Happy Birthday Dorothy (Dogma-loving) Sayers

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Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

Born today 116 years ago, Dorothy Leigh Sayers was an English scholar, playwright, and writer of detective novels. She studied medieval literature at Oxford, and was one of the first women to graduate (in 1915) from that university.

She may be best known for the detective novels featuring Lord Peter Wimsey. Her  translation of Dante's The Divine Comedy is considered unmatched in quality and readability.

My wife is the expert on her fiction. I never read any. But in February, 1968 I read The Mind of the Maker, and felt the holy fires of being a verbal creator with a small c in the image of God the Maker.

Just as good was the collection of essays, Creed or Chaos? In particular one is worth the price of the book just for the title: “The Dogma is the Drama.”

She never tired of deriding the delicate soft-pedaling of serious doctrine. For her it was the wild strangeness of the Biblical worldview that made it blood-earnest, interesting, and worthy dying for.

The dogma is the drama—not beautiful phrases, nor comforting sentiments, nor vague aspirations to loving kindness and uplift, nor the promise of something nice after death — but the terrifying assertion that the same God who made the world lived in the world and passed through the grave and gate of death. Show that to a heathen, and they may not believe it; but at least they may realize that here is something that a man might be glad to believe. (Creed or Chaos?, 25 or Letters to a Diminished Church, 21)