“The courage to call 911” that is what she said.
It truly saddens me that I could not grasp how much fear a person must be experiencing if that fear is too enveloping to call for help. I was non-judgmental and compassionate upon hearing that statement. However, seizing hold of that 1st person perspective was un-attainable to me. Even the 3rd person “conversation” perspective was only a little more hard-hitting than an Oprah or AIDS in Africa TV show. The question I asked myself was “do you have to feel a relationship to the subject to take a perspective”?
I overheard this conversation at lunch today between an inner city social worker and a young teenage male that she seemed to be counseling. The dialogue bounced between school, future, life in the city, fear, and faith. The counselor spoke quite gracefully of life beyond the street (I am assuming she once lived in the inner city) and dispelled proudly her prayers of request for the inner city youth. “The courage to call 911” was at the top of her prayer request, “if the community could only become reactionary to crime that would be a starting point”.
I am thankful that I never had to live a life that would expose me to this type of environment/fear. Non-bigotry, non-judgmental and compassion for other’s suffering is the only starting point that I can even think of to suggest a solution to these problems/perspectives.
A deep bow of gratitude & a prayer for her prayer to be answered is my request.
Except me, hear I sit. I bask in my judgmental-ness, egotistic, mindframe knowing that I am so highly evolved in my oneness. I sit quietly in the far back corner of the room reading a book. This is where the impatience of my extended stay in purgatory kicks in. There is always one extremely fat loud man who gets on my nerves. Why can he not talk in normal tones, I think to myself. His loud, course, deep-throated voice echoes throughout out the entire room. Next, comes a smack in the face directly from hell, he pulls out his cell phone to call his wife to explain his aches and pains at the top of his lungs. Oblivious to his surroundings: Why? I quietly scream in my head, do people not care that there are other people in the room?
So, there I sat reading my book. My own inner thoughts and awareness have been raped by the people in this room. Kindness for others does not exist in the medical “purgatory” room.
Perez writes: “The Integral Christian Weblog is a group endeavor which does not endorse any one model of spiritual development exclusively. However, it is safe to say that generally the best guide to the spiritual journey is one that is most comprehensive, complete, and contains rich portraits of the widest number of perspectives. Integral Institute's AQAL™ model is such an approach, and there are other integral maps with qualities to recommend. Whenever necessary, the contributors to this Weblog will try to make clear which model they are using so that interested readers can learn more about the underlying theoretical perspective”.
For my part of this blog I will post photographs that will provide a contemplative experience to the viewers. I will also occasionally post written entries on my personal Integral Christian development.
Personally for me it is quite an honor to be asked to contribute to this blog. The other contributors are Jim Marion and Chris Dierkes. Marion has written two books: “Putting on the Mind of Christ, the Inner Work of Christian Spirituality,” and “The Death of the Mythic God, the Rise of Evolutionary Spirituality.” Marion’s first book “Putting on the Mind of Christ” is a benchmark in my life. It is one of those books that jumps off the shelf at you. (Actually it did, three separate times I found this book when just perusing the bookstore. So I figured I am supposed to read this book and I am thankful that I did.) I find Marion’s writing to be truly blessed and integrally grounded.
Chris Dierkes writes the Indistinct Union: Christianity, Integral Philosophy, and Politics Blog. I am fairly new to his writing although I find his work to be captivating and thoughtful.
Joe Perez is the author of two books: Soulfully Gay and Rising Up. In the blog world few writers evolve into more than just blogging. Perez is one of the few that has broken through that wall; his self-reflective writing has captivated my daily reading for the last couple of years. Joe Perez is the author of the blogs Until, GS&C, and Whole Writing.
Look forward to postings that will be thought provoking, and spiritually inspiring. I hope you enjoy this journey that we are undertaking.
Current Music: Sounds of Wind Driven Rain by Will Ackerman
Mood: Disillusion, indifferent & slightly motivated.
Sounds: Work men rebuild a desk.
Smells: Pomegranate Green Tea
Sights: A girl writing in her journal, sitting by a tree.
Temperature: 60 degrees
Thoughts: Prayers of thankfulness for the good new a friend just told me.
Saturday night I was treated to a stranger’s personal testimonial of faith. A quick synopsis of the testimonial was life with Jesus and life without Jesus.
He told me of times of trouble in his life and his rebuking of God. Out in his backyard yelling at the sky, telling God that he would do everything he could to hurt his creation. He turned to the Devil for direction, praying for evil guidance. His only ambition was to make other people hurt as bad as he did inside. In a 15-year duration he lost a million-dollar-a-year job, his wife of 35 years through divorce, 4 children that would not speak to him, six grandchildren that were not allowed to be in is presence, and all material possessions through foreclosure resulting in a new home, a halfway house.
Sitting in the halfway house at the age 53 he needed to find a job and rebuild a career or he would have to live on the streets within the next couple of months. He went on many job interviews and was constantly turned down due to age and being over-experienced in his industry (53 with a P.H.D. in science / engineering – his job market was outsourced). At one interview he was told to find a new career for the reason that nobody would hire him at this stage of his life. The interviewer recommended that he go home and write a list of what he was good at and enjoyed, then told him to pick one and do that.
At this point in the conversation he turned to me and asked, “Have you every felt the presence of God in your life?” My answer… “I think so?” He said, “I was compelled from deep inside to write a list of what I achieved with God in my life and a list of what I have achieved since appointing myself god over my own life”. He went out again to his backyard and fell to his knees and asked God for forgiveness. He got up from his knees and told me “I felt the forgiveness, GOD in all his glory actually forgave me.”
Today this gentleman has his family back and produces Christian movies and TV shows. I share this delectation of a testimonial on Integral Christian for the reason that it represents a state and stage of development in Christian growth.
I have spent much time inside churches, either with a camera in my hand, a guitar across my lap or as a parishioner of the congregation. For those reasons church no longer feels like a sacred place to me. It feels more like an organizational establishment and workplace than a place of communion. Except when the church is empty. When it's empty, I can look into my own mind and feel the prayers and love that has been placed into the house of worship. The manner of my own thoughts move toward a mindful rest. I can sense all of the past art and culture that went into the make up of this building. The role that this building has in society today is
sacred. With the nurturing of this moment I choose to enjoy this holy
Then early in January ‘07 I clicked my way onto Howard’s blog and have been a daily reader ever since. There are a couple of things I’d like to share about why I enjoy his blog so much: strong focus on composition, great discussion/dialogue in his comments about his postings, local Pittsburgher and a fine selection of “Favorite Blogs” (that he reads located on the his blog side bar). Howard has graciously agreed to be part of my 5 question interview series. I hope you enjoy the interview and be sure to check out his “Favorite Blogs & Podcast” after perusing his site.
1) As a physician by profession, do you have an analysis on art therapy/photo therapy as a healing method?
Well, I’m not a psychiatrist (though I suspect that my wife sometimes thinks I could use one), so, in actuality, I’m not really sure that I know any more than you about that topic. However, that said, (and I am not trying to be glib here) it sure doesn’t seem like it could do any harm!
2) You seem to have a passion for the technique of printing a photograph; will you explain your printing process?
I probably do a lot of things the same as most people. I work in a color managed workflow with a hardware calibrated monitor and print on an Epson 7600 using the ImagePrint RIP.
One thing that perhaps I do a bit differently than ‘the books say to’, is that I feel that the ultimate decision as to how to make a print is based on how it actually looks on paper as opposed to following strict rules about where the highlight and shadow values should fall. I might find, for example, that retaining perfect shadow detail might lead to a flat looking print, in which case IF it looks good on paper I might well be willing to sacrifice some of the shadow detail for a better looking print overall. If the print looks flat it doesn’t make me feel any better to know that I can define objects that are in the shadows. The aesthetic result has to come first, in my opinion.
Along the same lines, I work a great deal at making adjustments to contrast and saturation locally, as opposed to globally, to try to make the print look like I think it should. I print my work on matte paper (a result both of my liking the matte aesthetic and of the 7600 making it an expensive pain in the butt to change over to semi-gloss paper) and I seem to find that prints need more contrast on matte paper as compared to semi-gloss or luster.
It takes me a good deal of time to end up with a print I am satisfied with and expresses what I wanted it to and so even though I soft-proof in Photoshop I find that I go through a good many ‘working prints’ before I am done. I guess the fact that I don’t do this professionally gives me the luxury to take the time and effort needed for me to get to where I want to be without deadlines, profit margins etc.
At some point I would like to get another somewhat smaller format printer to try my hand at black and white inkjet printing on some of the newer papers that are said to more closely emulate traditional gelatin silver prints.
3) You The digital photo age is still in its infancy stage: are there parts of the film world that you miss and/or wish that the digital world could duplicate as well as film did?
Despite the fact that I am 49 years old, I am still mostly a product of the ‘digital revolution’, at least as far as photography goes. I got started in photography when I was in high-school. At that time I put together a small darkroom. I am sure my parents, who had no connection to photography or the arts at all, thought I totally lost it when I would lock myself into our tiny linen closet and stuff towels into the bottom crack of the door in order to block out the light so that I could transfer my black and white film to the developing tank.
But after high school there was a VERY long hiatus of probably 20 or 25 years before I so much as picked up a camera again because of time limitations in college, medical school, post-graduate training etc. When I got the chance to come back to it, the digital revolution was well under way. Though I restarted with film and a scanner, I moved to pure digital capture relatively quickly. I taught myself the digital darkroom and began printing myself because I was never happy with what I got back from the ‘photo shop’….I always wanted the image to be a little darker here, more contrast there and so on. The digital darkroom was the way to go for someone who tended to be a perfectionist and had limited time because of work and three young children…it was simply much easier to do 45 minutes of printing at 10pm in the digital, as opposed to the wet, darkroom.
4) Composition is a frequent subject matter on your blog. A topic that I personally feel is missing in photography dialogue today. Will you please expand your thoughts on why a strong focus on composition is a major writing theme for you?
There is just so much information on the technical aspects of photography out there that, frankly, I think I would have very little to add. I think one of the reasons there is so much technical material out there is because that is the part of photography that is actually the easiest to learn and the easiest to teach.
I think composition is the heart and soul of photography. It is where the creation emerges. You can always learn more, practice more, and improve. It is not textbook learning and often there is no right or wrong, but that is what makes it so interesting and challenging. I enjoy that challenge of learning, doing, and writing about it.
In a way, composition also leads to the social part of photography. It is where people can get together and discuss an image and learn from each other. It is also a ‘great equalizer’, in that you can get great composition out of an inexpensive point and shoot and poor composition out of a 1Ds MkII. It only depends on who is behind the lens and not how much the lens costs.
5) What does the future hold for Grill Photographic ?
I honestly don’t know. If I think ahead five or six years, I would love to be in a situation where I can spend more time on my photography than I am currently able to. I guess for now I have to try to make the absolute most that I can from the time I do have.
I have also set some specific goals for myself. They include finishing several well defined photographic projects that I have in mind and trying to get the images ‘out there’. The project that I have written about on my blog is my so-called “Twin Jewels Project”, which is a photographic exploration of two relatively local parks that I have found very intriguing. Once completed, I would like to see if I can get the photos displayed locally.
Right now, I have been making some print sales, but, as I am sure you know, no matter how good your work is, the trick is having the time and ability to ‘market’ your artwork in one way or another.
I don’t know, sometimes it seems difficult to just plan past the next week!
I have always wanted to do a photo book on bathroom graffiti. I have found some of the most pondering phrase scribbled on bathrooms walls. Now, there are a couple of problems to produce this book: first, I really do not want to hang out in public bathrooms. Second, I think setting up a tripod and firing a flash from inside a bathroom stall would scare the hell out of people. Third, they could arrest me for suspect wrong doing (insert George Michael joke here). So anyways, I think the book would be divided into chapters like this (see below). Finally consider this idea a gift to who ever wants to run with it. (Get it? run with it to a bathroom). Please feel free to add to the chapter list if I forgot any?
Graffiti Photo Book
Chr 1) I Love You
Chr 2) Sexual Conduct
Chr 3) 80's Hair Band mention
Chr 4) Bad Philosophy Quotes
Chr 5) Drug references
Chr 6) Beatles lyrics
Chr 7) Ghetto Street Art
Chr 8) Political in-correctness
Chr 9) Miscellaneous Phone numbers
Read my interview with Joe Perez here ,
Congratulations Joe, my copy is being shipped right now….
Why? For the reason that I have no interest in current politics and I’m trying to decide if I am a Republican or a Democrat. I am an artist by profession, consequently that makes me a Democrat by trade (in time of war send the musicians in first). As this world turns I figured I should learn about what makes the U.S. turn so in the last few years, motivated by the horrors of 9/11 and current miss-handlings of this Administration, I started to develop a personal study of what makes people spew their political opinions on self-righteousness/self knowledge on how they think the government should work.
This rambling stream of consciousness is not directed toward the elected officials in office; hey, we voted them into office so why are we complaining about them. This writing is directed to anybody who wishes to have a political conversation with me. Let me set the ground rules to having a conversation with me.
First rule of having a political conversation with me is: if you think you’re 100% right, don’t bother talking to me. Second rule: if you solely vote for a Republican and/or Democrat without considering who is in the other party don’t bother talking to me either--you’re in a cult, yes you are – click here. Third rule: if you are a Democrat who only wants the government to do more for you and you do not serve your local community (i.e. charity, community services, youth education, etc…) you are a poor Democrat so please do not talk to me. Fourth rule: if you are a Republican who only wants taxes cut and do not keep conservative values or basic morals and faith (i.e. you truly conserve in body, mind and soul and use your judgment without being judgmental to others) please do not talk to me.
So, who wants to talk?
I don’t care what a person’s faith is as long as they practice it from their higher self.
That’s not a very Christian statement for me to make, however, it is no less true. A conviction in God has been a calling chasing me my whole life. I don’t have an evangelical bone in my body and in no way do I feel the desire to reach out and convert the non-believers to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. With that being said, it’s a rare day that passes that someone doesn’t engage me in a conversation about my spiritual practice and my personal beliefs about God, Jesus and faith.
Before I go any further there is a quote by Ken Wilber that I would like to share with you: “Nobody is smart enough to be 100% wrong”. With that being stated, learn what you will from what I write but don’t take it for gospel.
People generally judge my commitment to God as me being a hypocrite or a devoted monk. To respond to that statement I would answer “yes” to both. Perception is how I have been critiqued and both views are likewise accurate. I can’t pick a team/organization/building in conventional Christianity to be true to. I feel equally contented in a Catholic church as I would in a Zen monastery or a Baptist revival for the reason that I experience God’s presence everywhere.
Joe Perez writes, “Encourage readers of the Integral Christian Weblog to consider how the Trinity is alive for you as part of your practice. Where does it fit in your own understanding of your self, culture, nature, and spiritual realms?” The Trinity fits perfectly in my foundation as an Integral Christian. The “I” of Christianity is the interior of me-- “enter into your private room to pray”. This is my contemplative prayer and meditation practice. The ‘We” of Christianity is the collective embrace of the community and the all-inclusive beliefs that we practice and share. Hence, why I feel comfortable in almost any house of worship. Nevertheless it’s all a spectrum, kaleidoscope, divine light that we all experience. The “It” is the interior and exterior of the salvation of the resurrected body of Jesus Christ.
The “It’s” experience is how all-inclusive the Trinity fits into self, culture and nature. The spiritual realms of development are only available to me with the balance of body, mind and soul within self, culture and nature. Within that statement: I as an “Integral Christian” may be an (post-post conventional) example of Christ’s teaching with the grace of God’s help
Current Music: Appassionato by Yo-Yo MA
Sounds: IN in the headphones
Smells: Rice and vegetables
Sights: paramount of a photograph ( I can not stop staring at this)
Temperature: 66 degrees
Thoughts: Cellist Mstislav Rostropovich dies at 80 r.i.p.
I have been walking/scouting this new location for two weeks, practicing the art of seeing. Today I went out with no intentions of shooting. I was feeling under the weather and thought that a slow walk would clear my mind and body. I walked the path that I have cut out for myself with possible shooting locations. This morning the light was perfect, I raced back to my home, grabbed the tripod and fish-eye lens and back out I went.