A student sat in front of me and shared that she was unable to believe in anything that she could not immediately perceive. “It’s obvious that your cup exists, but God is questionable. And I’m not sure that I can say that I’ve had an experience of God. Most experiences of God have some kind of rationale.” In other words, we live in a world where naturalistic explanations abound and overshadow belief in the transcendent.
Read more here: https://firebrandmag.com/articles/responsible-experience-following-the-spirit
The late Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple, tells a story of thieves who broke into a jewelry store and didn’t steal anything; they simply rearranged the price tags. The next morning, the expensive jewelry was sold as junk, a Rolex for a Timex. And the junk was sold as expensive jewelry. In the morning they watched with delight as people walked out with a Rolex for the price of a Timex. The point is clear: someone is constantly rearranging value. We rush to the cashier with the things that won’t stand the test of time—a sweater that will wear down after a season’s use. Meanwhile, the most beautiful life remains unsold, covered in dust on the back of the shelf.
Discipleship, or following Jesus, might be described as the enterprise of putting the price tags back in their rightful places. To follow is to have a particular set of desires that are worth pursuing at the expense of others; it’s to have a destination, a place of human flourishing, at the expense of other destinations. Can we learn to lay up treasures where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal?
The Gospel of John relays the time Jesus landed at this well in the heat of the day with a Samaritan woman, whom he had no business conversing with her. To paraphrase the conversation, Jesus tells her, “You’re looking for water in all the wrong places. No wonder you’re still thirsty.” We know that we’re thirsty. It’s hot and water is necessary to survive, but we’d rather have the soda with zero calories than the ice-cold water.
To be a human is to love, often incorrectly, or in the wrong order. The greatest commandment, to love God and love neighbor, sounds easy enough to many Christians. The task gets harder when we’re also asked to love money. Some days I also love being right. I love comfort at the expense of another’s oppression. I love manipulating people to get what I want. Many days I love those things more than God. Too often, my love of God is shaped by my love of power, instead of having my understanding of power become crucified by the love of God.
Saint Augustine calls this ‘disordered love.’ Here’s Augustine’s take on the matter:
But living a just and holy life requires one to be capable of an objective and impartial evaluation of things: to love things, that is to say, in the right order, so that you do not love what is not to be loved, or fail to love what is to be loved, or have a greater love for what should be loved less, or an equal love for things that should be loved less or more, or a lesser or greater love for things that should be loved equally. (On Christian Doctrine, I.27-28)
The heat broke down the sugar molecules of the onions and they sat in a pool of hot oil. The air was filled with a sweet aroma. Science makes life smell so good. My memories of the kitchen are idyllic—Norman Rockwell—mundane and beautiful. Tyson chicken strips and homemade marinara sauce. This is the place where mom and dad lingered over the last drop of coffee from the pot in the morning. We held hands and said, “God is great. God is good” and put dishes into the washer. We gathered at the counter for late night discussions, always about the high school teacher who should’ve been fired. Do you remember that time he let that girl bring her horse to school?
None of this can possibly be completely accurate. Memories are deceptive, after all. Our kitchen was also a broken place; there was a crack down the center of the table. Or, it was a square instead of a circle, with sharp edges. It was too small and short-sighted. It was a sphere thatexacerbated our culture’s hierarchies and power structures—a place where dads cook with fire, but not flour. Moms, meanwhile, are supposed to do everything else and also clean, while settling for a chicken wing and the occasional compliment, “this tastes better than last time.” Resentment and exhaustion were palpable in the kitchen as we all consumed the dead so that we could live another day
read more here: https://agapereview.com/2021/12/20/politicsofthetable/
I started taking pictures. Or am I making pictures? Does one take or make pictures? Some moments are so wonderful that they must be taken captive in a 4x6 rectangle, a few hundred pixels. We want to possess time, or at least a moment, but the best we can do is createI a keepsake, maybe, or a memento that the past really existed. That tantrum existed. I have evidence. By the way, so did the colic.
But it’s also true that pictures are made. Created. Photographers pay attention to things like composition and lighting and mood and create their own representation of reality. We all impress ourselves upon the object of our perception. There is no objective way of looking at a flower, for instance. You decide to look at it a certain way, from a certain angle, and create a representation of reality.
Photographers can bend moments to create the stories they want to tell. There is no one narrative that must be told—at any moment there are numerous stories available to be expressed. Take the classic snapshot of the coffee cup, bible open, with the gingham filter. No one would ever know that there is a toddler screaming about hot chocolate one seat over. Nonetheless, you’ve decided to make the moment tranquil, and exclude the bratty toddler, because you have a brand to maintain. Imagine a President who takes a picture with a Bible in front of St. John's Church, but outside the frame is a group of protestors who have been gassed to make the picture. A counterfeit strength overshadows the courage of those gathered with irritated eyes and constricted lungs.
From self-branding to propaganda, each snap is a story.