This article is easily controversial and many people will have different kinds of problems with it. WARNING: It is not dinner table conversation!
Nevertheless, what I find especially resolving is that this mainstream look at how our brains respond when experiencing God seems to suggest that it doesn’t matter what “belief system” we subscribe to; The neural or stimulative effect is the same. This is an excellent validation that organized religion has little to do with how we are wired to experience our Creator. This would also help explain why prayer is a common form of connection across every major religion.
This Is Your Brain on God – Seeker
Religious experiences activate the brain reward circuits triggered by love, sex, gambling, drugs and music. BY TRACY STAEDTER. 0. Jeffrey Anderson / University of Utah. This Is Your Brain on God – Seeker
Without light, there is no way to literally see beauty and there is certainly no need for photographs or photography. Light represents the fullness of all colors, visible and invisible, in the spectrum. So, why is this important? Because the “Voice of the World” wants you to believe that certain colors are more “beautiful” than others. Moreover, advertisers use our natural response to colors to shape the way we think about them so they can promote a product, service, perception, opinion, or bias.
For example, the color red is considered one of the most intense. So if an advertiser wants to assign a feeling of intensity to a statement or product they are promoting, they will likely use the color red in the ad. Seems somewhat innocent, except it isn’t. It is a blatant manipulation of our subconscious. We are not going to stop advertisers from being maliciously creative. However, we can minimize their influence when we are aware of how they are operate.
Such is the case with advertisers who are hard at work convincing beautiful West African women that their natural color is not “good enough” or that they really want to look like someone else. In addition to the health concerns caused by this worrisome movement, culture and individual self-esteem are also at stake. In summary, this is nothing less than an industrial hijacking of people’s God-given identity.
What Is the Color of Beauty?
With some estimates putting the number of women in West Africa using lightening cream at 70 percent in some places, officials say they are worried there could be a sharp uptick in skin cancer because these products attack the skin’s natural protective What Is the Color of Beauty?
Whatever belief system you subscribe to, I think most of us can agree that civilization is becoming increasingly self-destructive. I suppose we may have been more barbaric in the distant past (and that may be debatable). Yet, has man’s creation of increasingly complex systems including government, finance & economics, health & medicine, organized religion, education, agriculture, commerce, technology, science, communications, media, and transportation, promoted progress for the human race? Is progress leaving anyone behind? Are we eradicating sickness and poverty; improving the quality, beauty, and integrity of life; preserving our environment and resources, or increasing peace, tolerance, respect, love, compassion, service, and faith around the world? These are all very important questions to ask ourselves. Right here and now.
Imbalances Often Signal Something Is Not Quite Right
Who has benefited and at what cost? This is the first question. The resource-rich United States is split in half politically with each side believing their respective needs and wants are not being met. The result is that no one seems to be content and the frustration and hate index is going through the roof.
We should ask, “Are the systems to blame? Do they consider the totality of the population or just a chosen few? Are they creating catastrophic imbalances that grow division?” Another example, the US is the greatest consumer of the world’s resources. It represents 18% of the world’s energy consumption* and only 4.5% of the world’s population. How can we think for a moment that such imbalances will not have intentional and unintentional side effects. Just to be clear, the United States is not the only producer of “imbalances.” Imbalances exist throughout the entire developed and underdeveloped world unfortunately. It’s a simple problem of cause and effect.
Manmade Systems Are Just That, Manmade; Not God-Made
We are not advancing as a civilization. Progress has not only stalled. It is going in the opposite direction. We need to look deeply and honestly into the design and consequences of the systems we are designing and managing.
In education, for example, we do not teach our children how to learn. Educational institutions have replaced those more natural abilities with tools and techniques that encourage memorization of facts and accumulation of information; Not knowledge. Furthermore, children are classified instead of individually nurtured due to the demands placed on these institutions to produce “results.” Progress is rewarded at the sacrifice of process. Moreover, test results and grades define potential instead of passion and conviction. Unfortunately, no training to seek or discern the truth. Rather, programming in nearly every course that teach our children to debate and promote a perspective or point. What some of us would call “lawyering.”
The more we learn, the more we may earn, and the less we will grow, because the less we will ever want to know.
The subject of manmade systems is is a fairly complex discussion and will invite much debate. However, it is central to how we live together in this world while seeking purpose, peace and passion. It will be a theme that will certainly present itself often on this platform because it is both a catalyst and disruptor to the different definitions of progress. Progress as humans. But more importantly, progress as a creation. An amazing creation with amazing potential to attain true joy on this earth.
Cynical, But Hopeful
In closing (for now), Please do not see me as cynical. I truly apologize if I disturbed the balance of your day at all. However, I am willing to disturb your day if it has the potential to enhance your life. Man has extraordinary talents, gifts, characteristics, and blessings that have been created for good. But… WARNING: When man relies fully and only on himself to pursue good, without God, it seems he too often ends up with not so good and not at all God.
You can separate Church and State but you will always lose if you try to separate God from His creation. God created man and everything else and while the world tries so hard to separate from God, God is still the Creator and the Star of the show. Don’t take my word for it. See what the most famous scientists in history believe at 25 Famous Scientists On God. Ok – What do scientists know. So, consult the works of the founding fathers of this country and the principals this country was founded on (but has strayed from). Alright. Politicians have mixed agendas. I got that. Let’s look at the perfection built into the construction of the universe. Coincidence? Have you ever watched a baby being born? A hearing-disabled person write a symphony? Someone heal from a disease beyond the comprehension of the foremost healthcare professionals? The sunset? The sunrise?
How about a perspective most of us will never experience – from space. John Glenn looked at this little blue dot from space and said “To look out at this kind of creation and not believe in God is to me impossible.”
Atheists Bully Small Town to Remove God Bless America Flag, What Happens Next… twitchy.com
So often we are the central subject of our photographic memories when we travel or set out for new experiences. Pictures of us in front of landmarks and scenery; on the beach or in the pool, group photos at the dining table. Oh – and all those selfies.
I believe those photos really miss the opportunity to capture the inspiration we felt that very moment we experienced the miracle or miracles we were encountering. For example, a picture of a couple taken in front of a setting sun can be timeless, for sure. But what that couple experienced individually, and together, when they set their sights on the blazing beauty of God’s handiwork, is almost completely lost.
Photographer, Tom Robinson took on a very interesting project where he began to document his family’s travels by taking pictures from their “vantage point” and only showing their feet which personalizes the photo. I find the results quite amazing and can see how looking at these photos 10 years from now can bring them right back to those special moments.
Feet First: Photographer documents his family’s travels by showing only their feet | Creative Boom
While sitting on a Brighton beach in 2005 with his new girlfriend Verity, photographer Tom Robinson thought the view of their feet pointing out to sea would make a nice photo. Since then, he’s continued to document their travels around the world in this way, resulting in a growing collection of over a hundred images. read more at creativeboom.com
Adversity is a Season with a Reason. Adversity shapes us. Molds our character. Makes us dependent and human. Most importantly, adversity brings us closer to our Creator which provides us with supernatural potential to overcome anything. Never forget as you go through seasons of adversity, that with God, all things are possible and your current trials have a blessed place and purpose in your life.
Cities are such marvelous expressions of man’s ability to create. God gives us amazing gifts of engineering, craftsmanship, design, and vision. Above the enormous complexity of any city however, is its personality which comes to life when you add people and culture to the architecture.
People always ask, “where is the best place you have ever traveled?” My typical response is “Everywhere!” That said, I do have different take-aways from each city and can often understand why a certain city might have earned a certain identity like “the city of love.” Actually, there are many cities that claim to be that title; Rome, Italy being one of them. Romance is truly in the Roman air. However, I am starting to think that every city I have visited is a city of love. So much more of my travel these days is focused on people and culture and less so on aesthetics and landmarks. So, when you travel with a passion to connect with people, you cannot help but find love. It just happens.
A little hint: People absolutely love sharing their culture. I remember a few years back when my wife and I hosted two young students from China for a few weeks at our house. Of course they wanted to see the typical landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, but the experience that will stay with them (and us) forever was the experience of getting to know one another and sharing.
What were you doing when you were 25 years old? Well, I was making waves and not really observing them. However, when I got a chance to go to the ocean’s edge, I can remember the crashing sounds yielded by each wave’s immense force. Yet, I was missing the visual brilliance each wave displays as it’s individual fingerprint on the world. The shape; the spectrum of color; the reflections and diffraction of light. When we absorb photographs of these ocean phenomena, we can see the power that resides in God’s pinky finger. How awesome are waves…
Photographer Shoots the Beauty and Beast Natures of Ocean Waves
“Chris Dixon is a 25-year-old photographer based in Sydney, Australia. When he’s not photographing weddings, he’s often standing in shallow ocean water and shooting fine art photos of waves breaking on the coastline. When waves break onto the near-dry reef, he tries to capture their beauty and form through close-up compositions.” read more at petapixel.com
The power of photography extends far past simply being an extraordinary visual art. For nearly all of us, it provides the only access to the glory or horror of the many concurrent world events we would otherwise have no way to witness. I believe that more than words or film, photos can freeze a particular moment, impress it into our present conscience, and move us emotionally as no other stimuli can. The use of photography during the Civil Rights Era, the Holocaust, the many wars (too many), and the landing of the first man on the moon are just a very few examples of this medium’s power and potential.
We enhance our connection and dependence on God when we broaden our awareness and experience of world cultures and events. God’s concern is for His entire creation. Not just a portion or limited to our specific domain. Sharing interest and concern for the world grows us closer to God. Photos also speak directly to our hearts. We don’t need a biased reporter or background narrative to tell us what we see with our eyes and with our hearts. When we seek truth in what we are observing, God will speak truth to us.
This article gives one artist’s perspective; and a valuable one. However, I do not see this topic as having perspectives per se’. Few would argue that the process of “taking pictures” has become routine (even for many professionals) and leads to little satisfaction for all of us just snap, snap, snapping away. This is yet another reason why photographingGOD exists. We want to restore the value of an image; Even one taken with a phone device. Restoring value in imagery however, starts with restoring value in all of creation (mankind, nature, talent & gifts, miracles, etc.) before it gets captured in the camera. A Picture-Taker becomes a Photographer when he or she has connected with the phenomenon that they capture. This connection becomes contagious as others see what the photographer saw and then add their own personal significance. And that’s Amore!
A Picture-Taker becomes a Photographer when he or she has connected with the phenomenon that they capture.
We believe that every image, regardless of the professional quality, fundamentally captures Light (ironically the same function as the human eye itself). And Light reveals colors, patterns, textures, contrasts, miracles, wonders, and Life! So much to marvel at. When a picture-taker becomes a photographer the result is a deeper appreciation and connection with the subject and with God, the Creator of all things.
What makes a photographer when everyone is taking pictures – pbs.org
“When photographer Ken Van Sickle was 23 and living in Paris, he could barely afford rolls of film. One night, hearing that jazz great Chet Baker was playing, he went and took only two pictures, and one was blurry. So what’s happened to photography now that everyone has the technology to take as many pictures as they like? Van Sickle offers his Brief But Spectacular take.” read more at pbs.org
I know. Easier said than done. But how true and profound. Why are we so preoccupied with getting to the destination and so little attention is given to the journey.
From when we are young, we are hammered to get good grades so we can go to a good college. We are convinced we need to do well in college so we can get a good job. We strive to do well at our job so we can climb the ladder. We get to the top of the ladder so we can acquire and do lots of things. We acquire and do lots of things so we can acquire and do more things than our friends and then retire. And when we retire, we begin the process of trying to figure our where our life went and what was it that we really wanted to do.
Don’t rush to catch a train and miss God’s plan for your life.
The only fame worth pursuing is that which you gain for sharing God. It is a fame that makes you effective and gain the attention of others, but leaves you in God’s shadow so that He gets all the glory.
God is like truth because God is truth. Similarly, God is truth because God is like truth.
Unpack That Time! Ok – The sun hides behind a cloud for a time and yes, it is still there. It also steers to the other side of our planet for a time and yes, it is still shining somewhere. So we can conclude that the sun may not be in our presence, but that does not deny its existence. (You could still argue that even while the sun is not in our presence we benefit from its effect like energy, heat, etc.). Similarly, truth can and will get distorted, stretched, changed by opinion or perception, maligned, and even hidden or forgotten. Nevertheless, “the truth” will always be the truth which we can define as “the truth before man gets to it.”
So we could say that God is very much like the truth because even though God may not seem present at times or is denied by some, the evidence of His existence is overwhelming. Even as man attempts to distort the existence, presence, and nature of God (and successfully I might add), none of this changes the fact that God exists.
Even an atheist has to accept some form of acknowledgment of God’s existence as they authenticate their view and ultimately deny God’s existence. For example, before the phenomenon of flight, you would be among the populous if you believed that man could not fly and that the whole notion was preposterous. However, in order to discover the ability to fly, you had to first explore its possibility thereby, bringing you to a place, however temporary, where you believed it was possible. You cannot be a “true” atheist unless you have at least considered the possibility that God exists. We do not spend much time wondering if a ham and cheese sandwich could talk. One thing is for sure however, if we choose to completely deny the possibility, rest assure, we will never find out. We can only attempt to disprove it, without bias, if we first consider its possibility. That’s just the way the universe works. God doesn’t conceal or limit possibility. On man does that.
Now on to the point. Absolute truth is absolute and doesn’t change regardless of what man attempts to do to change it. Likewise, God has not, does not, and will not change no matter what the world attempts to do to eliminate or change the truth about God. God and truth share so much that the occasional interchangeability is effective.
So here we are at the end of the year. Not just any year. The first New Year for photographingGOD. Though hardly a full new year. We launched on Saturday morning, September 5 at around 8am Eastern Standard Time. We had no agenda. No plan. Not even a vision. But we had God who has led this amazing journey from the beginning. And then we had (and hopefully have) You! God breathed it. We built it. But you came and supported it with your amazing engagement and interest. Over 40 million people from 91 countries of all races, creeds, colors, and faith’s coming together to seek and celebrate the absolutes in this life. Particularly those we can share and agree upon. The common ground. Like the greatness of God, the creator of all things. Sure – there are many differences and debates we can challenge ourselves and each other on this matter. But the truth is that we have more in common than in difference. And yet, diversity is a spice of life (God-given I might add) and should be celebrated. In fact, differences were probably part of His grand design because it keeps us seeking truth and seeking Him. What better way to have our undivided attention! Still, there is what goes on within us. Our own personal journeys. We, at photographingGOD, respect this and always will.
“Most often we didn’t choose our best friends as much as we were thrown together with them in “accidents” of Providence.” -from Auld Lang Syne| Desiring God
The timeless song, Auld Lang Syne is about old friends and the beauty of such relationships – How God has His hand in such encounters. I hope that we too become old friends. photographingGOD may never become everything to everybody – But our prayer is that it becomes something to most. Blessings this New Year. Thank you from the bottom, and the top, of our hearts and everything in between. God Bless…
Auld Lang Syne | Desiring God
“What makes “Auld Lang Syne” so powerful? It has nothing to do with a New Year and everything to do with an old friend.
Old friendship is that sort of treasure. Few gifts in life are as precious as companions with whom we once spent long summer days and talked long into the night; with whom we shared thrilling adventures and disastrous mishaps; with whom we bent over in convulsive laughter and sat silently in tearful loss; in whom we confided the hopes and fears of our youthful years.
Most often we didn’t choose our best friends as much as we were thrown together with them in “accidents” of Providence. Frequently, they happened to move in next door or up the street or in our tenement or began attending our church or had the locker or workstation next to us.” read more at desiringgod.org
Photographs have power. Creative photography allows us to see the world in new ways, to drop preconceptions, and to find focus in a busy, chaotic world. For some, photography is an art; for others, a job or a hobby. But there’s another, rapidly expanding avenue for camera work – photography as therapy.
“Photography is a tool for meditation, mindfulness and creative living. Now the emerging field of phototherapy embraces the power of making and viewing photographs for healing and personal transformation. Why are photographs so powerful?” read more at bestthinking.com
Of course, we agree that photographs have therapeutic power. Moreover, the article states that “the camera is an instrument that teaches people to see without a camera.” This is the real opportunity and essentially, at the core of what photographingGOD’s uniqueness and approach. Through the use of imagery, we believe that we can restore an appreciation for all of creation and the Creator – God. As we reconnect the universe (and everything in it) with our eyes; and our eyes with our hearts; we begin a process of connecting our lives (and our purpose) with the Source of all these elements and gain a new appreciation for everything.
Children are one of the many connections that give us a view to the glory of heaven. The beauty and purity of their nature before the world takes hold of them is a near perfect reflection of heaven’s soil.
God gave us a brilliant mind to think for ourselves and not simply follow a system by default. But that requires time, effort, and most of all, God’s wisdom. Thinking, discovering, and creating are the three worst things to outsource, and doing so is a fatal mistake.
“The Aurora Borealis , or Northern Lights, is one of nature’s most spectacular light displays. Ever changing, they will intrigue anyone who is lucky to catch them night after night.
At no other time of year can we drive through city and country alike and feel the warmth that lights add to our lives. No matter how awesome our light displays are though, nothing can compare with one of the most amazing shows nature has to offer; the Aurora Borealis, or more commonly referred to as the Northern Lights. It is literally a shifting waterfall of colors ranging from green to pink to white and everything in between. read more at grit.com“
This is a phenomenon not to be missed in a lifetime if possible. Most of us will not get to the poles of the earth. However, recent changes in climate and solar patterns have been extending the effect of the Northern Lights where nearly half the earth’s population can get a glimpse (God’s way of moving the stage closer to your seat!). There is a great website hosted by Space Weather where you can go to receive alerts and other information about these events. Hopefully you can catch God’s next show! Blessings…
While so many in the world seek out reasons to divide, hate and war against one another, a group of brave people, from different faiths, yet with similar hearts, are seeking to coexist. Not only peacefully, but cooperatively.
“A mosque, a church and a synagogue go up on the site of an old Jewish country club.
It sounds like the setup to a joke — but it’s not. It’s actually happening in Omaha, Neb. The Tri-Faith Initiative may be the first place in history where these three monotheistic faiths have built together, on purpose, with the intention of working together.
“This is something God wanted us to do a long time ago, and we were completely blinded by doing other things,” says Aryeh Azriel, the rabbi at Temple Israel.”
This story is a testament to the absolute fact that God is sovereign and loves all of His creation. Not just some of us.
We, at photographingGOD, prefer the sound of “All Are Welcome Here” over “Some Are Welcome Here.” And on this day celebrated as the birth of Jesus in the Christian world, I suspect He too would have said, “All Are Welcome Here.”
There isn’t a single phase of this process that just doesn’t drop your jaw to the floor. I can remember all four of my miracles and while all were very different journeys, all equally amazing. From the moment you learn you will be a mother or father; To the preparation for the new arrival; Then comes the day God sends this little spirit down to earth and into your arms… And finally, the blessing of family. “This is the miracle of life!”
Beauty is in the eyes of the Creator; Not the beholder. All the contest participants were winners Sunday night. In fact, we all win when we celebrate beauty through God’s eyes. Steve Harvey didn’t get it wrong. He just didn’t get it at all. It’s not his fault however. I actually adore Steve.
“The host of the Miss Universe pageant, Steve Harvey, made a huge blunder by naming the wrong winner on Sunday night.
Of course, one might wonder if maybe that was the point. Cameras panned to reveal genuine looks of confusion and horror on both women’s faces as they realized what had happened, and what would happen still: One would be forced to give up the title she’d been given and the other would be forced to take it from her. Some members of the audience began to boo — in support of Miss Colombia or in reaction to Harvey’s blunder, or both”. read more at cnn.com
There is nothing wrong with being fascinated by beauty or even showcasing it. It is what God created. However, the consequences for haphazardly elevating some while subordinating others leads to a loss of the true definition of beauty itself. Beauty pageants should, and can be celebrations. Celebrations of cultures, celebrations of youth, celebrations of physical and spiritual diversity, etc. They shouldn’t be thrones with crowns. Not only pitting one individual against another, but even country against country at times. If anything was revealed by Mr. Harvey’s little faux pax Sunday evening, it should be that we are not very good at assigning beauty. Even with a sophisticated voting system. Beauty has already been assigned by it’s Creator – God.
David Leaser is using new technology and special techniques to capture God’s amazing handiwork embedded in all of nature. His images draw us closer to the detail and color we often miss for many reasons. Without a doubt, with the right intent, innovation and technology can enhance our appreciation for God’s creation.
It’s one thing to use a macro lens on a camera to capture the smallest details of flora and fauna.
Then there’s what David Leaser does, which is less like photography than it is like an MRI image. It’s called focus stacking and involves an array of photographic equipment that far exceeds the usual single-lens reflex camera equipped with a macro lens.
“I wanted to elevate these little tiny flowers into significance, give people a different perspective,” he said.”
And that he does. He also seeks to “have his works lower viewers’ blood pressure and cause them to smile.” I believe that this is exactly why God created such natural beauty on this earth. I pray we all seek ways to draw closer to God’s creation. The result – We draw closer to God.
Unfortunately, overused and under-appreciated. One way we can share God is to share Him by name in the form of a blessing. Nearly every culture, language, and faith holds such a prayer in the highest regard. But somehow, we have reduced this glorious expression of love to a reflex in response to a sneeze. I pray we all share God every day through this expression, even if someone doesn’t sneeze.
I have to believe that typing shortcuts into a device or simply dictating a message loses so much of the potential to communicate. Three aspects of communication are under attack by technology.
The first aspect is time. Time allows us to fully contemplate and complete our thoughts increasing the probability that our audience will understand what we are trying to communicate. Technology is an enemy of time because the more time something takes, the less effective the technology.
The second aspect is scope. In a world where we are increasingly shortening our messaging with technology (emails to instant messages to emojis, and beyond), we are sacrificing the spices of communication which include depth, detail, and emotion. A smiley face cannot fully articulate happiness.
Lastly, and possibly the most painful, is the loss of personalization. Technology, and the overuse of devices, have all but eliminated the personal nature of a handwritten note and the need for face-to-face engagement. We desperately need to preserve forms of traditional communication in order to stay “human.” It’s as if we are losing our thumbs!
The Founding Fathers of the United States knew this much. They didn’t imprint the currency of the new democracy with “In Government We Trust” or “In Gold We Trust.” They knew that the value and security of the republic’s entire economy could only be safe and preserved in the hands of God. Unfortunately, over this country’s relatively short history, the rich and powerful have managed to shift the trust in our economy into their own hands and we are living the consequences.
Disparity in opportunity
Wage inequities and imbalances
Lack of investment in education, training, and infrastructure
Access and costs relating to small business and personal financing
Taxation (without representation) at multiple levels
Neglect and deterioration of retirement systems and solutions
Inflated costs for basic needs
Lack of transparency and fairness in banking and Wall Street
Cost of war
Commingling of politics and finance (i.e., pay For play, lobbying, etc.)
Money should never have a relationship to power. Money is a proxy instrument for the purposes of barter. It was intended to be an efficient means of exchanging goods and services with one another. Not something that is gathered and coveted to gain control over a society. This is a weakness of man which is why it is in God we should trust and in nothing or no one else.