Sunday, November 11, 2012

Online Book Club: *The Mind of the Maker* Chapter 2

Tardy, I sigh.  But I will post nonetheless and hope to get ahead of this week's game this afternoon. We will see.  This is an ongoing project of Ordo Amoris. Please join us!

In Chapter 2 of The Mind of the Maker, Dorothy Sayers explores "The Image of God" and helps us to see how our comfort with the idea of God as Father should extend to comfort with the idea of God as Creator, the ideal of how He does these things helping inform how we should do them.

The quote from Aquinas at the front of the chapter, saying that the things we compare God to are rooted more in Him than in the things, reminds me of Platonism, our search for the ideal beyond ourselves. When we experience something here that seems "just perfect," it is simply that our imaginations haven't taken us as far as they might, if the material world can still satisfy them, even briefly.  I watched a fascinating video clip the other day, linked on Facebook by Sarah Hempel Irani, a local sculptor.  It is below, and it explains how Greek sculpture progressed to the ideal human image and then beyond, to the level of impossibility. It's fascinating!

On p. 21 in my edition, she says, "The Jews, keenly alive to the perils of pictorial metaphor, forbade the representation . . . ", but isn't it God, rather, who forbade, keenly alive to the perils for man?

P. 24 she notes that in science and math only formulae can avoid analogies, and she does a beautiful job explaining the problem with the wave/particle way of describing light.

P. 25 -- God as Father doesn't beget as men do. This made me think deeply about the reality that men might think they are begetting when they make love to their wives, bed a slut or prostitute, or even rape a girl -- but God controls the issue!  The man may think he's creating, bending the future to his will, but God controls all of that ultimately. "who -- not of blood nor of a will of flesh, nor of a will of man but -- of God were begotten."  (Young's Literal Translation)

P. 27  "We extend [the concept of a creator God] to the concept of a maker who can make something out of nothing; we limit it to exclude the concept of employing material tools."  I love how Sayers helps me understand philosophical concepts.  Then on p. 28, "We spend our lives putting matter together in new patterns and so "creating" forms which were not there before."  Cooking does that!  Fusion cuisine -- it's all fusion!

Finally, on p. 31, she says that "It is now [after three centuries of analytic bias] very difficult for the artist to speak the language of the theologian or the scientist the language of either. . . . [T]he human mind is once more beginning to move towards a synthesis of experience."  Hmmm.  Is that what all the "smells and bells" in emergent/emerging (I get them mixed up!) worship is all about?  Is that why we lament that we don't have any great Christian writers and artists just now--we're still working our way toward that synthesis?  Will or do the conservative synods, presbyteries, and other bodies of ruling theologians allow for or welcome artistic expression of theological truths?  How far can those be "embodied" to remain orthodox, how far can we take them in worship? We have used the poems/prayers from Puritans, *Valley of Vision,* in worship in years gone by -- does Wendell Berry qualify?  Your favorite writer?  HUGE questions here.


Cindy Rollins said...

I cannot answer all of your huge questions because for some reason my concentration on this book is making it seem more difficult than when I whizzed through it late in the summer :)

Our church is trying to open its arms to local artists and even the Covenant art students including Kristin Mathis are painting a mural on our walls based on answers to prayer.

But there are many huge questions that linger in my mind about the artistic temperament.

I tend to be literary but not scientific nor artistic if that is possible.

Brandy @ Afterthoughts said...

I like your post. :)

Let's see...I will try to be commenty... :)

Sayers says that the Jews forbade the depiction of God. I *think* that technically she is right. God forbade the making of *idols* for the purpose of worship. But historically lots of people groups have taken this to extremes, such as the Amish only allowing very practical forms of art, if they allow it at all. The Jews believed that attempting to depict God (or even write His name--so many at least these days write G-d) put them in danger of transgressing that command, so they forbade it altogether. At least, I think this is so. I cannot think of God specifically forbidding His own depiction, though of course even such a thing would have to be imaginative seeing as, according to my catechism "God is a spirit and has not a body like man." :)