If you go to the Book List page for each class, you will discover something new when you click on each title: Direct links to Amazon.com. If you prefer to order from them – great! If not, you will be able to see the book itself and can find the ISBN# so that you may purchase elsewhere. I hope this is a help for you! Please let me know if you have any questions.
(Book club is on hold for a bit. I’m determined to finish!)
Alister McGrath has written a new biography of Lewis that I can’t wait to dig into — especially once I read this quote! I’m so thankful that we open each class day with prayer…and poetry!
For Lewis, poetry works not by directing attention to the poet, but to what the poet sees: “The poet is not a man who asks me to look at him; he is a man who says ‘look at that’ and points.” The poet is not a “spectacle” to be viewed, but a “set of spectacles” through which things are to be seen. The poet is someone who enables us to see things in a different way, who points out things we otherwise might not notice. Or again, the poet is not someone who is to be looked at, but someone who is to be looked through.
(Because I have always wanted to use that word in a title. Redux. Brought back. Revived. I may be the last reader standing because the rest have finished the book and finished their commentary. I am determined to join the “finished” crowd, so I persevere!)
The Mind of the Maker chapter 5: Free Will and Miracle
Sayers is giving us a glimpse into free will and sovereignty through the metaphor of author-creation. Aha! I’m starting to get it here! We’re going to hear the story of Christianity, God’s story, through the picture of an author. Do we, as fallible humans, “get” creation? If you have ever had children, yes. Children may look like you, act like you, and bring you (most times) great joy, but they are unpredictable little imps. You can never be certain where they’ll end up. What about the playwright who has to allow for the fact that an actor might, horrors!, do severe injustice to his carefully crafted words. There’s that nasty thing called “choice” in action again. The best author (I should say Author) always maintains the integrity of His story and never allows the creation to run away with it. For one thing, if the author is merely a mouthpiece for his characters, you end up with writers who “do not…produce very good books.” Thank you Dorothy Sayers! When an author does step into the bounds of his story, it is as an agent of the miraculous, “by the new and more powerful way of grace.” And God stepped into His story.
chapter 6: The Energy Incarnate in Self-Expression
I admit to being a little big confused at the beginning here. Why is Sayers discussing what happens when an author writes his autobiography? But I plod ahead…highlighting and keeping track of her points until….AHA! The light has dawned. The Incarnation: when the creator of time steps into time as one of us. I will leave you with this challenge: Look at Sayers’ 4 points and imagine her talking about your favorite author’s autobiography. Now look at them again and think of Christ.
1. This work is a body of work like the author’s other works and suffers the same limitations.
2. “The autobiography is at one and the same time a single element in the series of the writer’s created works and an interpretation of the whole series.”
3. “Though the autobiography ‘is’ the author in a sense in which his other works are not, it can never be the whole of the author.”
4. “The truth about the writer’s personality will out, in spite of itself…nobody but a god can pass unscathed through the searching ordeal of incarnation.” And there’s more: “Pious worshippers…do their deities little honor by treating their incarnations as something too sacred for rough handling; they only succeed in betraying a fear lest the structure should prove flimsy or false.” Worth pondering in this season between Christmas and Easter!
Chapter 7:Maker of All Things – Maker of Ill Things
Everyone’s favorite philosophical topic: The problem of evil. To be perfectly honest, I could stand to go back and re-read this chapter. But I’m pressing onward so I will leave you with my pitifully, woefully inadequate interpretation. For the creator to redeem the fall, he had to create. And then he had to step into the Creation and experience it firsthand. The Incarnation.
I won’t say I have a complete understanding of the origin of evil, but I have a renewed gratitude for our Creator’s solution.
And that means classes are ending. Our last day of class is Thursday the 13th. I hope and pray you all have a wonderful Christmas break and are able to celebrate the birth of our Lord with joyful hearts!
PREP begins on Monday, January 7. Most classes have a little bit of homework. I encourage the students to finish this week so they can enjoy their break without having to worry about homework!
I’ve been asked to help with a writing project so I’m going to bow out until after Christmas. For now, I heartily recommend the blog of our fearless MOM (that’s Mind of the Maker) leader Cindy: www.ordo-amoris.com
Also, check out the mindful musings of my fellow PREP teacher Jen here: www.areturntovirtue.blogspot.com
If I thought Thanksgiving put me behind, then I’d better get caught up before Christmas hits!
How much can we really know an author? How much does his creation tell us? Of course we don’t read one play and think “Ah ha! That’s the total Shakespeare!” On the other hand, it’s ridiculous to think that Shakespeare did not invest parts of himself into his characters. And we humans, desperate for knowledge, want to get “at” an author with everything we have. Poor Homer. Would he have made the cover of People? But we can know the Iliad without knowing Homer, can’t we?
Sayers then goes on to say that because the world we reside in is living, changing, existing, and continuing–this is evidence of the fact that our living Creator remains intimately involved with His work. We are not “winding down” and the work isn’t finished yet. Whew! There’s hope!
How to bring this back down to earth? Interesting that last week my classes were trying to get at the meaning of one of Melville’s works. Can we truly know what he meant? How much of himself is there in the characters? Even though the book is “finished” (no longer being written), doesn’t it become new again when we take it in and begin to study it? Some might claim that reading a book in order to analyze and discover the purpose of the creator ruins the book. But who would claim that of reading and studying the Bible? Why is is wrong to analyze Billy Budd but ok to analyze Scripture to discover…The Mind of the Maker. Stay tuned….
Frankly gang, this chapter was hard for me to understand. I’m going to post my piddly observations and then head over to see what the other club members are saying. Sometimes we need a little help from our friends!
What I did glean:
Creative Idea = God the Father
Creative Energy = the Word
Creative Power = Holy Spirit
So in writing terms, the idea is the purpose and conception of a work that an author carries around in his head. The energy refers to the activity of producing it. The power refers to the completed work. All require the others and non can stand on its own. That I get. It’s not enough to have an idea floating around. It needs to be brought into existence. Simply churning out…something…makes not sense if one is not producing something with roots in an idea. And hopefully a finished product will have been guided by a purpose and energy.
As creators we need to recognize our responsibility to keep our metaphors alive, well, and working that they may continue to be useful.
For this chapter, I thought I’d give you a glimpse into how I read, trusty highlighters in hand of course. This book isn’t “entertaining” in the sense of the latest best seller. Nor is it like a devotional or poetry which can be dipped into for a thoughtful bite or two. No, Dorothy Sayers requires some serious work. The “joy” comes later, as a result of thinking, pondering, grappling.
Orange – vocabulary words. Here are 2 right off the bat, thank you Thomas Aquinas. I know what “analogically” means but I’m a little fuzzy on the next 2: univocally ( having one meaning only) and equivocally (subject to 2 or more interpretations).
Ah ha! Now the quote makes sense: “Those things which are said of God and other things are predicated neither univocally or equivocally, but analogically…”
Yellow: Used to highlight the main points of the argument. Sayers points out that interpreting by analogy is the way language works and the way our minds work. We grasp things in relation to our previous experiences. We have several analogies and metaphors to explain the nature of God: king or father. We know these descriptions are limited, but they are useful to us because we can understand them. If we look at “creator” as a metaphor then we are treading on new ground. This is not one of the ways of understanding our Heavenly Father that we are used to.
Here’s a novel idea! Sayers says “It is to the creative artists we should naturally turn” in order to understand the Creative Mind. She encourages us to look beyond our “analytical bias” and look to the painters and poets for help in understanding the truths of our faith.
Green: I use this for places and settings. Not used in this chapter.
Pink: Important names to remember. Thomas Aquinas, poem by Robert Browning
Blue: My favorite parts. This time there are two. First, if you doubt that we seek to interpret the world in light of our own experiences, all you have to do is look at your dog. How many times have you repeated what your pet is thinking and feeling and saying? We may not be able to enter into its mind, but that doesn’t stop us from claiming to know what is going on in there! Second, and this is a favorite because it is one I want to ponder a while. The artist comes the closest to understanding what it means to create “ex nihilo” because nothing is destroyed in order to bring something new into existence. A carpenter destroys a tree to make a table. A poet, on the other hand, brings words and thoughts together to bring forth something brand new “without any destruction or rearrangement of what went before.”
I may not be an artist, but I am beginning to understand the joy in my family and friends who have that gift. I can’t wait to read more!
Note: If you don’t have the book yet, don’t let that stop you! Feel free to comment and join in. Students, parents, interested bystanders… what are your thoughts? I’ll probably be “thinking out loud” as I attempt to process and make my way out of the shallow end.
Preface: Sayers’ purpose is to write “a commentary on a particular set of statements made in the Christian creeds and their claim to be statements of fact.” Before we can get there, however, we need to know the difference between fact and opinion. (Hey! This is something we talk about in class all the time.) The author bemoans the fact that “currently” (she wrote this in 1941) people don’t know how to read carefully, they don’t care whether the media is feeding them truth or not with the result that “Christian philosophy is transformed into a confused jumble of mythological and pathological absurdity.” The take-away? If we don’t understand fact, opinion, truth, or error, we have no hope of defining our terms.
Ch. 1: What is a law? This is pertinent to two different class discussions this week. One class read “Jury of Her Peers” by Susan Glaspell and another is reading The Scarlet Letter. Questions such as “is it right to take the law into your own hands?” and “should the church leaders and civil leaders have different areas of law enforcement?” are at the forefront. Sayers differentiates between “an arbitrary regulation made by human consent for a particular purpose” and “a generalized statement of observed fact.” The former requires a consensus of popular opinion, while the latter can’t be voted into effect and doesn’t require us to approve it or not. It’s just the way the world works.
You’re invited! This marks the first week of an online bookclub, mainly homeschooling moms, who are reading through The Mind of the Maker by Dorothy Sayers. Don’t worry about feeling like you are late to the party. Thanks to the wonders of amazon.com, you can be caught up in no time. (Perhaps you even have a long lost copy hidden away somewhere?)
Dorothy Sayers is well known as a mystery writer, Christian, friend of Lewis and Tolkien, and cultural critic. In this book she brings her sparkling wit and incisive intellect to bear on the subject of creativity. But it’s more than just “how do we paint a picture?”, it’s “what does it mean to be a creator?” and “what does the Trinity have to do with this?” .
How do book clubs like this work? We’re a casual bunch, friendly, and welcoming. I imagine most of the conversation will take place over at the home, er…website, of our fearless leader Cindy. www.ordo-amoris.com You can find the reading schedule here. As you read, feel free to add your comment to the discussion. (Any comments posted here will be addressed as well.)
I am armed with my trusty highlighters and am diving into the first chapter!