I realize that starting off the week with a “thought provoking” post may not be the best idea for any writer but when the muse awakens, I go with the flow.
Lighthouse – Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 17mm, f/16 for 1/15th of a second at ISO 100 with a Singh-Ray warming polarizer filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3.
Click on the image above for a larger version.
As most of you know from following my ramblings for the past few years, I am a Christian with a strong but subtle faith in our Lord and Savior. I am not an “Evangelical Christian” in the truest sense but I do not hide my beliefs from anyone interested enough to read my blog and enjoy my photography. While I don’t apologize to anyone for sharing my faith through my art and craft, I do understand that for some, the words that accompany my images may make them uncomfortable, especially if they’re own beliefs differ greatly. If you are one of those people I offer this olive branch in the spirit of Christ, who taught us that all things are possible.
Cognitive dissonance is the ability of the human mind to hold in it, two opposing concepts at the same time. I believe that this innate ability is what sets us apart from (most) other species on our planet. We can firmly believe in an omnipotent God that created the heavens and earth, while also believing in the “Big Bang” theory. We can firmly believe in the writings of the Bible as “Gospel”, while also believing in the theory of evolution. We can firmly believe in the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth, while also accepting that millions believe the truths in Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and even Atheism. We can firmly believe in the concepts of “Divine Providence” and at the same time, “Free Will”.
In fact, if your faith is securely grounded, you can believe that in God, all things you can imagine and those things you cannot yet imagine, are truly possible and perhaps even probable. Once you come to this understanding and belief, many of the most divisive issues facing our world today seem both trivial and downright silly. If we live in a universe of infinite possibilities created and directed by an all powerful and all loving God, don’t the differences between one’s skin color, political leanings and religious beliefs seem trivial compared to the incredible similarities of our shared existence?
Do we not all breathe the same air, walk upon the same ground and live according to the same laws of physics? Does not the sun rise in the mornings and set in the evenings where you live? Does gravity work differently in your part of the world than mine? Do you not sleep, eat and work as I do? Do you not grow older each day? Do you not cherish your children just as I do mine? Are we not made from the same flesh and blood? Does it really matter that others believe differently than you do? Is there not room in an infinite universe for all beliefs to exist?
My friends, there are forces in our world that yearn for conflict, whether for personal gain or from a sense of insecurity. They use fear, greed and envy to exploit our incredible diversity and make us feel less connected to each other than we truly are. They thrive on chaos and encourage hate instead of love. In the darkness they strive to weaken our resolve, undermine our courage and lead us to despair. We read about this almost every day in our morning newspapers and witness it in increasingly gory detail on the evening news. We watch and grow uneasy but never quite understanding how things have gotten so far out of hand. We begin to feel closed off, disconnected and alone. And we despair.
In this season of renewal and rebirth I want you to understand, my friends, that there is always hope! We are not alone, disconnected and apart from one another. We are each of us, a unique individual with unique qualities, gifts and skills. But we are also part of a much greater whole. Each of us carries within himself the ability to look beyond the darkness with courage, empathy and love. In the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he frames this concept so much better than I ever could, so I leave you with this to ponder as we Christians prepare to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”