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CLAY 2018: Thunder Bay

Distortion/Contortion and Freedom/Perfection

A recap of Scott Evans’ presentations on Friday, August 15th, at CLAY 2014. 

“Distortion and Contortion: Can You See You?”

On Thursday, CLAY 2014 keynote speaker Scott Evans continued his discussion of how we often hide our true selves from others by attempting to become something that we are not. This struggle comes with consequences, as we contort ourselves in order to fit society’s expectations. Scott said that society’s expectations can act as funhouse mirrors, warping our perceptions of ourselves. What we see in that mirror is not what we really are.

Scott showed us a series of drawings he made as in his early twenties of himself, standing in front of mirrors that reflected who he truly believed he was – small, fat, untrustworthy, guilty. Scott discussed the struggles he went through in adolescence as he tried to emulate what he believed society expected of men: being strong, hairy, big, and good at sports. Since he couldn’t control the first three things, he decided to try to excel at sports – but that didn’t win him acceptance by the boys in his high school. Scott decided to prove his worth as a man through a different channel.

“I decided that I would never be defined by men. Instead, I decided that my identity would be defined by women.” He dated many of his friends, but the relationships always ended because they were more about him than the person he was with. He saw himself as someone who couldn’t be trusted with anyone’s heart. His method of trying to earn respect as a man left him feeling even more isolated from others. “If people realized that I was doing these things, they would think that I wasn’t worth it.”

Scott brought his story to a close with a reminder: “If I’m going to be perfect in a distorted mirror, I have to be distorted in reality.” The expectations that society places on us and the images that we believe we have to conform to are not who we really have to be.

Scott left us with a question to ponder over the afternoon: “What are my mirrors? How do I see myself?”


“Choose One: [ ] Freedom [ ] Perfection”

So how do Christians respond to all of this? Scott began by reading “You Are Special,” a children’s book by Max Lucado about a world where wooden puppets award each other with star stickers for doing things correctly, and dot stickers for errors. One puppet, Punchinello, spends his life covered in dots for mistakes he’s made. At the end of the book, he goes to Eli, the carpenter who made him, and learns that “the stickers only stick if they matter to you.” As he leaves Eli’s house, the dots begin to fall off.

Scott used this story to introduce the topic of the evening – the choice between freedom and perfection.

“So many of the things that our culture – including Christian culture – offers to use are just ways to get more stars.” But God isn’t interested in how many stars or dots we have. We will never be good enough, but the cross shows us that we need never be.  

“What the cross does is too big for words. What the cross says is that you are worth dying for… Jesus demonstrates what we are worth to Him. God has done it all.”

In the story of the woman caught in adultery, the religious leaders are ready to punish the woman for her sins. But throwing rocks is not what following Jesus looks like.

“We talk about God and that He hates sin because He loves rules, like He’s some great headmaster in the sky. God hates sin because He loves us.”

Jesus asks for the person without sin to cast the first stone. He’s not asking because He believes that there’s someone in the crowd who is without sin. He’s reminding us that we’ve all fallen short somehow. But that’s not the point – we’re all set free in the end, just like the woman caught in adultery.

– Hannah Shirtliff, CLAY 2014 Communications Coordinator