Sunday, October 03, 2010

Dorothy Sayers Against the Gnostics

 Speaking of a passage in Dante, Dorothy Sayers wrote, “Notice how entirely different it is from the Gnostic and NeoPlatonic thought which characterises the great Oriental religions and so often tried to infiltrate into Christianity. For the Gnostics, creation is evil, and the outflowing of the One into the Many is a disaster: the true end of the Many is to lose the derived self and be reabsorbed into the One. But for the Christian, it is not so. The derived self is the glory of the creature and the multiplicity and otherness of the universe is its joy. The true end of the creature is that it should reflect, each in its own way and to its capacity great or small, some tiny facet of the infinite variety comprised within the unity of the One....The higher the created being is, and the nearer to God, the more utterly it is itself and the more it differs from its fellow-creatures.” Introductory Papers on Dante
(Methuen & Co, London), 1954, p. 48.

“Now we must say, straight away, and without possibility of misunderstanding, that any doctrine which maintains that matter is evil in itself is entirely heretical and entirely un-Christian. The Church does not say that matter is evil, nor that the body is evil. For her very life, she dare not. For her whole life is bound up in the doctrine that God Himself took human nature upon Him and went about this material world as a living man, with a human body and a human brain, and that he was perfect and sinless in the body as out of the body, in time as in eternity, in earth as in heaven. That is her creed; that is the dogma; that is the opinion to which she stands committed. If she were for one moment to admit that matter and body were in themselves evil things, she would blast away the very foundations of her existence and utterly destroy herself. For her, matter is so good that God could make Himself a part of it, and take no hurt to His perfection, nor to His holiness.” From 1940 BBC radio address, ‘The Sacrament of Matter,’ lot 292, iii of the Sotheby’s collection, Wade Center. Cited by Laura Simmons in Creed Without Chaos, p.80.
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