A final comparison: here is the beginning of the Sayers chapter from Patron Saints for Postmoderns. To see the rest, you’ll need to buy the book. It’s available here. This excerpt is from the penultimate proof of the chapter, so one or two errors may remain:
Dorothy L. Sayers
Keeping It Real and Waking the Church
England’s Dorothy L. Sayers (1893–1957) was a prolific scholar, novelist,
essayist, playwright and translator. Those who know about her today
have usually met her through her detective stories and their memorable
hero, Lord Peter Wimsey. But there is much more to her story. In a
time of spiritual confusion, she emerged, almost despite herself, as an
unlikely voice of clarity and a compelling lay “preacher” of the gospel.
One more bit of writing I did on Sayers: I had the privilege a few years ago of interviewing Sayers’s principal biographer and close friend and colleague, Barbara Reynolds. The edited interview was published in Issue #88 of Christian History & Biography magazine, and can still be found here. For convenience’s sake, here it is in full:
Dorothy Sayers: “The dogma is the drama”
People Worth Knowing
An interview with Barbara Reynolds by Chris Armstrong
Saturday, October 1, 2005
A gifted public communicator, Dorothy L. Sayers (1893-1957) believed that those who slept through church had no idea what dynamite the gospel really was. Through her plays and essays, she tried to get people to see, as she said, that “the dogma is the drama.” And she succeeded brilliantly—opening up the power and truth of orthodox Christianity for many who had abandoned the lukewarm cultural faith of England’s religious establishment. CH&B senior editor Chris Armstrong talked recently with Sayers’s friend, biographer, and collaborator in Dante translation, Dr. Barbara Reynolds, from her home in England.
For comparison’s sake, here is another profile I did of Dorothy L. Sayers, for a Glimpses church bulletin insert–part of a series on Christian apologists. According to MS Word’s word-counting utility, this is exactly 1,000 words. Oh yeah. I’m that good:
Dorothy L. Sayers (1893–1957) was a prolific scholar, novelist, essayist, playwright and translator. Those who know about her today have usually met her through her detective stories and their memorable hero, Lord Peter Wimsey. But there is much more to her story. In a time of spiritual confusion, she emerged, almost despite herself, as an unlikely voice of clarity and a compelling lay “preacher” of the gospel.
Right now my San Diego colleagues Drs. Glen Scorgie & Jim Smith are doing yeoman duty pulling together a gazillion entries for the forthcoming Zondervan Dictionary of Spirituality. I’ve been given permission to share a couple of my own contributions here, which are on figures from my Patron Saints for Postmoderns. Here’s one:
Sayers, Dorothy L. (1893–1957). Literary “accidental apologist.” She was a British novelist, playwright, apologist, and translator. Best known for her Lord Peter Wimsey mystery stories (e.g. Gaudy Night), Sayers found a second career in writing apologetic essays and religious plays. Her B.B.C. serial, The Man Born To Be King (1941) rescued Jesus and the disciples from the fusty language of the KJV, initially scandalizing straight-laced Protestant groups and then delighting the nation—her friend C. S. Lewis read it every year during Holy Week. High Anglican in her own spirituality, Sayers wrote incisive apologetic essays such as “The Dogma Is the Drama,” clarifying the Great Tradition for layfolk and drawing many back to a moribund church. Her Penguin translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy reached millions and highlighted the down-to-earth humor and vivid storytelling of that classic—her notes explained the theology of the epic poem in clear, modern English. Sayers wrote effectively on the spirituality of work, vocation, creativity, and aesthetics, describing human creativity as a Trinitarian process (The Mind of the Maker) and insisting Christian artists work with quality and integrity. She was friends with G. K. Chesterton (with whom she helmed the still-active Detection Club) and Charles Williams (with whom she corresponded on Dante). Lewis called her one of the great modern letter-writers: her letters are published in 5 volumes.