The Mind of the Maker by Dorothy Sayers — Book Review

In case you have not heard of Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957), she was an English crime writer and poet.  She was also a Christian.  In this book, she maintains that, as humans, we can only understand God through analogies or metaphors that reflect human experience.  For example, we have been taught to think of God as a Father — the perfect Father, of course, with attributes that are recognizable to us as children with parents.  Another analogy is one we have been exploring this month — the Shepherd and his sheep.

The Mind of the Maker uses a less common analogy.  Since God is the ultimate creator, Sayers compares Him to a human artist, most specifically, a writer.  Like God, the writer has a trinity which makes up the creative process.  This trinity is composed of the Idea –as in, ‘I have an idea for a book’ — the Energy –which is the sum and process of writing the work itself– and the Power–the thing that comes back to the author as it is communicated to other readers and produces a response in them.  Each of these parts are separate, yet all are inseparable in the completed book.  If you have a bit of trouble following this, don’t worry, so did I!

Here’s how Sayers explains it:

“…it is the pattern of the creative mind–an eternal Idea, manifested in material form by an unresting Energy, with an outpouring of Power that at once inspires, judges and communicates the work:  all these three being of one and the same in the mind and one in the same in the work.  And this, I observe, is the pattern laid down by the theologians as the pattern of the being of God.”

As a writer myself, I found this to be an appealing metaphor.  To Sayers, the “image of God” in each of us is this trinitarian creative principle.  Of course, it applies not only to writers and artists — it is in our nature as humans to create something.  The difference is that God created the universe out of nothing, while we can only create with things that already exist;  still, we are able to take existing items and turn them into “a new thing.”

If you decide to pick up this book, be warned that it requires deep reading and concentration.  Sayers is extremely logical and detailed in her presentation.  It found it more like reading philosophy than literature.  I’m not sure I would have persevered, had she chosen an analogy that resonated less with my own experience.

Verdict:  Four stars.  Well written, but not for everyone.  If you are a writer, or a logical thinker you may enjoy it.


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