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Product Code: 5094
ISBN: 9781558964594
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Skinner House
Published Date: 10/24/2003
Pages: 296
Size: 7 x 5
Availability:In stock
Price: $16.00

Also available as an eBook from Google eBooks or as an eBook from Kindle eBooks.

Despite our repeated failures, our escapes, and our human tendency to become lost, we are unable to flee God's love. —from the Introduction.

The 100 short essays collected here were originally broadcast between 1979 and 1999 to rapt Sunday morning audiences on WCRB, a classical radio station near Boston. Scovel's five-minute radio sermons taught essential lessons to Bostonians of many faiths. Renowned for his preaching, for many years Scovel was pastor of King's Chapel, the historic Unitarian Universalist church on Tremont Street in Boston.

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Household Gods

Household Gods

Behind the Cup of Tea

The Last Time She Mentioned Dad

All Souls

Christmas in Boston

Dad, a Bullet, and a Miracle

A Flash from a Dimming Light

Goodbye to Uncle Leonard


Julia Phelps, a Good Teacher

Meeting Russell

Sixty-six Driving Lessons and Five Road Tests

Mom’s Last Blessing

My Father and Me

Especially, My Dear, to You

Sowing Peaches

The Stolen Infant

Lost and Found

After He Died

One of You

A World Charged With Grandeur

A World Charged with Grandeur

What a Number Means

Restored by Liturgy

Turn But a Stone

Take a Hike

You Are Dust

Mayhem and the Manger

A Meal in Miniature

How Can I Keep from Singing?

How We Read the Book of Nature

Ionesco, the Holy Agnostic

The Land of the Living

Let Pisa Lean

Ancient Ways

Music, a Natural Metaphor

Pavarotti’s Great Gift

They Will Be Witness

Outside the Frame

The Unexpected Carol

The Elephants Are Kin

Called Back To Life

Called Back to Life

A Baptismal Font Resurrected

The Door to Meaning

Bound for Glory

Resurrection Gives Us Life

The Tomb Is Empty

The Gift of Forgiveness

Judas Who Died without Mercy

Judge Sewall’s Repentance

What Love Is

How Real Love Comes

He Went on Dancing

Michael Doherty, an Ordinary Boy

The Death of Romero

So Many Little Deaths

Grace in the Face of Pain

Drums Tell the Story

The Souls of Our Children

Every Saint Has a Past

Even in Galilee

Your Feet Will Take You

Your Feet Will Take You

A Blizzard, a Blessing, and a Service

Hungry for Life with God

A Church Inside Gatwick

Behind the Pulpit

Trust the Writer

The Least of My Brothers

Good Medicine

Never Simply a Church

In the World but Not Part of It

No Explanations in Church

The Ultimate Intimacy

Look and Do Nothing

God in the Darkness

They Shared Their Faith

Sleep in Church

Praise in Thirteen Stanzas

God’s Second Joke

Words That Are Yours

Our Desire For God

Our Desire for God

Bach’s Own Faith

Both Man and God

Eric Liddell’s Finest Hour

Never Far From Home

Give Me Jesus


Allee Allee Home Free!

God’s Presence

The Light of the World

Jesus Now and Then

A Simpler Life

Therese of Lisieux

The Mystic Cabbie

The Loving Question

The One Who Surprises

The Piety of Roosevelt

Thou Hast Known Me

The Scent of God

Conversation with God

Geography first. Nineveh is five hundred miles east of Israel. Tarshish is due west by two thousand miles. God told Jonah to go to Nineveh. He booked passage on a ship for Tarshish.

We remember Jonah because we are Jonah. The word of the Lord comes to us saying, "Love your enemy," "Take up your bed and walk," "Leave home," "Go home," "Lose yourself," and we head in the opposite direction.

We may find ourselves saying, like Moses when God called him to lead his tribe, "Try my brother, Lord. He talks real good." Unlike the obedient Isaiah, we may say: "Here am I Lord, but send someone else. Send my brother, my partner, my colleague, send anyone but me. I'm not into self-sacrifice this year. I'm burned out. I need a vacation, not a vocation. I think I'll head for Tarshish." Tarshish is a tempting place. It's always two thousand miles from where we should be going.

Notice that after God ordered Jonah to Nineveh, Jonah didn't argue. He didn't refuse or get angry. He just sailed off in the opposite direction, a classic passive-aggressive. He avoided not just God's word, but God as well, and he left without a murmur.

God bless the atheists! At least they argue. At least they complain. At least they question. Like Job (and as God says at the end of that story) they are closer to God than those who offer cheap explanations for life's injustice.

It is the silent leave we take from God that hurts us most-the agnostic indifference, the passionless disinterest that cools the soul and quiets the mind with measurable benefits until suddenly we are plunged into the soul's dark night, when a good friend dies in a car crash, an infant is stillborn, our life savings vanish in one bad investment, the firm collapses, the doctor murmurs on seeing a gray spot on the X-ray.

Suddenly, angry and aware, we find ourselves once again in God's perplexing presence and far from the beaches and bistros of Tarshish.

I know from my own life that no one can forget God faster than a minister. Heavens, I say to myself, if I am talking God-talk, I must be God's servant. Well, no-no more, no less, than any other.

The word of the Lord came to Jonah, and he took a ship and headed for the sunset instead of the sunrise. The world is filled with émigrés like Jonah, sipping tequila at little tin tables on dusty streets, wiping glasses behind the bar, making bricks for Pharaoh, tending pigs in the local hog farm-men and women far from home but despite the distance never far from God; never far from God's call to come home and become themselves again, the men or women they were meant to be.

For here's the hell of that half-escape. It never works. We flee God's word, and we flee his mercy. We flee his command, and we flee his forgiveness. We flee his presence, and we flee his love.

That's easy to do when you're young and tough and have a world before you, a world to conquer and command. But the day comes when the heart's hunger wells so huge that we become one vast ache and then it's time to head for home, no longer a place now but a condition, something like peace. At sixty, I think I understand this.

The good news is: We cannot escape.

In our geography Tarshish may be two thousand miles west of Nineveh, but in God's geography they are next-door neighbors in the vast metropolis of his kingdom. The bar and the pigsty and the brickyard and the little tin table are not in hell but purgatory. They are stopping places on the way to heaven.

The ache in the heart and the hunger for home and the sour stink of the whale's belly are scenes from God's divine comedy in which we play our clumsy parts and through which we will at last come home. And the presence of the Lord that we tried to flee is everywhere, in the first act and the last. As the psalmist said, "Though I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me and thy right hand shall hold me."

“Carl Scovel was one of Boston’s great preachers and radio’s most reassuring voices. He sustained a ministry far beyond the walls of historic King’s Chapel. Now those words find their way into print and an even wider audience. What a blessing for us all!”

—Peter J. Gomes, Memorial Church Chaplain, Harvard University

“Grace, insight, truth and humor abound in these 100 brief radio talks as they do in the man who delivered them. Spiritual guide to believers and non-believers alike, Scovel does not so much preach about faith, hope and love as simply illustrate them from life. He speaks from the soul and to the soul, never far from the mark of our deepest needs.”

—John A. Buehrens, author, Understanding the Bible: An Introduction for Skeptics, Seekers, and Religious Liberals

“Scovel keeps his eye on the noble truths of life, the simple wisdom that reaches through layers of paradox toward the heart of the matter. Never Far From Home holds onto the possibilities of goodness within a frequently hostile or indifferent world. The author speaks with a wit that entices, startles, and delights, often arising from the most inconspicuous of places. This book will refuse to be shelved by those still susceptible to wonder.”

—Mark S. Burrows, Professor of the History of Christianity, Andover Newton Theological School

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