of other things.” Complaining, then, that man measures God by his own experience is a waste of time inasmuch as man measures everything by his own experience . . . he has, after all, no other yardstick. An illuminating conversation, that!

In the energy revealed in creation, she explores the school of thought “which imagines that God, having created His universe, has now screwed the cap on His pen, put up His feet on the mantelpiece and left the work to get on with itself.” Having created His wonderful machine he now sits back waiting for it to run down for lack of fuel: which first ignores the fact that machines just go on doing the same things over again, and, as well, fails to account for human creativeness.

Free will and miracles, Maker of ill things, and The love of the creature are amongst the remaining subjects explored.

Overall a challenging and thought producing treatise, well worth the time, but be prepared to spend lots of it re-reading . . . and thinking!

Posted by respeto at October 27, 2005 11:42 AM