Putting a Face on God: The Most Important Face You’ll Ever See

In the Academy Award nominated movie “Nebraska” Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) is losing what little of himself is left via dementia, or via a life and a brain damaged by alcoholism. He receives a clearing house letter that convinces him he has won one million dollars. All he has to do, he believes, is get from Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska to collect his prize. The trouble is he can barely walk much less drive. That and he hasn’t really won anything.

Bruce Dern as Woody Grant

Bruce Dern as Woody Grant

His youngest son, David (Will Forte), however, agrees to take him to Lincoln, if only to shut the old man up, prove to him he is not a millionaire, and—maybe—spend a little time with his mentally disappearing father.

Along the way they stop in Hawthorne, South Dakota where Woody was born and grew up. Also, along the way David learns more about who his dad really is, both a miserable failure and a man with a gigantic heart.

In one scene Woody staggers out of a bar with David following. Woody just told his long-lost friends he is going to be a millionaire.

“Did you see their faces? Did you see their faces?” Woody asks amazed.

Suddenly the almost gone Woody is alive. It’s as if Woody remained a good-for nothing-drunk until the proud looks on the faces of his friends lifted him out his wasted life and proved, finally, that Woody Grant is somebody.

We’ve all had Woody’s experience of being affirmed or destroyed by the looks on the faces of those around us. If looks could kill, as a preacher, I would have died several painful deaths. Once, while preaching, I had an 103 degree temperature and kept saying the same non-sensical thing over and over again. It’s a good thing I was too bleary-eyed to see the looks on the faces of the congregation.

Link Enjoying Summer

Link Enjoying Summer

God seems to have given us an eye, literally, that seeks approval or disapproval in the faces of others. Scientists call this facial processing. New

Addi's Fun Face

Addi’s Fun Face

born infants’ eyes track their parents’ faces in a pattern that seems to give them clues about the world they were just launched into. And within days newborns begin to mimic their parents’ expressions. Parents learn just as quickly to mask any facial response to their child’s many near death encounters, else the child actually die of hyperventilating while crying.

But do these faces we put so much stock in reflect reality?

Sometimes.

But often not. For example, single guys are perpetually and particularly bad at female facial processing. This may be why they remain single.

But we can all remember times when we misread facial clues. Sometimes these misreadings have lifelong ramifications. I remember my dad’s face being blank in response to me. And I interpreted that as lack of interest and worse lack of love. Because he died when I was eleven, it has been hard to go back and correct that misperception. So, I’ve looked for love elsewhere. Thank God, I found it.

Giving God a face maybe one of the best of the many reasons God became flesh in Jesus.

The Woman Caught in Adultery by David Hayward

The Woman Caught in Adultery by David Hayward

Remember that sad story in the Gospel of John about a woman who has been caught in the act of having sex with a man she is not married to and is dragged in front of Jesus (that kind of sex was a big deal back then and would have called for not only seriously ugly facial processing but stoning)?

Jesus nonchalantly kneels down and draws in the dirt.

“Go ahead and kill her,” he says. “If you too are without sin.”

Slowly her ugly faced accusers sneak away.

“Where are those who condemn you?” The woman doesn’t know.

“Then neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”

Here’s the beautiful thing I’ve seen in this story recently. The passage doesn’t say Jesus looked her in the face or that he had a kind look on his face. But I can’t imagine it any other way.

John 8

John 8

Such kind, firm, life-giving words cannot come from a mouth formed in a scowl. Nor scorching eyes or knit brow. We can all accurately imagine what her accusers’ faces looked like and how Jesus’ face contrasted their withering hate and disapproval.

She could well have said, “Did you see the look on his face?”

And maybe that, along with Jesus’ words, and, of course, his death and resurrection, are what transformed her and allowed her to become who she really was: go and get false love from sex and men’s faces no more.

Diogo Morgado as Jesus in the new “Son of God.”

Diogo Morgado as Jesus in the new “Son of God.”

The question for us is the same as the one Jesus asked this long ago prostitute. “Where are the faces of those who condemn you?” Like the woman, when we focus on his face instead of the myriad of our accusers, we see love and forgiveness, not condemnation. We see his honest omniscient, open face and hear him say, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more. Look no more at faces beside mine”

Categories: Art, authenticity, belonging, Bible, Christianity, Eugene C. Scott, God Sightings, Jesus, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

105 Years Late: A Review of G.K. Chesterton’s “Orthodoxy”

Searching for Truth or England

Searching for Truth or England

Chesterton begins his brilliant book on how he came to believe Christianity is true with a humorous parable about an English man who sets out by yacht to discover a new world and, through a slight miscalculation, lands back in England, believing he has discovered “a new island in the south seas.” Such a man we would call a fool, he insists.

Later, with a turn and honesty characteristic of the book, Chesterton writes, “I am [that] man who, with the utmost daring, discovered what had been discovered before.” Of course Chesterton is not speaking of a new world here but of old beliefs he names “Orthodoxy.” What Chesterton is getting at is that in his search for new truth, he discovered an 1800 year-old story that answered his hardest questions and deepest doubts.

Chesterton continues, “I am the fool of this story and no rebel can hurl me from my throne.”

But I beg to differ. If I cannot cast him down, I can at least stand shaking beside him. Chesterton’s story is mine. I too have acted the fool believing what I am learning has just magically appeared on my library shelf bound in first edition beauty.

For example, over the last several years I had come to believe I discovered the Trinity, God Three in One, is not best understood by metaphors using eggs that are three in one, yolks, whites, and shells, nor water which is able to be gas, solid, and liquid but rather that God in his trinitarian Being is relational, an eternal expression of community. It is not a metaphor but a reality. Being created in God’s image, humans are communitarian beings too. Why do humans only live and thrive together? Chesterton asks. Because the Trinity is “society,” not meaning high society or culture but togetherness.

 G.K. Chesterton by Mills

G.K. Chesterton by Mills

Further I was stunned and delighted to discover that long before giants such as Eugene H. Peterson, Madeline L’Engle, Donald Miller, and even midgets like myself, recently came to talk about life as story, Chesterton did so. Why does man have free will? he wonders. Because a story is not a story without a choice, the inciting incident. And every choice is in itself a story.

But Chesterton and I are not alone in this foolish re-discovery of old truth. It is the story of us all. And Chesterton tells his–of how he came to believe–in such poetic, fun, witty, honest, and challenging images, ideas, and language that many, if not all, of us can relate and join him on his yacht of discovery. Fools all.

The story of the yacht man is not just one of foolishness, however. For Chesterton it illustrates the enigma of humans yearning to set sail and return home in the same breath. One of the beautiful truths Christianity showed Chesterton is that it holds us “astonished” and “at home” all at the same time. This both/and he calls riddle/answer is the format he uses to address the questions about faith he faced. We need, he says to believe something that is at once “strange and secure,” combining an “idea of wonder and an idea of welcome.” The same rule is necessary in order for one to rebel or follow. All men are born upside-down, he says. Christianity puts us right side up with our feet on the ground. It answers these both/and questions.

But above all, I too am the fool of this story because, though professors, friends, colleagues, and even enemies have raved about this marvelous book, I have only just now discovered “Orthodoxy,” a mere 105 years after its publication. I am sorry for that.

Orthodoxy

Orthodoxy

But “Orthodoxy” did not simply let me explore old truths as if new. It inspired me as a writer. Oh, to turn a phrase as does Chesterton and see the words weeping or laughing or cajoling as they dance on the page. To write such, I might be able to say, “It is finished.”

For me reading Chesterton’s true, fearless, poetic, and rhythmic prose is like watching that rare sunset containing all the life and colors of a day drop below my beloved snow-capped Rocky Mountains. I’ve seen the words before, but not like this.

Listen to his last paragraph:

“The tremendous figure [Jesus], which fills the gospels, towers in this respect, as in every other, above all the thinkers whoever thought themselves tall.

“His pathos was natural, almost casual. The Stoics, ancient and modern, were proud of concealing their tears. He never concealed his tears. He showed them plainly on his open face. . . .

“Yet he concealed something.

“Solemn supermen and imperial diplomatists are proud of restraining their anger. He never restrained his anger. He flung furniture down the front steps of the temple. . . .

“Yet he restrained something.

“I say it with reverence. There was in that shattering personality a thread that must be called shyness. There was something he hid from all men when he went up a mountain to pray. There was something that he covered constantly by abrupt silence or impetuous isolation. There was some one thing that was too great for God to show us when He walked upon our earth.

“And I have sometimes fancied that it was his mirth.”

As I read that last sentence and smiled, my wife Dee Dee walked up to me.

“Enjoying yourself?”

Ironic, that at that moment, I apparently could not contain mine.

Categories: Art, Books, Christianity, Eugene C. Scott, God Sightings, Literature, Living Spiritually, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Four Reasons Blogs With Numbers in the Titles Won’t Change Your Life

Frank and Lillian Gilbreth. Frank said they had 12 children because "there were cheaper by the dozen."

Frank and Lillian Gilbreth. Frank said they had 12 children because “they were cheaper by the dozen.”

You may not realize it, but it’s likely Frank Gilbreth, Sr. impacted your life. Don’t recognize his name? In the early 1900s, as a bricklayer, Gilbreth developed a more efficient, simple way to lay bricks. Soon the ambitious, creative Gilbreth and his wife Lillian became famous for pioneering what today is called “the efficiency movement.” Their “time-and-motion” studies standardized work and eventually thousands of businesses—GE and General Motors among them—bought in to their “scientific standardization” methods. The Gilbreths believed there is “one best way” to accomplish any job or task, whether at work, school, or home. The discovery of that “one best way” in any field was the supposed key to success. Ironically at home their research led them to begat twelve children.

What do the Gilbreths have to do with numerical blog titles? Just this. The current epidemic of blogs focusing on “five steps, twelve ideas, three keys,” or any number of better-living philosophies featuring numbers in their titles can be traced back, at least in part, to the Gilbreth idea that a better life is born from breaking complex tasks (life) down into small, simple steps. Frank called these “therbligs” (his last name backwards with an s).

This philosophy is now foundational to our modern lives. We search for one pill, one system, one idea, one breakthrough that will fix our troubles. Thus the proliferation of (over) simplified numerical solutions to our complex and—sometimes troubled—lives. It is obvious we believe (or desperately hope) that life, not just work, can be boiled down to one, two, three—or however many—simplified “therbligs.”

But can it?

I don’t believe so.  And here are my four [sic] reasons why:

Nothing in life is that simple. You may be able to delineate “12 Quick Steps to Search Google Like an Expert”, but philosophers, scientists, theologians, artists, and politicians have been searching for the keys to understanding human life for centuries. Psychologists believe it resides in the mind. Theologians argue for the soul. Artists assert that the heart contains what truly makes us human. Modern science proposes it’s the genome. Yet even the variety of answers to the question, points to complexity. By nature life is complex and unique.

In his letter to his friends in Ephesus the Apostle Paul calls us God’s workmanship or more literally, poetry. This means we are works of art to be wondered over rather than machines to be tinkered with and perfected through time and motion methods.

As helpful as these lists can be, there are not five mechanisms to make your marriage amazing, or 12 tricks to finally get men to like church, or 10 steps to the top of Mount Everest.

Da Vinci Vitruve Luc ViatourBreaking life into pieces kills it. The brilliant and inquisitive Leonardo da Vinci dissected live animals to discover how their organs worked. What he also discovered is that unfortunately this killed them.

Likewise our modern quest to dissect life into steps reaps the same result. But this death comes in that we no longer see life as whole and mysterious and wonderful, but rather as segmented, disconnected, and, often, meaningless. And an article on Seven Practices to Bring Meaning to Your Life will not resuscitate it.

In Subversive Spirituality Eugene H. Peterson argues that, according to poet Czeslaw Milosz, “. . . the minds of Americans have been dangerously diluted by the rationalism of explanation.” In other words, we think there is an easy explanation for everything. This intellectual vivisection leaves dead on the operating table imagination, which is essential to life. Peterson writes, “Imagination is the capacity to make connections between the visible and invisible, between heaven and earth, between present and past, between present and future.” Wonder and imagination, not narrow understanding bring life.

These lists do not effect the changes we so desire. These list-blogs may or may not be well written. And they may or may not make sense. Though they may get the most hits. But they do not effect the change we are all looking for. Paul Zak, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University, in a several year study, found that stories shape the brain and stimulate active responses to the issue portrayed more than a mere mention of the issue.

Imagine Victor Hugo’s masterpiece Les Miserables about justice, the law, and grace written and titled The Three Mistakes Every Human Being Makes or Elie Wiesel’s heartbreaking work, Night, about the holocaust retitled Two Things that Could Have Stopped Hitler and Saved Six Million Lives. In so doing, the world would have missed two beautiful, important, penetrating works of art. Works of art that drove their message far deeper into our hearts and minds than any mere list.

The late Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini said, “I don’t like the idea of ‘understanding’ a film. I don’t believe that rational understanding is an essential element in the reception of any work of art. Either a film has something to say to you or it hasn’t. If you are moved by it, you don’t need it explained to you. If not, no explanation can make you moved by it.”

Paul Zak concludes his article, “So, go see a movie and laugh and cry. It’s good for your brain, and just might motivate you to make positive changes in your life and in others’ lives as well.”

These blogs are dumbing us down. This point is a result of the above. The more we read only bullet point pieces on important issues such as marriage, church attendance, and parenting, the less able we may be to read deeper, harder works. Also, simplistic approaches to complex issues gives us false hopes that we can answer all questions and solve all problems easily. This is the same effect 30 minute television sitcoms have had on us. Online news service SocialTimes reported on a study that found social media may have reduced the average attention span from 12 minutes to five. Personally I know the more I am on-line the more I flit from one thing to another, like a butterfly lost in a field of dry weeds.

Reading is so much more than gathering information. These numbered outlines are to reading what paint by numbers are to art. When I shut down the Net I dig deep, and can read for hours and am transported and transformed.

But many of us are losing the ability to think deeply and struggle over deeper concepts and ideas, especially if there are no easy answers offered.

MereChristianityC.S. Lewis gave Mere Christianity as talks on the BBC between 1942 and 1944. He said they were for the common man. Today many people start the book version and quickly give up because they lack the staying power. Lewis has not changed, we have.

But I read mainly to be transported and transformed. Information is handy but secondary.

I’m currently reading Flannery O’Connor’s A Prayer Journal. The journal contains no new information on prayer. But on page one the then 20 year-old college student and future celebrated novelist and short story writer writes/prays, “Dear God, . . . You are the crescent of a moon that I see and my self is the earth’s shadow that keeps me from seeing all the moon. The crescent is very beautiful and perhaps that is all one like I am should or could see; but what I am afraid of, dear God, is that my self shadow will grow so large that it blocks the whole moon, and I will judge myself by the shadow that is nothing.”

I’ve read that prayer several times and it is beginning to sink in. But I may or may not have skimmed a blog titled, The Two Ways Self Blocks Your View of God, but I certainly would not have savored it and been moved by the truth, poetry, and complexity of it. And I would not—probably—have been moved to pray that very prayer for myself.

Categories: Eugene C. Scott, God Sightings, happiness, healing, Jesus, Living Spiritually, Meaning, mystery, story, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

A Brief Excuse for Why I Disappeared from Blogging

You’ve heard it said, “Excuses are like armpits. Everyone has one and they all stink.” Except in the Navy, where I first heard that wonderful cliché, we did not use the word armpit nor the word stink.

Anyway, I know I dropped from the face of the blogging world. Thanks for your patience and understanding. I wound up serving in three wonderful and challenging ministries and have focused all of my hard-to-come-by writing on my WIP, aka: the never-ending novel. It was a very busy fall.  But I plan to be back in 2014. I hope you’ll let me back into your busy schedules. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Eugene

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,000 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Categories: Uncategorized | 7 Comments

What C. S. Lewis Might Say About the Trayvon Martin Coverage

Why has the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman ruling grabbed America by the throat and not let go?

  • Because a young black man lost his life.
  • Because a young hispanic man has had his nearly destroyed.
  • Because the media need to manufacture crises to make money.
  • Because it shows prejudice (on both sides) is still alive and well and needs to be addressed, continually.
  • Because it is a tragic story filled with grief.
  • Because depending on your opinion, it may or may not represent a miscarriage of justice.
  • Because we have a great human ability to care about tragedy and suffering.

Yes, and . . .CS Lewis

  • Because we too often prefer to express our concern about tragedy and suffering from a distance.

C.S. Lewis makes this last point after attempting to answer the theological question, “What about the people in Africa who may never hear about Jesus?” Though a valid question, Lewis wonders how often we pose it to move the debate away from our own hearts and lives.

In other words, it’s safe to be passionate and outraged (on both sides) about the Martin/Zimmerman tragedy because we don’t really have to do anything about it. We don’t have to look our actual neighbors in the eye and care or stop judging.

This distance is an old and common dodge. A slick young lawyer tried it when Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan.

“Who’s my neighbor?” the lawyer deflects, putting that safe distance between him and his guilt and the needy.

“You are,” Jesus answers. To whomever is near you.

P.S. Whenever I write about a current hot topic or name drop in my blog, I feel sleazy and cheap. So, please, my friends, Jesus, and the late Mr. Lewis, forgive the piling on and name dropping.

Categories: authenticity, Bible, Eugene C. Scott, God Sightings, grace, Jesus, Living Spiritually, TV | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

You Are Not–And Never Will Be–In Control. But It’s Okay!

No Where to Turn

No Where to Turn

Recently a good friend took his first job as a pastor. He asked several friends and pastors for advice on how to start this exciting and important calling. Below is my response. I think you might get something from it too.

Dear Mark:

I am honored and humbled that you asked for my wisdom and advice as you move into your first pastorate. You mention you are just a “little trepidatious” about this step in your life. That’s how I feel about writing any such letter and giving advice. As you know from our long relationship, I have a stack of life and pastoral mistakes that Sir Edmund Hillary might consider too tall to climb. Then again maybe that’s why you asked. So, with trepidation and apologies I’ll take my shot.

You are not in control.

Countless are the people and things I’ve loved and believed in so deeply and held so tight in my grip that I’ve crushed them. Unfortunately those closest to me all have bruises on their souls from my attempts at control. You are probably one I’ve crushed in this way. Please forgive me.

I’ve resorted to control mainly because I’m afraid and have very little faith. The stupid thing is that the few times I’ve managed to control something has further diminished my faith. But preachers are inclined toward believing in control and are even taught–mistakenly–to believe and act this way. After all, if we are not right, peoples’ eternity hang in the balance.

But I’m not alone in this. Most humans think life is about control. Many of us, especially Christians, live as if all bad things should and can be avoided, as if life is a disaster to be prevented rather than an unexpected gift to be lived and enjoyed. Living by the illusion of control leaves us in a daily state of frustration and leads to deadly legalism, anger, fearfulness, depression, broken relationships, and disappointment*. Believing we are in control is a denial of our frail humanity and need for God. Believe me; I know from personal experience.

Therefore, my advice to you would be for you to give up the illusion of control a few years before I did, especially before you have children. Paradoxically I know, however–because of my past–you will accept this advice while at the same time making the mistake of resorting to controlling behavior.

But you are not in control and it’s okay because . . .

God is a Redeemer not a controller. 

For too long I’ve lived in regret–sometimes shame–of the mistakes I’ve made. I mean seriously where did I get the bright idea that as a frickin’ thirty-year old I could turn around a sick and wounded church, that was in decline, full of fear and hate, living in the past, and where the Senior Pastor was having serial affairs? From my own ego, that’s where. Big mistake. I moved my wife and two young children into a situation that cost us years of pain (*see the list above for the effects this had on us).

Yet, I don’t know how we would have gotten from the ugly of there to the beauty of here by another road. I met one of my best friends in the pastorate in that horrible place and your family after we moved, and then God gave us Emmy as a reminder of his redemptive grace, and Katie met Michael and now we have two amazing grand children and . . .

In the Bible God seldom, if ever, uses the word control of himself. This is especially true in the sense of how we define control: to prevent bad or painful things, or to get what we think we need or want, or to have people behave the way we think they should, including ourselves.

Rather, God calls himself Redeemer and acts accordingly. If God were controlling, the way we wish he were, he would not need to be a Redeemer. He would have prevented the fall and every human disaster thereafter. This is why the cross is the center of human/Divine history. It is the ultimate act–not of control–but redemption: raising life from death, beauty from ashes, hope from hopelessness. Redemption, however, does not mean “all things happen for a reason.” God is not passive nor reactive. Redemption means God gives all things that happen a reason.

Sage advice

Sage advice

A couple more:

You are not as important as you think nor as unimportant or inept as you feel.

Now is the only moment you have but God holds a myriad of such moments in his hands for you.

Relationships are sacred.

Love is a power not an uncontrollable feeling or abstract idea.

John Calvin, Mother Theresa, and Steve Jobs are all remarkable people. But they were human.

Somehow three is an important and sacred number.

Fun is serious. Laughing, mountain biking, making love to your wife, staring into a deep blue sky, and reading a novel are as holy as prayer.

Journal.

But that’s probably more than enough for now, except this. Enjoy the ride because God is . . . a Redeemer.

Love, Eugene

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Fathers’ Day Facebook Hangover: The Real State of Fatherhood

Yesterday Facebook was filled with Fathers’ Day wishes and sentiments. I was glad for them and even joined the fray. But judging by the posts you would think fatherhood is a universally admired occupation and is being taken off the greasy shelf in the garage where it was placed to wither in the 1960s.

But as the video above and the one below show, to believe such is a mistake. With all due respect to the feel good holiday that comes every June, fatherhood remains in trouble and it’s loss is one of the main ills in our world today.

Below is a blog I wrote in 2011 about how my fatherlessness is a personal mirror to the statistics of how damaging the current view of fatherhood is.

In 2010 Jennifer Aniston became the spokeswoman for fatherlessness. In her movie, “The Switch,” Aniston plays Kassie, a self-assured single woman, who Aniston describes as “ready to have a child and she’s not in a place where she feels she needs a man to do it.”

Ms Aniston, I don’t believe, was intentionally promoting fatherlessness. She was simply promoting her movie. I don’t think she gave a second thought to the plight of the 24 million children growing up in homes without fathers in America today, at least until trouble-maker Bill O’Reilly brought it up.

I think about it though–maybe too much. I can’t really help it. Like the kid in “The Switch,” and every other fatherless child, I had no choice in growing up without a dad. My father died of a heart attack when I was 11. I often wonder what life would have been like, both good and bad, if dad had come home that night after welding bumpers in his best friend’s garage. I only know after that summer night in 1968, life got down-right hard. So much so if I had my way, no kid would ever have to grow up without a dad–or with a bad one.

So, Aniston really struck a nerve. “[Kassie] wants a child more than she needs a man,” said Aniston. Want and need are key words here. Kassie may not need a man to become a mother–maybe all she needs is a sperm-donor. But the kid needs a dad. And believe me, no kids wants to grow up playing baseball or dolls with just a sperm-donor.

But my argument against raising kids without good dads is not sentimental and anecdotal. My case is both statistical and personal.

  • Kids in fatherless homes are twice as likely to do time in jail. All of my siblings, including me, found ourselves in jail.
  • 63% of youth suicides happen in fatherless homes. I am alive only because my mom–and God–intervened.
  • 71% of high school dropouts live in fatherless homes. I dropped out and three of four Scott kids failed to earn a diploma.
  • Fatherless children are at greater risk for drug and alcohol abuse and mental disorders. Okay, so this is getting too personal.
  • Single parent families are more likely to live below the poverty line. I had to start working at age 13 and at 16 dropped out of high school in order to work full-time.
  • Children without fathers are more likely to beget kids to fatherless homes. This may be the most painful personal statistic. My sisters’ children grew up without their fathers and now several of their children (a third generation) have kids who don’t know their dads, though one family is motherless (equally painful). And the cycle seems unlikely to stop. How I weep for them.

Unfortunately these are just a few of the obstacles us kids without fathers have to contend with. There are myriad more.

Losing my father left a huge hole in my life. Fatherlessness is leaving a vast canyon in our culture. We gape at the hole and then try to fill it up or deny it’s there.

For many years I blamed my dad for his death, just as if he had flipped me off and walked out the door. After all, he smoked and ate fatty foods. There is always blame enough to go around. But that was simply a way for me to try to deal with the loss. Blaming my dad did zero to alleviate the pain and problem. Sure Hollywood, et. al. have exacerbated or glorified the problem by promoting what they think are funny or unusual stories for the sake of the box office. Or worse they have promoted an ideology that sounds progressive and wise, but is not. As a man, I get the feeling some think life would be better without men, much less fathers. (Responsibility is another issue and I believe men, no matter the contributing cultural factors, need to own their role in this epidemic. More on this next week). But blame. What a waste of time.

Denial is another way we try to fill the gap absent fathers leave in our lives and world.

My family often said we were better off without him. He was strict. Dad would have never let me grow my hair out like I had. Real men didn’t wear long sissy, hippy hair. Sometimes dad got really angry, especially with my oldest sister. Today he may have bordered on what we call abusive. And he made me mow the lawn and sweep out the garage and clean greasy car parts.

But even as we sat around the basement living in denial, my heart ached for my dad to yell down the stairs: “I told you kids to get to bed. Don’t make me come down there.”

If you tell yourself something untrue long enough, maybe that’ll make it so. It didn’t. Listen to pop culture on fatherhood and you will come to believe it is, at best, archaic, and at worst abusive. It’s not.

In his book “To Own a Dragon: Reflections on Growing up Without a Father,” Donald Miller relates how hard he tried to fill his father gap. To no avail. Not even God, the Father of all will fill it. When something crucial to our lives goes missing, God is not capricious enough to replace it with a stand-in, or even stand in the hole Himself. As it should, this is why grief lingers. Forty years after my father’s unexpected death, I look back at all the silly, hurtful, even beautiful things I tried to replace him with. I’m glad I failed. Now–mostly–I live with this hole in my soul willingly. I know now to fill it is to not acknowledge it.

Perhaps that is what we, as a culture,  do too. Like bewildered people watching a fault line grow in the street before us, we deny, blame, anything but say, “Look, a terrifying hole. What are we going to do about that?”

Jennifer, Kassie may not need a man, but we all need a father. And it’s okay.

P.S. See fatherhood.about.com/od/…/a/fatherless_children.htm for more stats and http://www.co.jefferson.co.us/cse/cse_T86_R33.htm for more local Colorado stats.

Categories: belonging, Christianity, Eugene C. Scott, Living Spiritually, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Fathers’ Day Remembered and Redeemed.

Memorial Day 2013On June 17, 1968, we buried my father in Fort Logan National Cemetery. Fathers’ Day after that became only a painful reminder of loss and fatherlessness. But God, the Father, is a Redeemer even of loss so deep.Harold C Scott

In June of 1972 God invited me into his family by offering to be my Father who would not leave or forsake me. Then on March 1, 1982 God made me a father with the birth of Katie. Next came Brendan in February of 1984 and then Emmy in March of 1993. Each of them have shown me who God is as a Father by loving me as their father.

But God was not finished. He brought Addi and Linc along and I became a grandfather. Redemption indeed.

I still miss my dad today, forty-five years after his death. But because God can turn even ashes to beauty, Fathers’ Day is no longer a painful reminder of loss and fatherlessness but a day filled with meaning and love and hope.Redemption

Categories: Art, belonging, Eugene C. Scott, God Sightings, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Imago Dei in Her Soul

Poem Eugene C. Scott, Art Michelangelo’s Creation of Eve

Poem Eugene C. Scott, Art Michelangelo’s Creation of Eve

Categories: Eugene C. Scott, God Sightings, Living Spiritually, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 13 Comments

The Promise: Easter as You’ve Never Imagined It

After a year or more of pursuing this vague idea of  living spiritually, God has been calling me into wonder. And not just wondering why or how things are, though that too. I mean an awe, an apprehension and living within mystery. A living out of the Albert Einstein quote, “He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.”

And so as Easter approached, it occurred to me that living spiritually and Easter especially is about wonder, mystery. God, so often doing and being just beyond our ability to fully grasp. Even if we know and believe the facts of Jesus’ resurrection, there is much we cannot explain or understand.

Neal Armstrong said, “Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.” There is mystery and wonder in a once occupied tomb now empty. But the heart of Easter is that we cannot completely understand. And the call of the empty tomb and Jesus alive again is to lean into that mystery and wonder, not control and contain it with anemic explanations, either expressions of faith or unbelief.

The Promise began in this pursuit of wonder and led to a conversation about the hidden wonder of Easter and the question, “Why an empty tomb?” By the end of the conversation, we were wondering what the world would be like if the women returning to Jesus’ tomb had found his body still there.

Thus I rewrote Luke 24:1-12 (If this is sin, God forgive me) to reflect Jesus not fulfilling his promise to rise again. Then I gave the storyboard to a gifted young film-maker, Drew Byerly, who filmed and directed our heresy.

Take a moment to reflect. How would I be different? How would you be different? Assuredly we would not be who we are, we would not be changed. Then listen to Neal Browne read what Luke actually wrote. And then spend a few minutes with me in my Easter sermon exploring the question: “Why an Empty Tomb?”

P.S. I am taking a short Sabbatical and taking time to listen, read, learn, pray, walk, and write (though not for public consumption). I will return to blogging in a couple of weeks.

Categories: Art, Bible, Christianity, Eugene C. Scott, God Sightings, Jesus, Living Spiritually, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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