Tag: religion

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Another Bible Story

I recently realized something is missing from my Harper Study Bible, which is Revised Standard Version. Verses are omitted, which greatly surprises. My go-to Good Book is a compact New American Standard acquired during the mid-1980s. In that translation, verses that scholars suspect were later added to the original text are bracketed. They are omitted, often without explanation, in RSV, I discovered earlier this week. As one of many examples: Mark 15 skips verse 28.

The 1980-edition HSB is a used purchase, from Amazon in April 2017. The seller failed to indicate that a name is gold-embossed on the cover—and not even his own. But that gotcha aside, condition was quite good. But five years later, the leather shows significant wear, cracking and separating some places. As such, retirement was an eventual destination for the book.

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No Vision

New Vision Christian Fellowship closed its University Heights building in May 2019, long after selling the property to a developer for as much as $34 million (I couldn’t confirm the amount). If my observation of apparent sparse attendance—except for free food days—indicates anything, the church hadn’t thrived for some time in the location. Proceeds from the sale created opportunity for relocation (Orange Avenue in City Heights) and funds to expand evangelical work.

But the departure nevertheless left a hole in the heart of the San Diego neighborhood, which would be filled with a towering edifice currently under construction. A modest religious institution will be replaced by a towering cathedral for materialistic worshippers.

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The Last Christmas

On Dec. 22, 2018, I happened by New Vision Christian Fellowship during the latter portion of its Christmas celebration. Clueless me for not knowing what was going on in my San Diego neighborhood of University Heights. But my ignorance only started there. I also didn’t know that the church had sold the property to developers. This would be the last such gathering at the location.

I rather gingerly shot candids, using Leica Q, wanting not to intrude—particularly because of timing: Parents lined up with kids to receive presents of what kind I either didn’t see or simply don’t recall; being otherwise focused. None of the three shots is spectacular; their value is marking a moment passed that can never return or repeat.

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A New Vision

We begin a series of posts looking at what was along Park Blvd between El Cajon and Meade in San Diego neighborhood University Heights and what replaces it. On most Friday afternoons, New Vision Christian Fellowship opened its doors to give away food. Long lines formed, with recipients largely making up two disparate demographic groups: The elderly and Hispanic families.

I used Leica M10 and Summarit-M 1:2.4/50 lens to capture the Featured Image and companion on April 27, 2018. Vitals for both: f/5.6 (guess), ISO 100, 1/500 sec, 50mm; 5:06 p.m. PDT.

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‘They Graffitied It’

This morning, following my semi-annual dentist appointment, I walked from San Diego’s College Area to Talmadge, where is Grocery Outlet. Along the way, at the corner of El Cajon Blvd and 62nd Street, I came upon some religious love art on a utility box. Well, that was worth a shot.

As I pulled up iPhone 13 Pro to take the Featured Image, a big dude smoking a joint thumped down the sidewalk. Downwind to the stink, I smelled his approach before seeing him. Passing by, he pointed and stated: “They graffitied it”. I didn’t say, but thought: Yeah, if you consider Jesus graffiti. I don’t, and that section of the city could use a little spiritual affirmation—the, ah, weed-wacking walker, too.

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The Players

Friends invited me to attend Spirit West Coast at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in 2008. I couldn’t guess what to expect—and, whoa, what a surprise. The atmosphere felt good and the overall ambience refreshed and enlivened. Christian musicians. Families. Young adults. All having fun at a festival where there was no alcohol or illegal substances. I was surprised. Transfixed.

I attended the following year, too. But those days are gone. The music festival no longer comes to San Diego County.

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Where the Monks Live

Nested among commercial cathedrals to alcohol and hedonism is the Hsi Fang Temple on Park Blvd in University Height’s main business district. The location is prime real estate that developers drool over, and it’s a spiritual stakeholder among one of the many San Diego communities where Christianity is in decline (see my missive “Is God Inclusive?” for perspective on that values topic).

I occasionally will see Buddhist monks, dressed in their more traditional garb, walking about UH. They are in some ways the biggest reminder of the temple’s presence, in part because the building, while massive, is unpretentious. Street-facing Buddha’s Light Bookstore might draw more attention if open more hours (website says Wednesday evenings and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends).

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The Lawn God

I don’t know what to make of this thing. Do you? There is something about the, ah, artwork that conjures images of animal idols worshipped by ancient cultures. As such, I am somewhat hesitant to share the Featured Image, captured today using Leica Q2 Monochrom. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/800 sec, 28mm; 12:44 p.m. PDT. I took another at f/2.8 but prefer this shot.

My understanding is that goats are often associated with the occult or Satan worship. For sure, there is a whole lot of potential symbolic imagery to associate with this thang—and all of it beyond my knowledge to decipher. For example, what’s that emblem on the metal stake through the skull? Are those hanging cogged machine wheels supposed to represent overly large testicles? Or do I make something out of nothing—someone having merely cobbled together junk to make a personal showpiece?

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Amazing Grace

While walking along Oregon Street in North Park today, my wife and I unexpectedly came upon free food distribution outside Grace Church. Most of the gathered recipients were elderly, and they are a population often hiding in plain sight. There are many somewhat unkempt houses scattered about this San Diego neighborhood and those adjacent. Within may live someone older, or retired, who owns the property but lives on meager fixed-income in an area with rapidly rising cost of living.

Homeownership isn’t wealthiness if you are aged, attached to where you live (meaning not wanting to move), but barely able to manage ongoing expenses, which could include food. Tell you this: I saw no heavyweights waiting in line. This was a lean lot.

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The Gathering

Sometimes, like now, I miss using a telephoto or zoom lens. Tonight, while looking over neglected, archived RAW files, I came across a set from a Sep. 28, 2008 evangelical gathering. Problem: I don’t recall what it was or where was the San Diego County venue. Similarly, I can’t identify any of the people portrayed in the three portraits that you see in this post.

The Featured Image and companions come from Nikon D90 and 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED-IF AF-S VR DX Zoom-Nikkor lens. Vitals for the first: f/5.6, ISO 800, 1/200 sec, 130mm; 10:55 a.m. PDT. I suspect, but can’t say, that the gentleman is a preacher and the lady is his wife. But, again, and apologies, I don’t remember.

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Is God Inclusive?

This post is sure to stir up trouble. I write sparingly about politics and rarely about religion because the topics are metaphorical loaded automatic assault weapons ready to blast endless emotional rounds of ammunition. Retaliation is swift. You can’t duck fast enough or return fire in the way of meaningful discussion. For too many people, conversation isn’t an option. To them, you are offensive and wrong. So safety is measured in silence before the easily offended.

But I uncharacteristically wonder outloud about faith, sparked by the Featured Image, which I captured on Nov. 20, 2021 using iPhone 13 Pro. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 32, 1/1167 sec, 13mm; 12:45 p.m. PST. The church, located in San Diego’s Hillcrest neighborhood, has long puzzled me because of the six doors and what their combined colors represent. I had thought the canonized Bible—the same book the congregation presumably reads—prohibits behaviors and lifestyles which the institution embraces.

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Our Lady of Guadalupe

Remember the local postal place forced to close so that the block could be redeveloped? On July 12, 2021, when walking by to look at “No Trespassing” signs posted on adjacent buildings, I saw something passed probably dozens of times without my noticing: A holy plaque placed on the outside wall.

Not being Catholic, I conducted an online image search to identify “Our Lady of Guadalupe”. I used Leica Q2 to capture the Featured Image, which is composed as shot. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/400 sec, 28mm; 10:15 a.m. PDT. She is the shuttered shop’s lone protector until the demolition tractors level all the buildings. May her vigil not be in vain.