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Faith and Photography

Dr Alex Tang

 

Seeing God in all things

 

I have taken up a new hobby, photography. I have been taking photos as long as I can remember. First with cameras that needed film (you know, film, negatives, darkroom) and later with digital cameras. I just need a camera that I can point and shoot. I think I have a natural flare for composition but hopeless with focusing. That is why I always tell my wife and children that I need an idiot proof camera- the idiot being me!


 

I have been writing and making word pictures. I practice and teach others, lectio divina which is spiritual reading. Lectio divina is letting the text speaks to us instead of us analyzing the text. Then it occurs to me; why not let what I see speaks to me. No, I am not in Gaia theory like what the movie Avatar by James Cameron espouse. I believe that God created this world; and this creation is His other book. I think theologians call this General Revelation. The Bible is His special revelation. If this is general revelation, this means I can see the hand of the Creator in his creation. Hence I need to see. Normally I look but do not see. I want to see God in all things. Hence photography. Photography, as I have discovered, is a specific way of seeing. It may be used as a special way of spiritual viewing. I call this lectio visi or spiritual viewing. This specific way of seeing via photography is a spiritual discipline. A spiritual discipline is a habit that draws us closer to God. I always resonate with the Psalmist when he sings “Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together with joy” (Ps. 98:7-8).


 

I bought a dSLR camera a month ago. It is hard work as I forsake my autofocus and take on the work of creating photographs that reflect my Lord. As a well written article or book is a joy, so is a well taken photograph that captures the essence of a person or a landscape. I have also created a website, Random Photos from a a Doctor's Chair which I collaborate with my son-in-law who is a much better photographer than I will ever be. So if you see me coming with my camera, smile and let me capture the joy of the Lord in you.


 

 
Soli Deo Gloria

 

27 July 2014

 

 


 

More photographs may be viewed in the website above Random Photos from a Doctor's Chair <www.alextang.photography>

 

Eyes of the Heart

Photography is a deeply contemplative practice. If we approach it with reverence and intention, it can help us to see the holy moments all around us. In the process of slowing down and lingering over moments of beauty, you will cultivate sacred seeing, your ability to see the world beneath the surface appearance of things.

Photography is essentially about the play of light and dark, illumination and shadow, much as the spiritual journey is a practice of paying attention to these elements of our lives and how the holy is revealed in each. Photography is also about the choices we make in the visual framing of elements, what to include and what to exclude, whether to zoom or pull back. This is a practice of visual discernment: a way of choosing what is important and what needs to be let go of. We begin to see things differently, and in our images also discover aspects of ourselves and God. In our discussions we will explore how to distill wisdom from the images we receive.

This practice is not about developing your technical proficiency as a photographer – it is about cultivating your ability to see with the “eyes of the heart” (Eph 1:18). In biblical and mystical traditions, the heart is the seat of our whole being. To see with the heart, means we bring the whole of ourselves to whatever reality we find ourselves in. We will explore photography in service of expanding our contemplative practice and compassionate presence to the world and to ourselves.


— Christine Valters Paintner from Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice

 

The Power of the Present Moment

Some people live in an world of nostalgia: ‘things were much better back then.’ And others focus on what they perceive was wrongs done to them. They hang on to resentment for years. Holding a grudge takes energy. With attention or energy locked up in the past you don’t have any left over to take care of the present. When I’m focused on one magical moment of nature everything else disappears. I notice my heart begins to open up. My energy soars and I feel light, optimistic, and grateful. Each day is a precious blessing to be enjoyed. We always have a choice. When we find ourselves in a place doing something that makes us unhappy, we have options. We can remove ourselves from the situation, change it, or accept it totally. I have the ultimate power over my life provided I follow my heart. Stay present, in this moment all is well. Stay focused. There’s enough Divine plan working through all of us.

Stay grateful. The Living Universe is offering its gifts to you day by day, moment to moment. And as you move through your day be mindful of your thoughts. Should the slightest doubt arise, stop what you’re doing, take a breath, and take a brief time to say: ‘I give thanks to the Living Universe by focusing on my passion and sharing it with the world.’


— Louie Schwartzberg

 

Photography and Meditation

Taking photographs and practising meditation might seem at first glance to be unrelated activities. For while photography looks outwards at the visual world through the medium of a camera, meditation focuses inwards on unmediated experience. And whereas photography is concerned with producing images of reality, meditation is about seeing reality as it is. Yet in taking photographs and practising meditation over the past three decades, I find the two activities have converged to the point where I no longer think of them as different.

As practices, both meditation and photography demand commitment, discipline and technical skill. Possession of these qualities does not, however, guarantee that meditation will lead to great wisdom any more than photography will culminate in great art. To go beyond mere expertise in either domain requires a capacity to see the world in a new way. Such seeing originates in a penetrating and insatiable curiosity about things. It entails recovering an innocent, childlike wonder at life while suspending the adult’s conviction that the world is simply the way it appears.

The pursuit of meditation and photography leads away from fascination with the extraordinary and back to a rediscovery of the ordinary. Just as I once hoped for mystical transcendence through meditation, so I assumed exotic places and unusual objects to be the ideal subjects for photography. Instead I have found that meditative awareness is a heightened understanding and feeling for the concrete, sensuous events of daily existence. Likewise, the practice of photography has taught me just to pay closer attention to what I see around me everyday. Some of the most satisfying pictures I have taken have been of things in the immediate vicinity of where I live and work.

Both photography and meditation require an ability to focus steadily on what is happening in order to see more clearly. To see in this way involves “shifting” to a frame of mind in which the habitual view of a familiar and self-evident world is replaced by a keen sense of the unprecedented and unrepeatable configuration of each moment. Whether you are paying mindful attention to the breath as you sit in meditation or whether you are composing an image in a viewfinder, you find yourself hovering before a fleeting, tantalizing reality.


— Stephen Batchelor (photographer for Meditation for Life)

source of above quotations: <https://insilencewaits.wordpress.com/2015/11/12/eyes-of-the-heart-photography-as-contemplative-practice>

 

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 "spiritual forming disciples of Jesus Christ with informed minds, hearts on fire and contemplative in actions"  

 

     
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