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Skull Carving

Updated: Mar 30, 2023

Calvary (Golgotha), Lucan van Leyden,

Last week, Dr. Scott reminded us in her reflection,

Participation means that a distinction must be made between the holy and the common, the heavenly and the earthly. Part of that involves our recognition that we are not the holy and the heavenly. A proper deference to a superior Being is not belittling but rather an acknowledgement that our sin both separates us from Him and provides the impetus for Him to reach toward us.

This week, her words will draw us to a place where we will be reminded that the death of Jesus provides a clarity; but what if we lose the deference we must be postured with and instead dissect the crucifixion as a student takes a scalpel to a cadaver?

In Book IV of The Brothers Karamazov, Father Paissy shares his first words of counsel with Alyosha by stating,

‘Remember, young man, unceasingly,’ . . . , ‘that the science of this world, having united itself into a great force, has, especially in the past century, examined everything heavenly that has been bequeathed to us in sacred books, and, after hard analysis, the learned ones of this world have absolutely nothing left of what was once holy. But they have examined parts and missed the whole, and their blindness is even worthy of wonder. Meanwhile, the whole stands before their eyes as immovably as ever, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (181)

Dostoevsky and Dr. Scott echo one another in a call to reverently remember what we ought as we look in waiting toward what has been accomplished at Golgotha.

- Meghan Ochoa


They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means ‘the place of the skull’). - Mark 15:22

They called that place

The Skull

And how true—-

Here love is stripped

Of all its softness, all

It’s warmth:

Skinned alive,

And reduced to

A grinning death’s head

Many people in times of crisis speak of how they were able to see things with crystal clarity: to understand a situation, to see a solution, to move unhesitatingly toward action. The death of Jesus gives us that clarity, too. We would never gild a crucifix or paint rosy cheeks on the dying Savior pictured there if we understood what that cross really meant. It meant that at least for a little while sin and death and Satan had won a victory.

Golgotha, after all, is not the curves and dimples of a face, it is the starkness of a skull.


Dr. Latayne C. Scott is an enthusiastic proponent of Christian Classical Education and taught various subjects in the School of Logic of a classical academy. The award-winning author of over 30 published books and thousands of shorter published works such as poems, she continues to write, publish, and serve as a spirituality coach and a writing coach.

- Photo credit to Melissa Lancaster for Dr. Scott's bio headshot


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