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Creation and Trinity in the Act of Writing

Monday, May 12, 2014

Excerpt from Chapter 1 “Christian Poetics, Past and Present” by Donald T. Williams in The Christian Imagination, Leland Ryken, Ed.


While the doctrine of sub-creation was created to explain certain features of fantasy literature, it is applicable to many other genres as well. Even in the most “realistic” fiction, the writer creates a world, peoples it with characters whose actions give its history significance, and determines the rules of its nature. And usually there will be a hero, a villain, a conflict, and some sort of resolution (which Tolkien called eucatastrophe), so that the secondary world echoes the primary creation in more ways than one. The hero, at great personal sacrifice, defeats the villain and rescues the damsel in distress, and they ride off into the sunset to live happily ever after: this basic plot we keep coming back to is salvation history writ small, as it were. As [Michael] Edwards says, literature is “drawn” towards a biblical reading of life. . . .

In 1941, Dorothy L. Sayers provided a detailed analysis of that creative process in The Mind of the Maker. She developed the relevance of the imago Dei for understanding artistic creation explicitly in trinitarian terms. In every act of creation there is a controlling IDEA (the Father), the ENERGY which incarnates the idea through craftsmanship in some medium (the Son), and the POWER to create a response in the reader (the Spirit). These three, while separate in identity, are yet one act of creation.

(quoted from pg. 16, bold emphasis mine)

About the book:
The Christian Imagination brings together in a single source the best that has been written about the relationship between literature and the Christian faith. This anthology covers all of the major topics that fall within this subject and includes essays and excerpts from fifty authors, including C. S. Lewis, Flannery O’Connor, Dorothy Sayers, and Frederick Buechner.

Work Cited:

Williams, Donald T. “Christian Poetics, Past and Present” in The Christian Imagination. Leland Ryken, Ed. Colorado Springs, CO: WaterBrook Press, 2002. Print.

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