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Anglican Books > The Mind of the Maker, by Dorothy Sayers

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message 1: by Karen L. (last edited Jul 22, 2011 06:20PM) (new)

Karen L. We can post our thoughts and comments here when we all get reading The Mind of the Maker, by Dorothy Sayers

message 2: by Skylar (new)

Skylar Burris (skylarburris) | 134 comments Am I the only one who found this difficult to follow in parts? I'm wondering if it's mind-after-kids. I really liked the chapter towards the end, however, on the inadequacy of thinking of things in terms of "problems" and "solutions" rather than thinking of things in terms of "new creation."

message 3: by Karen L. (new)

Karen L. I just got the book from the library late Saturday afternoon. I am having a tough time reading lately and following things too! I was glad to see the book is not too long. Short works better during the busy Advent season.

message 4: by Katharine (new)

Katharine (katharhino) STILL waiting for the library to get one for me on interlibrary loan! I may yet have to dig into my book boxes and try to find my own copy. Of course I have no idea which box it's in...

message 5: by James (new)

James | 46 comments Don't worry I'm still waiting to get paid so I can order mine.

message 6: by Karen L. (new)

Karen L. Oh I'm relieved that you guys didn't start reading it yet, cause I have had the book here at my reading spot, and I have only read the beginning of the preface!!! I am having a terrible time reading lately. Too much Christmas shopping and to quote Skylar," mind after kids." I was feeling guilty that I hadn't hardly cracked the book.

Yet I am looking forward to a good slow evening when I can get under the afghan with a cup of tea and be cozy with a book again!

message 7: by Karen L. (new)

Karen L. I tried to start the book several times, unfortunately when I was very tired. I felt like I just wasn't getting it, so I am putting off reading it till during Christmas week, when things are quiet. I think her theology writing is work that requires great concentration to read.

James, I bet your local library would have a copy. Save your money!

message 8: by Karen L. (new)

Karen L. I found the Mind of the Maker on line at this link:

message 9: by Karen L. (new)

Karen L. Well, I picked up the book tonight, cause I felt perky for a change and started reading it and BAM... It clicked. I like it. I'm getting it. It takes being alert and in a good thinking state to read this. This takes me back to our past reading of Chesterton, in the intellectual way. Yet she is easier to understand than Chesterton for me.

Here's what I like from Chapter one:
At the back of the Christian moral code we find a number of pronouncements about the moral` law, which are not regulations at all, but which purport to be statements of fact about man and the universe, and upon;which the whole moral code depends for its authority and its validity in practice. These statements do not rest on human consent; they are either true or false. If they are true, man runs counter to them at his own peril

The God of the Christians is too often looked upon as an old gentleman of irritable nerves who beats people for whistling. This is the result of a confusion between arbitrary "law" and the "laws" which are statements of fact. Breach of the first is "punished" by edict; but breach of the second, by judgment.

"For He visits the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Him, and shows mercy unto thousands of them that love Him and keep His commandments."

Here is a statement of fact, observed by the Jews and noted as such. From its phrasing it might appear an arbitrary expression of personal feeling. But to-day, we understand more about the mechanism of the universe, and are able to reinterpret the pronouncement by the "laws" of heredity and environment. Defy the commandments of the natural law, and the race will perish in a few generations; co-operate with them, and the race will flourish for ages to come. That is the fact; whether we like it or not, the universe is made that way. This -commandment is interesting because it specifically puts forward the moral law as the basis of the moral code: because God has made the world like this and will not alter Lt, therefore you must not worship your own fantasies, but Day allegiance to the truth

The above scripture was one that troubled me. Those darn sins of the father! She shed some new light on that thinking for me. Thank you Dorothy!

message 10: by Katharine (new)

Katharine (katharhino) I finally got my library copy, right after I copied some chapters from the link Karen posted. (of course) So I'm diving in myself. It takes some getting used to her style of logical argument, but there is some great stuff here. I'll post some that really struck me a little later.

Karen, I also liked the part you highlighted. It's such a different way of looking at God and judgment, but it makes so much sense.

message 11: by Skylar (new)

Skylar Burris (skylarburris) | 134 comments Funny, I'm the opposite. Chesterton was easier to understand for me.

message 12: by Karen L. (new)

Karen L. Sayers does take work to follow, and I'm following, not knowing where in the heck I'm going. Still I find gems here and there along the winding way. I thought the following an interesting way to look at God.

Since this chapter-and indeed this whole book-is an expansion of the concluding speech of St. Michael in my play The Zeal of Thy House, it will perhaps be convenient to quote that speech here:

For every work [or act:] of creation is threefold, an earthly trinity to match the heavenly.

First, [not in time, but merely in order of enumeration:] there is the Creative Idea, passionless, timeless, beholding the whole work complete at once, the end in the beginning: and this is the image of the Father.

Second, there is the Creative Energy [or Activity:] begotten of that idea, working in time from the beginning to the end, with sweat and passion, being incarnate in the bonds of matter: and this is the image of the Word.

Third, there is the Creative Power, the meaning of the work and its response in the lively soul: and this is the image of the indwelling Spirit.

And these three are one, each equally in itself the whole work, whereof none can exist without other: and this is the image of the Trinity.

message 13: by Karen L. (last edited Jan 07, 2009 04:27AM) (new)

Karen L. From The Chapter "Free Will and Miracle."

God created man in his own image and likeness, i.e. made him a creator too, calling him to free spontaneous activity and not to formal obedience to His power. Free creativeness is the creature's answer to the great call of its creator. Man's creative work is the fulfilment of the Creator's secret will.-BERDYAEV: The Destiny of Man.

A character in a writer's head, unwritten, remains a possession; his thoughts recur to it constantly, and while his imagination gradually enriches it he enjoys the singular pleasure of feeling that there, in his mind, someone is living a varied and tremulous life, obedient to his fancy and yet in a queer wilful way independent of him.-w. SOMERSET MAUGHAM: Preface to "Cakes and Ale".

In considering the question how far the writer should permit his imagined characters to become the mouthpieces of his personality, we touched the fringe of that permanently baffling problem, the free will of the creature. All characters, from the most important to the least, and from the best to the worst, must express some part of the maker's mind if they are to be a living creation; but if all express that mind in an identical way, the work as a whole becomes dull, mechanical and untrue. At this point we begin to see faintly the necessity for some kind of free will among the creatures of a perfect creation, but our metaphor now becomes very difficult to apply, since it appears obvious that the characters invented by a human writer are his helpless puppets, bound to obey his will at every point, whether for good or evil.

message 14: by Katharine (last edited Feb 25, 2009 03:26AM) (new)

Katharine (katharhino) I was thinking about comparing Sayers' explanation of the Trinity to the depiction of the Trinity in The Shack.

The Shack:
More personal
More emphasis on love for us
Interaction between the persons of the Trinity

Better explanation of how the three persons are One
More differentiation between the roles of the Trinity
More logical

On the whole I thought Sayers has a much better grasp of the role of the Spirit, ironically. The Shack is better at reminding us of the humanity and sacrifice of Christ. But I don't think that is really Sayers' purpose in writing this, either. More thoughts? Does the explanation of the Trinity here work for you? It did for me, at least on a purely intellectual level if not on a "heart" level.

message 15: by Skylar (new)

Skylar Burris (skylarburris) | 134 comments I didn't really follow it, to be honest. Maybe I need to re-read this book when my kids start school and I can concentrate! I'm guessing I'll like the explanation better than the Shack's, but that may be because I am more logical than emotional in my understanding/thought process. I didn't like the Shack's depiction of the Trinity very much. I felt like I was trapped in Hallmark and I couldn't escape.

message 16: by Katharine (new)

Katharine (katharhino) Heh. Me too, Skylar. Me too. My mom had read The Shack before me and she warned me that there were certain scenes that would make me feel like I was in a Thomas Kincaid painting.

For me, the first chapters of The Mind of the Maker especially require a lot of concentration and even flipping back pages to make sure I'm following the argument. The later chapters are actually easier to read.

message 17: by Karen L. (new)

Karen L. I find I have to make sure I concentrate when I read Sayers. I go back for many second looks at her explanations. I did find her explanation of the trinity more logical than The Shack. She did differentiate between their roles better than Young did. Young had the Father, who was portrayed by the Aunt Jemima character (That's what Skylar called her and I agreed with that nick name), have a very nurturing role...maybe a comforting role, and that seems more the role of the Holy Spirit-"The Comforter" Am I making sense? Funny how I keep hearing conversations about The Shack. In fact in Adult Sunday school we are discussing it. I may actually post some insights from the class discussions on the thread for The Shack, following this Sundays class.

Well, I'm off to read some of those latter chapters of Sayers. I better put my thinking cap on!

message 18: by Karen L. (new)

Karen L. From what I can see now as I am in a latter chapter of the book- the chapter, "Problem Picture," is that this book almost has to be read in its entirety before the reader is able to actually grasp what Sayers is saying. I am having great trouble following her. I must reread passages often, however, there are these absolute jewels hidden throughout the book. the book is worth the read just for these jewels. I want to underline many incredibly brilliant things that she writes. I think I will just post a few separately.

message 19: by Karen L. (new)

Karen L. From the chap. "Problem Picture" ...Christianity is no isolated phenomenon; it has, to say the least of it, parallels elsewhere within the universe.

Now, when Isaac Newton observed a certain relationship and likeness between the behaviour of the falling apple and that of the circling planets, it might be said with equal plausibility either that he argued by analogy from the apple to a theory of astronomy, or that while evolving a theory of astronomical mathematics he suddenly perceived its application to the apple. But it would scarcely be exact to say that, in the former case, he absurdly supposed the planets to be but apples of a larger growth, with pips in them; or that, in the latter case, he had spun out a purely abstract piece of isolated cerebration which, oddly enough, turned out to be true about apples, though the movements of the planets themselves had no existence outside Newton's mathematics. Newton, being a rational man, concluded that the two kinds of behaviour resembled one another-not because the planets had copied the apples, or the apples copied the planets, but-because both were examples of the working of one and the same principle. If you took a cross-section of the physical universe at the point marked "Solar System" and again at the point marked "Apple", the same pattern was exhibited; and the natural and proper conclusion was that this pattern was part of a universal structure, which ran through the world of visible phenomena as the grain runs through wood. Similarly, we may take a cross-section of the spiritual universe (1) at the point marked "Christian Theology" and at the point marked "Art", and find at both precisely the same pattern of the creative mind; it is open to us to draw a similar conclusion.
(1 "Spiritual" is not quite the right word to oppose to "material"; nor yet is "vital" or "mental". Each is too limited, while "nonmaterial" is too purely negative. As R. 0. Lapp says (op. cit.) "we require a word which suggests that non-material reality possesses attributes lacking in matter"; and we require that this word shall cover the whole field of non-material reality. The word he suggests is "diathetic", meaning, "capable of disposing to a specification". Since this useful term is not yet common currency, we must make do with one of the others, intimating that we intend by it that which is purposive and orderly in its dealings with matter, as opposed to the random and chaotic habit of inanimate matter when left to itself.)

But if we do-if we conclude that creative mind is in fact the very grain of the spiritual universe, we cannot arbitrarily stop our investigations with the man who happens to work in stone, or paint, or music, or letters. We shall have to ask ourselves whether the same pattern is not also exhibited in the spiritual structure of every man and woman. And, if it is, whether, by confining the average man and woman to uncreative activities and an uncreative outlook, we are not doing violence to the very structure of our being. If so, it is a serious matter, since we have seen already the unhappy results of handling any material in a way that runs counter to the natural law of its structure.

message 20: by Katharine (new)

Katharine (katharhino) Karen, I loved that part you quoted about the creative mind being in the fiber of the universe and being in each person. I am an artist myself, but I've often thought that every person is creative in some way, whether he/she is an accountant or a construction worker or a teacher. Every person shows creativity in the way he or she lives life. At least, so we would if we are living our true potential. I've also thought about how sad it is that so many people hate their jobs (I used to hate my job too, when I worked in a corporate office) and I believe that is because so few people have jobs where their true creativity and intelligence is being used.

I need to go back myself and post some more of the "gems" as you called them.

message 21: by Karen L. (new)

Karen L. Katharhino, Creativity is certainly the way we most show how we are made in His image. Oh do post some of those gems. I want to see what others found to be great quotes.

message 22: by Julie (new)

Julie Golding Page (snowgirl) | 8 comments I found this to be a rich and complicated book - definitely worth a read, but not bedtime reading! I "met" Sayers through her wonderful detective stories first, so I was a bit surprised by this highly academic book. She was a very astute and intelligent lady, one of my Anglican heroes for sure.

Awhile ago I wrote a review of this book for our diocesan newspaper - it's posted on Goodreads, if anyone wants to check it out.

message 23: by Karen L. (new)

Karen L. Julie,
Absolutely not bedtime reading! I read your article and thought you did a great job!

message 24: by Karen L. (new)

Karen L. Hey folks, remember that NO book discussion in our group is ever closed. So if you browse these discussions, read the book on your own and want to pop into this discussion with your two all means , please do so!

message 25: by David (new)

David (dlbooher) | 4 comments Being brand new I must have missed something important. Are we reading The Mind of the Maker" for Advent? Do we read a book a season?

Enjoyed reading the comments.

message 26: by Charity (new)

Charity Ah--I just picked it up the night before last--having finished some frivolous fiction. I was stopped in my eyeball tracks by her statement about us being 'characters' within a book (God's book of the universe). Stunning.

message 27: by Skylar (new)

Skylar Burris (skylarburris) | 134 comments We don't have a set reading schedule. We periodically read a book for discussion. We read this one awhile ago, but threads always stay open for continued discussion!

message 28: by Karen L. (new)

Karen L. Hi David! Glad Skylar answered your question.If you are new to goodreads and being in a group,the best way to discover the fun of a group is to do the just "click" on this and that method, and explore. At least with goodreads we can't hurt anything or break our computer.

Hi Charity! Glad you jumped into this discussion. It was an intense book, and yes it is so cool, us being in God's book! Do share more as you go through this book or as the thoughts come to your mind :)


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