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
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
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