Saturday, September 27, 2014

The road is calling me.....

There's a Gordon Lightfoot song that best describes my mood today:

Carefree highway, let me slip away on you
Carefree highway, you seen better days
The morning after blues from my head down to my shoes
Carefree highway, let me slip away, slip away on you

This time of year, the first week of October, is usually when I'd pack up my Jeep with food and film, and head out for a week or more of photographic exploration. When I took these trips with my dad, we'd plan the route and the hotels carefully. But by the time I was exploring on my own (before I started to date my wife), I'd have a general idea where I'd want to go, and then just let the days take me as the did.  I'd often pick a single location for 2-3 nights so I could explore the entire area. And yes, I miss those days.

One trip that I took in 1995 really sticks out to me, because it was one I took with other photographers.  But on this trip we went off the beaten track a bit, and found the roads less traveled. One of them is Utah highway 14, which heads west from highway 89, north of Mt. Carmel Junction, and then continues past Cedar Breaks National Monument, through the Brianhead ski area, and then down to Cedar City.  It is a lonely 2-lane road, but it is filled with the natural beauty that abounds in south central Utah.  

One place in particular sticks in my mind.  A spot of aspens just next to the road, with a stream and series of beaver ponds.  As the group stopped there, we spent a wonderful hour or so photographing in that area.  It makes me miss not just being on the road, but discovering the beauty of nature with other photographers who seek the same thing.  

I miss the open road, and with all the other goals (both the necessary and the inspired), I don't know when I'll return.  But I will.  That road keeps calling me.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Who ya gonna worship?

I have to admit that I have a problem in worshipping Jesus.  

There.  I've said it.  And let me say it again. I have a problem in worshipping Jesus.

Now, many of my Christian friends may find this statement odd, since I have been involved in church since I was a child.  And I have a few friends who are what I'd call "Pentecostal", in that their form of worship service is heavy on praise songs and prayer, which does have a tendency to rely heavily upon repeated use of the name of Jesus, with the repeated phrases "Praise you, Jesus", or "Praise Jesus", or "We love you, Jesus".  As I have expressed before, I do not feel comfortable in that worship environment, so you'll forgive me if I find those kind of services simple and too emotional.  Now, I am not saying that they are wrong or of no value: in fact, I will argue that they DO have value, in that they often bring the "unchurched" to an understanding of Jesus and the gift of Grace He provides by our acceptance of that gift.

But the point of my first line is to say that I find that the worship of Jesus to be, well, a bit misguided. You see, in my reading of the Gospels, Jesus often refers to himself via metaphor as a means to get to God.  For example, John 4:6, ".....No one comes to the Father except through me."  Again in John, 10:9, "I am the gate (some translations say 'door'); whoever enters through me will be saved." To me, clearly, Jesus saw that He was (and is) the intercessor, the door or gate in which we can find salvation.  Jesus is the path to God.  He preached and taught about God, and God's love.  That God "sent down his only son, so that anyone who believes in him, will be saved."

You see? Now, how can I put this, using metaphor?  OK.  When you buy a house, you work with a realtor.  They get you into the property, and then into escrow.  But once you're in the house, you don't still work with the realtor. You don't call them to ask them about the plumbing, or how to run the washing machine, or what color to paint the kid's bedroom.  The realtor's work is done (OK, some realtors are smart and realize that many clients of theirs become return clients).  But in this analogy, once you use the realtor's services, you are done.  And in a sense, Jesus - the manifested Son of God, part of the Triune God - is your entry, the gate, the door, to get TO God.  And once IN there, we then are free to worship God. God is to be worshipped, in my point of view.  Not Jesus.  Granted, if you do follow the mystery of the Trinity, God is Jesus, Jesus is God, yada-yada, so you might find my argument to be one of semantics.  And perhaps it is.  

But truthfully, I just feel that we are to worship God.  Jesus is to be praised in that he's the Son of God, and in that it is through his sacrifice that we are able - at all - to truly worship God.  Perhaps it really makes no difference at all.

Soli Deo Gloria

Monday, September 01, 2014

Labor Day....

Today is Labor Day, and for many, we think of this as the "official" end to summer. Many colleges and K-12 schools have already started, and some start up this week (my kids start tomorrow). But I'm looking at THIS particular Labor Day, and thinking of how labor and the labor movement did so much for us today.  

As much as I am a history buff, I will confess that I am not that knowledgeable about the labor movement here in the United States.  But I do have enough knowledge to know that organized labor, in particular, has had a dramatic impact on our society:  the hours we work are 8 hours a day; overtime laws (which vary state-by-state and even federally); standards of conduct in hiring and firing. All of these can be attributed to the labor movement and organized labor - unions.

But it is that final point I wish to discuss: unions.  While I have family and friends that are involved in various unions (my brother, Jim, for example, is a teacher and in the teacher's union), and I appreciate their efforts to insure that the workers they represent and lobby for are taken care of, I must say that as an outside observer, I wonder how much longer they can last.

The irony is that many unions, in lobbying for better work standards, hours, pay, etc., and seeing those enacted into federal or state legislation, have actually created a paradox: they got what they wanted, now how relevant are they? Look at the various grocery worker strikes that seem to do little to benefit the workers; the once vaunted and powerful Teamsters, which still has sway, but certainly not the swagger it did 40-50 years ago under Jimmy Hoffa. And in my own personal experience, sitting in rehearsal with the Pacific Chorale, and John Alexander was just finishing up something when the union rep for the Pacific Symphony Orchestra started to pack up his double-bass, signaling for the rest of the orchestra to do the same. Most did, but a few stayed at their music stands to listen to John and note what he was asking. But I can tell you that there was more than one disgruntled chorale member who felt that John was really just about done - maybe a few seconds more - and then he was done, and that the orchestra showed little class or respect to John and to the overall goal: creating music.  

So, on this Labor Day, while I applaud what unions have done in the past and how they've altered the working landscape for us all who continue to work, even if we are not technically "on the clock", I wonder how relevant unions still are, how altruistic to their members they are, and how much longer the working people will really "need" them.