Book Review: Mind of the Maker

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Dorothy Sayers undertakes an explication of the Trinitarian nature of God by analogy with the trinitarian manifestation of the creative mind as experienced by human artists. She describes the Idea as the unifying principle of a work of art, the Energy as the manifestation of that Idea in matter (i.e. the actual creation of the work of art), and the Power as the reception of the work of art as a finished object in comparison with the Idea; and she analogizes them to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit respectively. Without pretending that this is a comprehensive explanation of the mystery, she insists that it is no more unclear or incorrect than any of the other more technical or familiar explanations, and indeed that all explanations, even the most technical and least imagistic, must finally be acknowledged to be merely analogies.

From this platform she examines various aspects of the creative process, creating an in-depth and insightful overview of human creativity and art, while at the same time invoking a meditation on the Blessed Trinity and points of contact between that (popularly considered) “ethereal” dogma, and the real life that Trinitarian theologians are most accused of overlooking. Her chapter topics range from what makes art good or bad, defects in the writing process leading to defective writing, how the sublime Idea survives transformation into a limited sensory medium, the contrast between the artistic and scientific worldviews, and some implications of the contrast on social debates about work and employment.

This is a book to be engaged with fully, to be read with an open and receptive, but also critical, mind. The penultimate chapter on the problem/solution hermeneutic alone is well worth weeks of study and conversation. However, I do not recommend skipping to any particular chapter until you have read the whole book through as the chapters proceed in a stepwise and cumulative fashion.

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