Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Saving Face

Once when I was in college at Harding University, a student mistook my brother, Scott, for a guy in his hometown of Nashville, Arkansas. The odd thing is the person the student thought Scott was was our first cousin, Jay Chesshir, who I think Scott bears minimal resemblance to.  Have you ever been told you look like somebody? What if you actually could take the appearance of another? The following is from December 1, 2007.

Did you see the news out of France? Doctors there Sunday performed the world's first partial face transplant. The recipient, a 38 year old woman whose face had been horribly disfigured in a dog attack, had been left with very limited speaking and eating capabilities. The new face belonged to a brain dead donor, whose family consented. The medical reports say the danger, as in any transplant, is rejection. I wonder if two women had any resemblance to each other or were close in age. Early indications are the woman's looks will be a hybrid of herself and the donor. The surgery was not a life saving one in the physical sense but perhaps mentally for the dog attack victim, it was. It's believed the first total face transplant will be performed shortly and ethical questions are arising. Some doctors believe there could be psychological trauma for the recipients. Who would be eligible for this extremely expensive procedure? Would donors and recipients be matched by ethnic group or gender? Could you see putting a twenty year old's face on a seventy year old? Could it become vanity surgery for the wealthy who simply want to be more attractive? How about the donors? Would you want someone to have your face? I am an organ donor but there is a difference between donating a heart and giving a stranger your identity. According to my students, it's just 'creepy.'

We identify ourselves by our faces. We look at pictures in yearbooks and say, "That's me," even though it's only a fraction of our bodies. Most of us see flaws in ourselves which others cannot detect. When coaching in Tennessee, I saw one of my basketball players staring at herself in the locker room mirror. "Look at this!" she told me. The young lady, who had a flawless complexion, was obsessing over a blemish so tiny I never saw it and I doubt anyone else did either. It ruined her day. She's not alone. When we had team pictures that were blown up into full size posters to hang on our gym wall, there were anxious moments. Nobody cares about what anyone else looks like- our own profile is the only one that matters. Would you change your face if you could? Who would you want to look like, a movie star or an improved version of yourself? I am comfortable with myself although a nice compliment is uplifting. Last year, I walked into worship service and one of our lovely Christian sisters, Ruth McCoin, stopped me. Ruth is a former teacher at Westbury Christian and one of my favorite people in the world. This was our conversation.
"Steve, I've decided who you look like. You look like that guy in the movies."
That's a loaded statement. It could be anybody but I went along.
"Who's that, Ruth?"Her answer?
"Jean-Claude Van Damme."Now for the uninitiated, Jean-Claude Van Damme is one of the baddest dudes around. The Belgium born action movie hero is a box office titan and Ruth's comparison didn't hurt my feelings although others may doubt the accuracy of her eyesight.
My response? "I think you're right, Ruth."

The scriptures don't give much detail about what its characters looked like. We know that Saul was tall, David was ruddy, Samson was strong, Elisha was bald, and there are several more examples but looks seem unimportant to the Lord. The Bible is more apt to speak of a man's heart than his chin or cheekbones. If we knew what Jesus looked like, we would be distracted by those who might resemble him physically rather than spiritually. Let me give you an example. My 8th grade Bible class is watching a video about Jesus. There are many inaccuracies, which is why I show it. The kids love to point out what is wrong with the portrayal. You know the biggest thing some of them get? We think the actor that plays Jesus is in a Geico commercial- you know the one with the cave men who get offended because they have been overlooked as a marketing group? That is more exciting than asking if the actor shows the love for the lost and the concern for the poor that Jesus did. I do have one favorite Bible description of a character. As the martyr, Stephen, was beginning his lecture to the religious leaders that would result in his stoning, Acts tells us 'his face was like the face of an angel.' Stephen-that's the guy I was named after. What an obituary! I might look like Jean-Claude Van Damme (allegedly) but he looked like an angel. I wonder who would win that beauty contest? I still have a very long way to go.

Applicable quote of the day:
"After a certain number of years, our faces become our biographies."
Cynthia Ozick

God bless,
Luke 18:1

E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com


JKC said...

Excellent! I read this article in an India newspaper this morning while on the airplane, & had some serious thoughts about this. I, too, am an organ donor, but can't be sure I would want to give my face to anyone (who would want it?) However, if I put myself in that poor woman's place, I am sure I would be most grateful that someone cared enough to be such a donor. But like so many things that have such good potential often are abused by those who want it for wrong reasons.

Well, Mr. Hawley, it has been too many years, but I think I would have to agree with your "looking" like Stephen of the Bible - at least from the inside - and that is what really counts.

Ashtonf said...

hey coach that blogspot today was kind of over my head i really didnt get it. Just ccheckin up with ya oh yeh congratulations on ur win yesterday at the game. Tough one

Devin Turner said...

Hey coach, I remember you talking to us about this in class!!! I hope the lady makes a full recovery i hope we have a good lesson today and that you have a good weekend!!!

Jon said...

I am so glad i dont have to get a face transplant!!!!

Razgriz said...

I also would have serious doubts about her eyesight. Wow though, its strange to think of someone else having my face, what if one of my friends were to meet that person by chance and mistake them for me? What would be the outcome? Or for me to have the face of another and meet that persons friend...Astonishing to think about.

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