Thursday, May 23, 2013

Faith And Doubt

I'm not a real handy man around the house. Oh, it's not that I don't understand the things a man should understand about basic plumbing, wiring and maintenance, I do. I'm just not good at it; and to tell the truth, I'm not that interested in it.

When I was a teenager, my Dad offered to teach me how to take care of my car's maintenance needs. I consented to learn how to keep water in the battery, change the air filter and change a tire when necessary. I even learned how to change the oil and the filter and for the many lean years after I married at age 18 while still working my way through college, I did all those things, not cheerfully but I did them to save the money. But that was the extent of it. Unlike my brothers, I never attempted to change the brake pads, put in a new carburetor or whatever. I did change the spark plugs on my old Ford Sprint once. Once was enough for me.

And so it is around the house. During the lean years of raising a family and building a career, I replaced a worn out garbage disposal. I stopped the faucets from dripping. I mowed the yard and built a fence around it.  I painted inside and out several times. I built a deck in the back yard. I even wired in some new electrical outlets, all to save money.

But as my income increased and the kids became independent, most all of that sort of handy man stuff stopped. I still enjoy working in my flower beds and making my back yard beautiful, but the weekly chores of mowing and trimming I hire out to a yard man whose time is well worth the cost. So it is with my automobiles. Since college I've averaged buying a new car every 3 - 4 years. The minute they start requiring anything other than routine maintenance their gone. I can afford to drive new cars. I enjoy driving new cars, so I drive new cars. It makes life more simple for me in the long run and less stressful.

From time to time, I'll still perform some little maintenance item around the house. We built the house a little more than 20 years ago (where has the time gone) and so it is getting to the age where some things have to be done. I hire someone to paint. No way am I going to paint these days. I hired someone to replace the water heaters. I also hired someone to put in three new doors that needed to be replaced.

In the near future, both the kitchen and the master bath will need to be gutted and rebuilt from the floor up. My friend Mike just got through doing that at his house and by doing it himself he saved a bundle, but there is no way in hell I'd even think of doing it. I'll suck it up and shell out the 40K to have it done.

But last week I finally got tired of the wife griping about the lanterns on either side of the front door. Once polished brass, they had long since become irreparably tarnished. Between the two lanterns there were six bulbs, only three of which would light. I had to agree with her, it was past time to do something about them. For months I had been keeping an eye out at Home Depot and Lowes for something I liked. Last week I finally found them, and at just under $100 each the price was right.

The wife asked if I was going to get someone to install them. "Naw, I can do it," I said. When she left for work Monday morning, I got out my ladder and my tools and tackled the job. It was a fairly easy task; and in fact, I enjoyed it.

As those of you who have performed this task know, the lantern hangs on a bracket which is attached to the electrical box with two ½ " screws. One or two longer screws are screwed into the bracket from it back side on which the lantern is secured with a decorative nut. These lanterns were big so two screws were used to secure each of them to the wall bracket.

Of course when I screwed the 2" screws into the back of the bracket I turned them clockwise until the protruded out from the bracket with enough length for me to mount the lantern and attach the decorative nut. With the nut attached I turned it clockwise to tighten the lantern securely against the brick wall.

While doing this, it occurred to me that in a way this bracket assembly was a metaphor for life because to protrude the 2" screw through the bracket I had turned it clockwise. Now I was securing the decorative nut by turning it clockwise, but the screw was turning counter clockwise from the perspective from which I had inserted it. Now, it was turning the opposite direction from that perspective; but from my perspective of tightening the decorative nut, it was still turning clockwise.

So it is in life. The perspective from which we view life is all important. Our perspective can turn things around completely. What is right can become wrong and what is wrong can become right based on our perspective, but the thing itself,whatever it may be, is in reality, just doing what it is doing with no regard to our perspective.

Several months ago I ran on to this You Tube video of Dan Savage. I liked the video, but I was awaiting some inspiration about how to use it in my blog. It occurred to me this little insight into the bracket mechanism of my lanterns  and perspective was my inspiration.

In the video, Savage speaks about faith and doubt; and Savage is a very intelligent guy who believes
only in what he can see and understand. Therefore, in spite of his confessed desire to find faith, his doubts make him at best an agnostic and in effect an atheist.

Recently, on her deathbed, his mother's last words were, "I'll see you again." Savage wants to believe that with all his will; but his will simply cannot overcome his doubt and it saddens him to realize that from his perspective, his mother is simply dead. She is not in heaven. She is dead and she is gone and her body is in a grave.

Savage and I shared much the same experience as children. Because of our intellects, doubts came early and came with powerful impact. We both quickly caught the church in its lies. And finding one lie led to another and another and another. Faith was severely shaken. In fact, it was almost shaken to death.

In Savage's mind all that is left of faith is the wish that it could be embraced. In my mind, I came to see faith as a matter of perspective just like the screw in the bracket assembly. The screw is just doing what it is doing with no real regard to my perspective. God either exists or doesn't exist without any regard whatsoever to my perspective. Everything in my intellect tells me it is all just a case of wishful thinking to believe in God and an eternal life. But my faith manages to keep a toehold on belief. Faith and doubt are but two different ends of the same screw, two different perspectives of the same thing.

What direction that screw is turning is just a matter of perspective. I can understand both perspectives. I embrace both perspectives. But I hope with all that is within me that my faith proves to be the correct perspective. To me, there is as much to suggest that God is real as there is to suggest he is not. None of it can be proven either way. Indeed, "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen," just as the Bible itself says it is.

All that is physically me, existed before I was born. My faith hopes that all that is me will exist after my death.

Savage is right. Almost all the church teaches is a lie. That is because the church is corrupted by time and by men. I have no faith at all that there is a city with golden streets and alabaster walls. I can't imagine anything more boring than sitting around praising God for eternity and I don't' think a god who would enjoy being praised in such a way is worthy of praise. But I choose to believe, to hope, there is consciousness after death in a place where the spirit will reside in peace forever.

In addition to being a man who has never quite been able to bring himself to faith, Dan Savage is a homosexual man with a partner and a child. In my faith, all that makes no difference at all to God because God views us all from only one perspective, endless unmerited grace and love. Salvation is universal. God does not hold Savage or anyone else hostage to the God given intellect that just won't allow the embrace of faith. Neither does he hold me hostage to my meager toehold on faith.

Lord I believe, help my unbelief!

Jack Scott


  1. Jack, I thank you for your impressive essay. you have put into words what I have believed for a long time but could not communicate as well as you did. I have wondered of late about the fact that as we age our views change about religion and faith. I know my views changed from agnostic to a believer.

    1. Caru, thanks so much for your comment. It is wonderful to hear that you grew from agnostic to believer as you grew older. That is so unusual. I'd really like to hear more about your experience.

      If you are willing to talk more, please contact me at

      Either way, again thanks for your comment. It's so disappointing to spend time putting complex thoughts into writing so they can be shared with others and then to receive no comment at all. It always makes me wonder if I'm more of an idiot than I think and just can't communicate my thoughts appropriately. But then just one comment like yours saves the day and makes all the work worthwhile to realize that someone else completely understood what I was trying to communicate.

      Thanks again.

      Jack Scott


I deeply regret that I must reinstate the verification process for those who want to leave comments on my blog. This is due to the intolerable amount of spam that spammers are attempting to leave on the blog.

At the same time I am changing settings so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will not have to have your comments moderated. My hope is this will encourage more readers to take the time to comment. The fact is I want to read comments with those of you who disagree with me as well as those of you who agree with me. All I ask is that you keep your comments clean and non-threatening.

The only reason I take the time to write this blog is to spur your thoughts and comments. Please do not let the spammers cause you not to comment. I know entering the verification words and numbers is a pain in the ass, but I hope you will not let the spammers cause you not to comment.

I still very much look forward to hearing from you.

Jack Scott

Anyone can comment on what I write in this blog. Regretfully, the recent amount of spam in my email account as required that I reinstate the word verification process for comments which I personally hate.

But at the same time I have loosened the comment moderation process so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will no longer need to wait for your comment to be moderated. I'm hoping this will tempt you to take the trouble to comment.

The truth is I want respectful comments both from those who agree with me and those who do not. All I as is that you keep comments to the point, clean and non-threatenting.

I look forward to hearing from each of you.

Jack Scott