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.
Seeing the upcoming Hollywood biopic, documentary, and books are going to generate a whirlwind of interest, (and controversy) around Mr. Childers, I wanted to weigh in on this in regards to a character in the upcoming Eshu International novel, SHIFT TENSE.
Shift Tense is set some 50 years in the future in what is then the quasi-nation of Somaliland. The crew of Eshu International is caught in the crossfire of a nasty civil war around the increasingly valuable mineral resource COLTAN. There’s killer robots, pirates, child-soldiers, crazy dictators, hostile rival mercenaries and a lot more, but that’s the gist of the story. A number of the characters from RUNNING BLACK show up again, as well as a new character named Pim Visser.
A rather delusional Dutchman, Herr Visser firmly believes the mantle of Sam Childers has fallen on him decades later, and he has inserted himself in the warzone, ostensibly to rescue children from a short, brutal existence as conscripted fighters for the SPLA, or Somaliland People’s Liberation Army. A noble and hazardous calling… Only hitch is while the children he’s trying to rescue have been starved, terrorized and in many cases orphaned, they haven’t been kidnapped, brainwashed, or forced to fight. They are volunteers with a cause.
The current President-for-Life of Somaliland, General Dhul_Fiqaar, is pursuing a social revitalization plan straight out of the Khmer Rouge handbook. He’s ordered government troops to systematically slaughter dissenting towns and villages. They’ve done so in a rabid blood-soaked zeal fueled by decades of tribal animosity, usually employing the old-school machete and mass grave method, but more recently with the help of advanced remote robotic weapons systems supplied by Dhul-Fiqaar’s corporate partners.
A majority of the children who survived these attacks are relatively safe in the squalor of several UN IDP Camps. (Internal Displaced Persons, i.e. refugees) However, a number of them join the SPLA to avenge their families and overthrow a corrupt and appallingly vicious regime. Right or wrong, they are – for lack of a better word – volunteers.
Writing-wise, I need to go on record with the fact that I outlined the novel’s plot and created the deliberately ambiguous character of Pim Visser over a year ago. In my novel, he’s one of those self-appointed posers prompted by a convoluted mix of ego, compassion, and delusion that has gratuitously inserted himself in a complex and violent situation he utterly fails to understand. He is a pale imitation who knows only enough to make himself dangerous to everyone.
I want to make it clear that from what I’ve learned about Sam Childers through interviews, videos, and similar sources, I have only the utmost respect for him and his work in Sudan. If a sociopath like Joseph Kony kidnapped my grandson and Sam said he could get him back, I wouldn’t care one bit how he did it. And if he managed to put two in the hat of the guy that grabbed him, I wouldn’t loose any sleep over it.
I’ve already got a copy of Sam’s BOOK and I plan on seeing the film. For the record, the fictional character of Pim Visser is in no way a slight or an off-hand cheap shot at Sam Childers or his efforts.