Core: noun, the most important part of a thing, the essence; from the Latin cor, meaning heart.

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 Volume 2.12 This View’s Prose November 25, 2002 

    Scalene Trinities    

The father-similitude of Godhead points to the perfect human parent; though this phenomenon is as rare as that normal eyesight by which, as a never-witnessed yet faithfully worshiped ideal, the oculist measures all the actual vision he has to deal with. So the Creator-similitude points to the perfect human artist. There are, however, no perfect artists — a fact on which literary criticism (an art-form with an exceptionally strong bias to death and destruction) tends to lay an almost exaggerated emphasis.

The imperfections of the artist may be conveniently classified as imperfections in his trinity — a trinity which, like that Other to which it serves as analogy, must, if the work is to be saved, be thought of as having all its persons consubstantial and co-equal. The co-equality of the Divine Trinity is represented in pictures and in Masonic emblems as an equilateral triangle; but the trinity of the writer is seldom anything but scalene, and is sometimes of quite fantastic irregularity.

At the end of Chapter VIII, I quoted a verse of the Athanasian Creed. In my childhood, I remember feeling that this verse formed a serious blot upon a fascinating and majestic mystery. It was, I felt, quite unnecessary to warn anybody that there was “one Father, not three fathers; one Son, not three sons; one Holy Ghost, not three holy ghosts.” The suggestion seemed quite foolish. It was difficult enough to imagine a God who was Three and yet One; did anybody exist so demented as to conceive of a ninefold deity? Three fathers was a plurality excessive even to absurdity. I found myself blushing faintly at the recitation of words so wildly unrelated to anything that the queerest heathen in his blindness was likely to fancy for himself.

But critical experience has persuaded me that the Fathers of the Western Church knew more about human nature than I did. So far as the analogy of the human creator goes, their warning is justified. Writer after writer comes to grief through the delusion that what Chesterfield calls a “whiffling Activity” will do the work of the Idea; that the Power of the Idea in his own mind will compensate for a disorderly Energy in manifestation; or that an Idea is a book in its own right, even when expressed without Energy and experienced without Power. Many an unreadable monument of scholarship is exposed as the creature of three fathers; many a column of sob-stuff betrays the uncontrolled sensibility of three impressionable ghosts; many a whirlwind bustle of incoherent episode indicates the presence of three sons at the head of affairs.

None of the works thus produced need be a bad book in the sense of being written with willful carelessness or in open contempt of artistic truth: “there are many ways in which poetry can go wrong, and an impurity in the intention is only one of them.” [C. S. Lewis: The Allegory of Love.] Their writers are not artistic atheists, but only heretics, clinging with invincible ignorance to a unitarian doctrine of creation. And it is true that even in them a complete trinity must be to some extent engaged upon the work, otherwise they could not write at all. But their work is hampered by their lop-sided doctrine, and they create wrongly because they do not “rightly believe.”


Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957)


The Mind of the Maker (1941)
Chapter X “Scalene Trinities” pp. 149ff


    The Defense of Liberty    
    What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling seacoasts, the guns of our war steamers, or the strength of our gallant and disciplined army. These are not our reliance against a resumption of tyranny in our fair land. All of them may be turned against our liberties, without making us stronger or weaker for the struggle. Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in our bosoms. Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere. Destroy this spirit, and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own doors. Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage, and you are preparing your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of those around you, you have lost the genius of your own independence, and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises.
    Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
    from Speech at Edwardsville, Illinois, September 11, 1858
Collected Works
Volume III p. 95

 Volume 2.12 This View’s Prose November 25, 2002 

The View from the Core, and all original material, © 2002 E. L. Core. All rights reserved.

Cor ad cor loquitur J. H. Newman — “Heart speaks to heart”