Craftsmanship: What’s Religion Got to Do with It?

Quite a lot, according to the English novelist Dorothy L. Sayers:

In nothing has the Church so lost Her hold on reality as in her failure to understand and respect the secular vocation. She has allowed work and religion to become separate departments, and is astonished to find that, as a result, the secular work of the world is turned to purely selfish and destructive ends, and that the greater part of the world’s intelligent workers have become irreligious, or at least, uninterested in religion.

But is it astonishing? How can any one remain interested in a religion which seems to have no concern with nine-tenths of his life? The Church’s approach to an intelligent carpenter is usually confined to exhorting him not to be drunk and disorderly in his leisure hours, and to come to church on Sundays. What the Church should be telling him is this: that the very first demand that his religion makes upon him is that he should make good tables.

Church by all means, and decent forms of amusement, certainly—but what use is all that if in the very center of his life and occupation he is insulting God with bad carpentry? No crooked table legs or ill-fitting drawers ever, I dare swear, came out of the carpenter’s shop at Nazareth. Nor, if they did, could anyone believe that they were made by the same hand that made Heaven and earth. 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. (76-77)

Sayers, Dorothy L. “Why Work?” Creed or Chaos? Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 1974. 63-84.

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1 Response to Craftsmanship: What’s Religion Got to Do with It?

  1. Dave says:

    I also find it interesting, that often the first time something is mentioned Biblically, it tends to be significant. So lets investigate the first mention of the Spirit of God being “upon” someone. When, and upon who, did God so show His favor that he wanted to invest some of Himself into that person? Was it Abraham? Nope. Isaak? Jacob? Nope. Must’ve been been Moses then, one of the greatest leaders of Biblical history? Nope. Who then? Why, the craftspeople of course. The first mention of God’s spirit being upon someone was when the Hebrews left Egypt under Moses, and God instructed them to build the Tabernacle, and it is said that God’s spirit was upon the craftspeople who built the tabernacle and made the impliments to be used within. In whom does God want to invest Himself? In those that express the creativity of Him in whose image we are created. The act of creating something, of making something with your hands, is something of importance to God.

    Sorry, started preaching…. I’ll stop.

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