In a collection of short stories captured throughout the authors life, I CAN HEAR THE ANGELS LAUGHING is such a rare gem. The manuscript was hidden away in the garage found by the authors wife after his death. I absolutley fell in love with all of the stories and experiences the author shared with us. He took us through some major historical events and showed us grace under pressure.
This portion of the book really captured my heart: "Until we have loved when we had every reason to hate, until we have hoped when we had every reason to doubt, until we have pesisted when he had every right to quit, we cannot say that we have done our best (p. 71)". With the New Year quickly apporaching I feel inspired to find God in the details. To enbrace when I have every reason to doubt. I am not a very religous person, but I found myself thinking differently. I think this is a very moving book and I highly recommend it. I rate it 4.5 stars.
A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO HEAVEN
“You Can Hear the Angels Laughing: Finding God in the Details”
A timeless collection of reflections and meditations on how to live a God-centered life when times are hard
DALLAS (November 8, 2012) – “Never doubt that the fight for justice is a responsibility we all share.” As a nation going through tumultuous social and political times, this statement could have been lifted from today’s headlines – but it was actually penned more than 50 years ago by Dr. Madison Van Scott, a charismatic orator and minister who once captivated crowds across the country with his eloquent messages and deep baritone delivery.
Though Scott passed away in 2003, his intuitive wisdom and observations of human nature live on, transcending and even defying the passage of time, in the new book, “You Can Hear the Angels Laughing: Finding God in the Details” (December 2012).
In 2009, Scott’s widow, Ruth, was cleaning out the garage when she discovered a dusty, discolored manuscript hidden in a file cabinet. She handed it to her daughter, Dr. Sylvia Scott Gearing, and said, “You might want to read this sometime.”
“At the time, I had no idea about the treasure I held in my hands -- a gift my father had left for our family,” said Gearing, a nationally-recognized psychologist and author. “I read through the manuscript and was overwhelmed with its timeless messages. The lessons are for everyone, and the perspective calls our faith into action. I immediately knew it must be published.”
Gearing spent two years organizing and editing the book. Penned by Scott himself, the book provides snapshots of life, or “sacred moments,” as he called them. His engaging writing style draws readers in, providing fresh insight into many of life’s everyday events. Joyous to sad, humorous to poignant, yet always informative, Scott recounts his decades of work and guidance with parishioners and friends and the resulting life lessons that still resonate today.
The collection of stories also provides a glimpse into a unique time in American history from a man who lived it, including Scott’s work during the country’s Civil Rights movement. As the senior pastor of an Austin, Texas, church in the late 1950s and 1960s whose membership included the Texas governor and a U.S. senator, Scott was chosen to chair the committee to integrate Austin during the early 60s. He recalls it was a politically dangerous decision and worried the backlash from his congregation could be fierce, yet recognized that if all Southern Christian ministers did not stand up for racial integration, they would be betraying everything that Christianity stood for.
“These stories are the life lessons of a man who lived in some of the most controversial times in our nation’s history, contributed to major social changes and knew some of the world’s leaders who enacted that social change,” said Gearing. “This is the back-story of how he moved through such trying moments and a reminder of how many heroes it takes to change the world. My father is one of many who had the faith to do the right thing when he could have walked away.”
A theologian classically trained in Europe, Scott never let his scholastic or intellectual abilities interfere with his compassion for the everyday people he served.
“He dealt with everyone in the same way—from the janitor to the president,” said Gearing. “His sermons were renowned for their eloquent delivery–JFK was a big fan. Yet he never, ever lost sight of his own humility, compassion and kindness for others.”
Scott’s faith defined him. He was a man who loved deeply, having the same fears as others, yet always found ways to fight his way through the sadness of life–like losing his oldest daughter, Rebecca, in a tragic car accident–to rediscover God again and again.
“My father felt deeply and had his own challenges with such complete access to his emotions,” said Gearing. “He was such an accomplished minister because he had that emotional access. If you were going through tragedy, he was the guy to talk to. He would walk right along with you and share his enormous strength and faith when no one else would.”
“You Can Hear the Angels Laughing: Finding God in the Details” will be released in December 2012 and available for purchase at www.AngelsLaughing.com, on Amazon.com and through major eBook retailers.
About Dr. Madison Van Scott
Born in Nashville, Tennessee, Madison Van Scott was reared in an impoverished household. After his parents divorced when he was five years old, he was left on his own to roam the streets of Nashville. While his solitary childhood was traumatic at times, it also gave him a profound understanding of the suffering of others and engendered a lifelong commitment to serving the disenfranchised and less fortunate.
Blessed with a gift for language and speaking, he turned to the study of theology at Carson Newman College and excelled in leadership as president of his class. He was a champion debater and amazed audiences with his quick retorts and command of the topic. As a young man, he mastered the ancient languages (Greek, Latin and Hebrew) that would allow him to interpret the original ancient manuscripts of the Bible.
After graduating from Carson Newman College, Dr. Scott attended the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where he prepared to enter the ministry. In 1949, he sailed to Europe with his young wife, Ruth, to study theology in Basil, Switzerland. He taught himself German so he could fully understand the complex lectures of the world’s greatest theologians. At the University of Basil, he studied under the internationally renowned theologian and philosopher, Karl Barth, whom Pope Pius XII described as the most important theologian since Saint Thomas Aquinas. He was also a student in world famous philosopher Karl Jasper’s classes and seminars. Dr. Scott later transferred to the University of Edinburgh to complete his Ph.D. in theology.
Upon returning to the United States, he served for many decades as the senior minister in prominent churches across the South. His brilliant deliveries in the pulpit catapulted him into coveted positions at a young age. As a classically trained theologian, he delighted audiences with his dynamic sermons that drew upon Biblical scriptures, modern theological philosophy, and classical literature. He was a master storyteller and creative presenter. His sermons and speeches attracted thousands to his churches that grew enormously during his tenure.
During his career, Dr. Scott was a tireless advocate of social justice and Civil Rights. In the 1960s, he was the chairman of the committee to integrate Austin, the state’s capital and political fulcrum. Governor Price Daniel, Senator Ralph Yarborough, and President Johnson were ardent supporters of his ministry and speaking. He worked diligently with politicians, statesmen, and senators to advance the cause of the Civil Rights movement in the South. Dr. Scott felt that risking his career, his family’s safety, and even his own life were necessary sacrifices for a noble cause that was long overdue. From the pulpit, he insisted that the church should demonstrate the social conscience required for generating this revolutionary social change.
Sharing the podium with Presidents Kennedy and Johnson was one of the many honors he enjoyed in his esteemed career. He had many memories of both presidents and remained a lifelong advocate of their administrations. However, later in life, he was fond of noting that one of his greatest honors was to have worked with the unnamed soldiers of the Civil Rights movement. He held tremendous respect for the thousands of people who fought tirelessly for equality. He once said that all great change is championed first by individuals. Dr. Scott’s life and legacy are a tribute to this abiding value.
Dr. Scott passed away peacefully at home in 2003, with his beloved wife of fifty-eight years, Ruth, by his side.
About Dr. Sylvia Gearing
Nationally renowned psychologist and author, Sylvia Gearing, Ph.D. has been a pioneer in psychology for over twenty years. As an author and frequent media contributor, including NBC's Today Show and Dr. Phil, she also remains a popular speaker on women’s and girl’s issues, personal and professional excellence, and emotional intelligence.
In addition to her writing and media work, Dr. Gearing is the Executive Director of Gearing Up! Counseling Centers where she oversees a professional staff of ten counselors, along with her husband, Dr. Milton Gearing. The Gearings’ acclaimed counseling center addresses the mental health needs of thousands of North Texas adults, teens and children with the latest, most effective approaches in clinical psychology.
Dr. Gearing graduated Magna cum Laude in psychology from Duke University and completed her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. She studied at the prestigious Masterson Institute in New York City for several years where she worked with internationally renowned psychiatrist, James Masterson M.D. She is the author of “Female Executive Stress Syndrome: The Working Woman's Guide to a Balanced and Successful Life” (Summit, 1994) and “Woman-Sense Rules!” (Anderson Adams, 2003). Dr. Gearing is currently writing her third book, “Growing Girls Strong: A Mother Mentor’s Handbook”.
Married to Dr. Milton Gearing for over thirty years, she is the devoted mother of two grown sons. For more information please visit www.gearingup.com.