I’ve decided to add a new category to this web site. You’ll find it over on the side and it’s called “an eclectic list of heroes.” If you click on it, for now you’ll just find this post — which will hopefully be the first of many.
I think having heroes is a critical part of spiritual growth. They give us something authentic to aim for. We find inspiration in their stories and journeys. They tell us something about ourselves and what we can do on this planet.
Back in my cubicle-in-a-publishing-house days, a had a picture of one my heroes as the wallpaper on my computer. One of my friends walked by and did a double-take. He said, “Kelli, why do you have F.D.R. on your computer?…And why is F.D.R. wearing jewelry?!”
Well, it wasn’t F.D.R. It was a photograph of Dorothy Leigh Sayers — British theologian, friend of the Inklings, and murder-mystery-novelist extraordinaire.
My friend was right — the resemblance to F.D.R. was really uncanny.
I was first introduced to Dorothy Sayers in a theology class by another brilliant theologian, Gil Meilaender. There are many things to admire about Dorothy Sayers, such as her influence on and acquaintance with the likes of Lewis and Tolkein; her courageous metriculation through Oxford as one of the first female graduates (with honors too!); and of course her thought-provoking treatises on issues of theology and Christian practice.
But I think what I love most about Dorothy Sayers is her role as mystery novelist. She created Lord Peter Wimsey and the series of novels in which this royal sleuth solves crime (pre-C.S.I. technology). I love that this vibrant Christian wrote about murder, created a rather sexy (and odd) detective, and was respected by others in the genre. I love that though theological issues are woven in the background of her novels, they are hardly “Christian.” (How could one really write a “Christian” murder mystery? At least a decent one at any rate? Doesn’t seem possible to me.) I love that Sayers makes no bones about the importance of doing a good job at one’s work (in this case mystery writing) as an avenue of serving God.
I can’t wait to meet Dorothy Sayers some day. She was far from perfect — in fact, had a few “famous” sins and also odd quirks like a massive collection of cats in her old age. But it’s this flawed humanity that sets her squarely in this list. She was real. She was creative. She defies the stereotypes in many, many ways. She is a hero to me.