Reading the Bible with Heart and Mind
by Peter J. Gomes
that “we do not solve mysteries; we enter into them,” and they alsounderstand that “the deeper we enter into them, the more illumination weget. Still greater depths are revealed to us the further we go.” Thus MissChristie's detectives are neither distracted by the apparent nor impatientwith the apparently obscure. They are usually not in a hurry, and unlike theharried police, they have time to pursue in a fashion that appears to beleisurely but is actually thorough, unraveling the whole skein of relationships, motives, personalities, and the like. True, both the detectivesand the police share one objective: the solution of the crime. In that sensethey are each problem-oriented, but as with so many things in life, it is notthe end that counts so much as the perspective. An essential ingredient in that perspective is imagination, acharacteristic the police are frequently described as lacking in themystery/detective story genre, and it is to the greatest of all detectives,Sherlock Holmes, that we must turn for the definitive word on the use of imagination in mystery. In “Silver Blaze,” the Sir Arthur Conan Doylemystery story in which the dog did not bark in the night, Holmes and Dr.Watson have an encounter with a very competent, aggressive, andselfsatisfied young policeman named Gregory. Taking the clues and evidencefully into account, Gregory comes to a conclusion as to the circumstancesand culprit, and rules out the inexplicable in favor of a solution. Holmes,however, as we know, is always fascinated more by the inexplicable than byexplanations, particularly by those drawn from clues that often stifle theimagination. Basing his investigation upon what isn't there, the absence of the explainable, Holmes goes on to solve the mystery and to get his man –or, in this case, his horse. In characteristically modest triumph, he explainsto Dr. Watson: “See the value of imagination. It is the one quality whichGregory lacks. We imagined what might have happened, acted upon thatsupposition, and find ourselves justified. Let us proceed.”Through the sympathetic but informed eyes of Dr. Watson, the man of science and of rational sympathies, we are led over and over again to marvelat the triumphs of instinct, intuition, intelligence, and the passion forimagination with which the amateur sleuth enters into his mysteries, andthereby manages, in fulfillment of the expectation of the genre, to solve not afew problems.