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Showing posts from 2008

The Gospel According to Mary

In my search for Mary, I tried to follow the dots which took me on side trips that explored the post-biblical data that later Roman Catholicism held. Locking her up as the “Mother of God” actually does grave disservice to her and reduces her only to the primary intercessor (mediator) of the Triumphant Church (Roman Catholicism distinguishes the Triumphant Church as those who are now in the presence of God [i.e., died] and the Militant Church as those still alive and engaged in this world); because of that we miss entirely what she contributes to our faith.

Mary contributes to our faith? Yes, and there is nothing Roman Catholic about it at all, so stop waving the “Catholic conspiracy” red flags in your head.

To help shed light on this, it has to be explained briefly how the Gospels were written. The obvious information we have is that of the four Gospels, two were written by eyewitnesses (Matthew and John) while two by researchers (Mark and Luke). It is generally accepted that Mark…

Landing Pattern

PENTAX K10D + SMCP A 35-70/4

"But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? (Matthew 6:30)

Depression is a friend.

Many regard depression as a disease, if not an outright attack from the evil enemy, and statements like my opening preamble can be seen as coming from a clinical case, or someone possessed or in the clutches of some evil whatever. Years coming and going has demonstrated to me that it is much easier to forget the presence of God in good times. There is euphoria in praising and thanksgiving as an initial response to a blessing but it is so easy to drift away relishing the good and not God (...or, in christianese: the gift not the giver...).

Bad times and bad moods forces me into this constant conversation (albeit grumpy and complaining) with Jesus. Not exactly the pleasant mood or attitude to be in while talking to God but--hey!--it is still talking to G…

Growing up Paranoid

Where do I begin? Well, I guess it starts all the way back when I was preoccupied with airplanes as a child (6-7-8 years old, somewhere there). That preoccupation would lead to hobbies and spin-off decisions like wishful notions of entering the aeronautical field in those early years. As a boy, I was not immune from “boy’s toys” and running around with toy guns, toy cars and—yes—toy airplanes; it was aviation that was the centerpiece. Guns were merely peripherals of warplanes (or accessories of the pilots) and cars were needed to drive to the imaginary airfield.

By the time I graduate college, I would possess encyclopedic knowledge of all the warplanes built up until career and calling would distract me in 1985 (for reference the United States was bickering over the cost overruns of the F/A-18 Hornet and Top Gun would be released the following year).

The era of aviation ‘adolescence’ was World War II. You might say that the birth pangs in the early 20th century led to the childho…


A much younger guy who is also a techie asked my opinion regarding the Mac (Apple Macintosh). He just got hired in this outfit that uses Macs and wanted to know my two cents regarding the good and bad about them. I generally have good comments about Macs having occasionally used them. So we looked at the pros and the cons and compared them with PCs and so on. Then the penultimate question: “If a Mac is that good, why don’t I have one?”

I replied that it was 1) expensive, 2) more expensive and 3) very expensive (the biggest con). Besides being a cheapskate, I was also a techie who changes motherboards as often as I would change socks, and the PC’s open architecture makes that easy. His final question was; “If that was not an issue—whether I can afford it or have access to it—would I use one?”

“Definitely!” was my quick enthusiastic reply. Then I paused. There was this nanosecond of silence, as my mind drifted into space groping for words. My young friend somehow intuited that …

Discovering Mary

My daughter Erika forced upon me a question that would set me on a journey in search of Mary. Studying theology has opened a window that allowed me to catch glimpses of who God is and how I can relate to him in those snapshots. Like looking at old family photos, God with various people (Abraham, Isaac, David, Solomon, Peter, Paul and John) show a unique relational dynamic that reflects a broad canvas of human experiences. And there seems to be a corresponding title to describe each like “father,” “friend,” “master” and “servant.”

As I pondered the presence of God incarnated in life as my daughter, a question begged to be asked, “Has anyone related to God as a child?” Not just any child, but your own. The Bible does not seem to help since I could not find any family photos of God with someone reflecting that kind of relationship, at least not in the box where I was looking. It was when I looked outside the box that I would find photos of Mary with her son. They were there all th…

The Economics of Attention

I picked up a book, The Economics of Attention by Richard Langham because its title and review grabbed my attention—so to speak. The book itself is a study of the historical development of style in communication and how that is used in media and advertising; the style and substance deal. Trends in art and the philosophical undercurrents behind it are surveyed and reviewed (more in the link above).

As a student of communication and social psychology, some appears to be obvious issues that have dominated many industries: banking for one—the use of efficient accountants over and against ‘pretty’ tellers, or the news media, which went through their own angst between using knowledgeable anchors to ‘talking heads.’ Which led me to consider this issue in the internet age and how; in particular, to modern Christianity where it is not too obvious.

Consider how you may have found this blog (assuming you searched for it). Was it even in the first page of the results page when Google retrieve…

An Exercise in Boredom

“Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)

How long does it take to form a habit—bad or otherwise? Most behavioral experts, according to Dr. Sangay Gupta (CNN Medical Correspondent) says that a minimum of three weeks is about to get you hooked into a new habit and a much longer time to undo it. Forty days is more than enough time to have formed a new one. And 40 days after the Resurrection, a period of what many of us in our present day see as an exciting, we find Jesus eating (verse 4) with his disciples and talking about the Kingdom of God. Except for the fact that Jesus was crucified, died and resurrected, there was nothing unusual or even new with this scene. Jesus has always been talking about the Kingdom of God and he has always been eating with his disciples. The disciples could have actually been bored by this routine, they have been heari…

Growing Up LIberal II: The Swing Right

(My counterpoint to Philip Yancey’s “Growing Up Fundamentalist” - Part II)

As I thought about it, my upbringing in a Liberal Church taught me to be open, accepting and gracious, but left me lonely, empty and directionless.  That led me to an ecclesiastical adventure through the various shades of Christianity; from the fundamentalist to the radical and from the charismatic to the meditative.  Then over a decade later, I am asking myself again “what was I looking for?”

I remembered where I would be affirming (“you’re okay!”) but never got the same response.  So I ran back to what I thought was my safe place—my Liberal church.  But then an opposite twist to the conversation began to emerge:

“As Christians we should be open, accepting and gracious to other people, religions and ideologies.”

“We should be willing to be open and learn from ________________
(insert other religion or ideology).”
“Of course!”

“We SHOULD BE LIKE them and ___________________
(insert discipline of other religion or…

Growing Up Liberal

(My counterpoint to Philip Yancey’s “Growing Up Fundamentalist”)

One of my favorite hymns in my childhood is “One God” which was written by Barbra Streisand but was “hymnified” somewhere along the way.  It was a pleasantly scored music that stirred up the emotions as well as fed my mind.  There was this ambiguity to it that opened my mind to asking questions.   Key lyrics included “many a paths winding their way to one God” and “…men calling to him by many different names,” which in the immediate context of Ellinwood Malate Church seem to refer to the greater Christian community beyond our denomination (Presbyterian) represented.  However, an occasional interfaith event takes place and I begin to wonder if that ambiguity applies to the Buddhist, Hindu or Moslem names of their deities.  Of course, as I would find out later, Barbra Streisand is Jewish.

There were running debates among the knowledgeable; I had a cousin who thought that way and believed that all of humanity was ultimately s…

Salt & Light


So I finally started a blog. Some of the stuff here are old stuff that has been sitting since the beginning of my forays into the wild wild world of the net back in 1998. Back then the only thing my website contained were the Centennial fireworks photos. Because of the nuance of where I have been and what I am doing what better title for this blog than "Salt & Light"? It is a fitting metaphor for my blurbs and thoughts that combine both faith and photography. And's Biblical too :-)

Salt represents faith

Faith is an intangible and can be, as it is usually, reduced to an abstract concept. It does not have to be that way--like salt it should:

Stimulate the taste buds. It should excite and help an otherwise unsavory dish slide down easier.Sting the open sores. Whether they are cold sores in your mouth or cuts that stings in salt water.Stop decay. Act as a preservative as sprin…

I Thought ... (1978)

A counterpoint to René Descartes' "I think therefore I am" (a 30th year retrospective)
Before Photoshop and other digital photo manipulation, stuff had to be either done in the camera itself or in the darkroom. Here's to having fun with virtual reality circa 1978. Using the old double exposure technique of holding back the rewind crank, pressing the rewind button while winding the film at the same time allows you to keep the film in place for another shot (unless you're a Nikon user; you have a switch to make life easy...). Masking half the photo with cardboard then taking alternately the scene with or without the car (my dad's 1975 Ford Cortina...) on the second and fourth frame where it seems to mysteriously disappear and reappear. The tree is there to diffuse any imperfection in the masking (which shows in the fourth frame where the masking was not too perfect).

Taken with a Canon AE-1 + Canon FD 50/1.8 + Kodacolor 400

Minolta SRT-101

I learned photography with this:

Minolta SRT-101 with an MC Rokkor PF 58/1.4

I learned photography with this camera when my dad allowed me to peek into its viewfinder when I was around six or seven years old. Eventually he would allow me to shoot with it with a workflow that included: match the needle-focus-shoot. For a skinny seven or so year old kid, that thing weighed a ton but I learned to appreciate it despite the heft.

Judging from the photographic records, my dad was a gadget guy who collected tech toys of that era (1960s) which included open reel tape decks and cameras. Even before I was born, there were plenty of photographs documenting our family life including my entry into this world in 1960. My first encounter with a camera actually came in much earlier when I was three years old when my dad brought home a brand new Petri 7s in 1963. The Petri 7s was introduced into the market that same year which hinted at my dad’s liking for things top of the line and brand new. Wha…

Canon Datematic

My introduction to Canon began with the Datematic (ca. 1973) which my dad bought because he thought the SRT-101 was too heavy to lug around. What happened instead was I co-opted it for myself, taking it with me to school (I was in high school by now). My own Olympus PEN-EE sort of died because of the use or misuse a tween kid threw at it (or it felt like a kid threw it…something I would regret now that I discovered eBay). Digressing, I never remembered what I used the Olympus for except for some really interesting landscapes in Japan and during field trips during my latter days in grade school. The stuff I took would probably make Lomographers of today, really proud and stand at attention. Alas, I did not bother to keep any of them…who would have known that a generation later those photos would be an art form.

Anyway, that died, so I ended up with the Canon rangefinder. My dad did not really have a choice, because what I was really interested in was the Pentax Spotmatic kit lurk…

Pentax Spotmatic


I first got my hands on the Pentax Spotmatic (SP) about the time I was in fifth grade (ca. 1971 or so) when my dad allowed me to walk around with it in a Boy Scout camp. My first impression about it was that it was sleeker and slimmer than the Minolta SRT-101. I do not recall when my dad actually got it but it was lurking in his closet for some time. He must have acquired it later than the Minolta although I would learn later that it actually predates that by a year (1964; the SRT-101 came out 1965).

What I would discover with the Pentax was depth of field (DOF) because of the way it meters; it had the original stop-down metering that closed down the aperture whenever you turned on the light meter. That was something I never saw with the Minolta which metered wide open (although I would later learn that the SRT-101 had a DOF preview button—but in 1971 that was taken for granted). I read the manuals so I theoretically knew about DOF an…