Dorothy Sayer (1893-1957) should be remembered as one of the 20th-century great novelists. However, despite her remarkable literary achievements, Dorothy Sayers is frequently recognized as a Christian apologist. Located in “the same section of the library” as CS Lewis and, perhaps, closer to GK Chesterton, Sayers distinguished herself by calling “balls and strikes” as she saw them in a day of increasing compromise by the Church. It is for this reason that I believe her words have proven prescient. Her pearls of cultured wisdom and doctrinal insight are gifts for our time. Oh, that we would receive them. Oh, that we would even bother looking for them. For we desperately need her clarity of thought. However, I do recognize that her logic is so precise and the calculations of her Christian theological reflection so sharp that many of our contemporaries might find her insights doctrinaire or, more probably, quite indecipherable. For ours is a gutted age marked by regression, outlined with Spirit-inspired accuracy by Paul the Apostle in [Romans 1:18-32], into the darkness of unbelief that inevitably leads to certain madness.
Nevertheless, for those who will “[hear, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest]” ([Cranmer], BCP, 1549), a gift of a strong lens awaits, and the better to see. Because of her prominent position, she was invited to speak to a group of women and address the matter of feminism. Her title was characteristics Sayers: “[Are Women Human]?” This princess of the pen resisted the term “feminist” as the intuitive gazelle avoids the freshwater of a calm river, concealing waiting for crocodiles. Indeed, the ladies might have been surprised – they should not have been — but Dorothy Sayers took the opportunity to remind them that human beings are images of God. To go beyond man and woman—that is, male and female within mankind (sadly, one must admit one’s intentions when defining the sexes these days)—young and old, adult or child, is to create cases that not only dehumanize but also leave an open door for crouching totalitarianism, dictatorships, despotism, and other forms of State bondage (viz., Statism, that beastly power described in [Revelation]). It is for this reason that I have chosen to publish part of her speech on this blog. Thus, Dorothy Sayers and her word for today:
From “Are Women Human?”
“Indeed, it is my experience that both men and women are fundamentally human and that there is very little mystery about either sex, except the exasperating mysteriousness of human beings in general…If you wish to preserve a free democracy, you must base it—not on classes and categories, for this will land you in the totalitarian State, where no one may act or think except as a member of a category. You must base it upon the individual Tom, Dick, and Harry, on the individual Jack and Jill—in fact, upon you and me.”
Arbitrary and artificial categories will have a greater and more devastating effect on the human condition than COVID-19 ever could. Everyone seems to want to get in on their game of dividing people, even deciding which creature is more worthy of life than another (uncanny fulfillment of George Orwell’s metaphoric analysis of the origins of the Soviet Union, _[Animal Farm], 1945). _From corporations to advertising and even to federal forms, one is, now, required to ostensibly agree with someone’s cracked idea of categories of human beings even when the ideas are quite insanely wrong. Those who advocate such distinctions within humanity have cleverly assigned a moral value to this subversive initiative; showing that the one who denies the categories is unfairly labeled as “mean.” But let us be clear: One is not impolite or “mean” because one refuses to entertain a madman with his lunatic ideas. Proverbs 26:4-14 reminds us, “Don’t answer the foolish arguments of fools, or you will become as foolish as they are” (NLT).
Nor should we who refuse to admit ridiculous categories such as a third or fourth genders, menstruating males, or other such nonsense be concerned about offense. The offense, has, indeed, been perpetrated – on you. Don’t feel compelled to go along with this absurdity out of a nod to Christian manners. To admit lunacy as normative is the opposite of kindness. Instead, coddling confused characters provokes more significant delusional degradation. We are under no moral or civic duty go to concede absurdity. We have mentioned Romans chapter 1 verses 18 through 32. We do so again because the passage is so very relevant to the present crisis of fast-moving currents of polluted canals treatening the polis. Study carefully the teaching of St. Paul in Romans chapter 1, verses 18 through 32. There, Saint Paul accurately depicts the downward spiral from the plain and undeniable evidence of a Creator to the willful denial of God (creaturely rebellion) to deranged disregard for His law (creaturely anarchy) and, finally, codification of sinful insanity. The [Apostle of the Heart Set Free] describes a devastating human regression that is m by self-actuating judicial pronouncements: trigger points, if you will. The signposts from denial of God to deification of self are unmistakable:”God gave them up (24)” “God gave them over (26)” and “God gave them over” (28).
Polemical responses to the downward spiral are almost certainly ineffective. The reason is clear: In the latter stages of the Romans 1:18-32 scenario, the God-denier is a delusional being. So, arguments are not the answer for one in such a a self-induced judgement. There is reversal of the condition and remedy of the disease only the name of the Lord Jesus. “Jesus, save me” is a plea made not in meaningless incantation but in voicing the only Truth capable of reaching through the hardened layers of self-delusional sap, and the diabolical guanos. With GOD nothing is impossible.
We will increasingly need to talk together to help save our loved ones from the centrifugal forces of the downward spiral. Recovering and reading spiritual guides such as Dorothy Sayers is a good place to start.
A Prayer by Thomas Cranmer
Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; grant us that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them; that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our savior Jesus Christ (The Book of Common Prayer, the Collect for the Second Sunday in Advent).
Calvin, Jean. Calvin’s commentaries. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Books, 1999.
Cranmer, Thomas. “The Collect for the Second Sunday in Advent.” The Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England, 1549.
Orwell, George, and George Orwell. Animal Farm ; And, Nineteen Eight-Four. 2021.
Sayers, Dorothy L. “Are Women Human?: Address Given to a Women’s Society, 1938.” Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture, vol. 8, no. 4, 2005, pp. 165–178., doi:10.1353/log.2005.0040.