Author’s Notes: Intrinsic Quality
I had already decided this thought by Dorothy Sayers deserved its own Post, but now I get to tag team with Mike Duran’s excellent Ten Steps to being a Mediocre Writer
Here’s the quote:
No piety in the worker will compensate for work that is not true to itself; for any work that is untrue to its own technique is a living lie.
Yet in Her own buildings, in Her own ecclesiastical art and music, in Her hymns and prayers, in Her sermons and in Her little books of devotion, the Church will tolerate, or permit a pious intention to excuse work so ugly, so pretentious, so tawdry and twaddling, so insincere and insipid, so bad as to shock and horrify any decent draftsman.
And why? Simply because She has lost all sense of the fact that the living and eternal truth is expressed in work only so far as that work is true in itself, to itself, to the standards of its own technique. She has forgotten that the secular vocation is sacred. Forgotten that a building must be good architecture before it can be a good church; that a painting must be well painted before it can be a good sacred picture; that work must be good work before it can call itself God’s work.
– Dorothy Sayers
The essential fact is that excellence is the mark of Christian endeavor. Resting in grace is one thing, but created in God’s image, we are obligated to strive. Period. Consider Jesus’ admonition to enter at the narrow gate, or read the book of Malachi to see God’s opinion of deliberate laziness, dishonest sacrifices, and sloppy devotion. I make no claims to mastery as a writer, glass artist or preacher/Bible Study leader, but this thought is a standard for me. A point of reference. A goal. I know when I’ve done my best. And I know when I’ve slapped it together.
No, I’m not advocating a works or performance mentality. I’m reinforcing the concept of being a responsible adult.
Someone once said that we’d reached a point in our society where the first responsibility of intelligent people was to re-state the obvious. The parable of the Invitation to the King’s Wedding Feast reveals our need to prioritize and stop making lame excuses. God preserve us from the spirit of pious mediocrity in any endeavor. God deserves better. The world needs better.