Tag: religion

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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.

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I’m in Trouble Now

Uh-oh. Some Bible scholar correct me if I am mistaken. Isn’t that the number of the Beast? On my grocery receipt. For cat food!

Bad as that is—and I lie not: Hours ago, when I started writing this post, my website fatally crashed. I had to enter Recovery Mode and remove an important plugin, which, oddly, comes from the same developer as the blogging system. You would think the company’s stuff should work rightly together.

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A Bible Story Revisited

On this Good Friday eve, when according to the Biblical account Jesus shared with his disciples the Last Supper, I follow up the personal story from Jan. 21, 2021—buying with, and for, my wife the Thomas Nelson-published, Leathersoft “classic verse-by-verse, center-column, reference Bible” (New King James Version). Five days later, when an online video referred to Matthew 18:1, Anne asked about the narrative text being in red and Christ’s words in black. I looked. That’s not right.

So I perused and found that on some pages Jesus’ quotes were the expected “red letter”, while on others text was swapped black with the rest. Mmmm, what to do? I considered calling the Christian bookstore from where we purchased the Bible. But given how negatively SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns have affected small businesses and being a printing error, I contacted the publisher.

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A Bible Story

My wife has started reading the Bible, which helps her cope with these trying times that never seem to end—and they won’t as long as SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—better known as COVID-19lockdowns destroy lives and livelihoods and deep cultural and political fissures foster an American Civil (Cold) War. Anne had been using my 1980-edition, leather-bound Harper Study Bible that I purchased used for $60 in April 2017. This morning, she decided to buy a Good Book for herself.

The question: From where? Before even I could answer, she stated: “Not from Amazon”. Okay. I knew that Rock Church has a Christian bookstore in Point Loma, Calif.; we could go there. “What about La Mesa?” she asked—having no idea if there might be a bookseller there. “Siri, Christian bookstores”, I queried. Sure enough, there turned out to be a shop at 4695 Date. Ave. To the car we walked, then drove East to a rewarding shopping expedition but disheartening look at too many shuttered small businesses.

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Jesus Christ Superstar

Soundtrack for my life this Good Friday is the rock opera written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Track “Superstar” released as a single in October 1969 and the entire album on Oct. 27, 1970. The first stage musical production followed the next year and a film in 1973. Jesus Christ Superstar was a phenom, benefitting from timing.

JCS arrived at the peak of the Jesus Movement spreading across North America to Europe. Jesus People riding in brightly, multi-colored painted buses remains a stereotypical icon of the era. June 21, 2971 Time magazine celebrated the “Jesus Generation”. Like other Baby Boomers, these young people sought love and change but by getting high from shared spirituality rather than sex and drugs.