Cross of Shadows: A Question of Character

WARNING: Today’s photo comes with a bit of a personal soap box. Thanks for indulging me.


“God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.”
— 1 John 4:8

Perhaps it’s all the hoopla and undeserved attention Phil Robertson is getting that compels me to write today’s post. I’ll be the first to admit it contains a great deal of an entirely personal rant based on entirely personal perception. I hope you’ll excuse me for adding another voice to the chaos.

As a second-class citizen currently denied the rights given to others, I quite often encounter those who think of themselves as Christians acting as voices for hate rather than love. To that point, today’s post is intended as a bit of a reality check. It is quite clear that A FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH has been put aside in the practice of the Christian faith, one which concerns me greatly. It is the question of God’s character and the failure of most denominations to understand and conform their teachings to this simple and critical truth.

The Bible teaches that God is love. (1 John 4:8). But what exactly does that mean? Let’s start by looking at what it does not mean: It doesn’t mean that God is loving. You and I can be loving, but we cannot be love. Only God can do that. Since scripture should always be used to interpret scripture, we can look at 1 Corinthians 13, verses 4 – 8 for a definition of love. And here’s where I’m going to ask you to do something different. Instead of reading these familiar verses as a revelation of what love is, understand them as a revelation of who God is. I’ve substituted “God” where “love” occurs in the scripture to help you see it.

“4 Love God is patient, love God is kind, it He isn’t jealous, it He doesn’t brag, it He isn’t arrogant, 5 it He isn’t rude, it He doesn’t seek His own advantage, it He isn’t irritable, it He doesn’t keep a record of complaints, 6 it He isn’t happy with injustice, but is happy with the truth. 7 Love God puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things. 8 Love God never fails…”

Why isn’t this what churches — and Christians — are teaching today? How many times have you heard preachers hurl from the pulpit endless strings of admonishment about God being angry, eager to throw sinners into hell? How can this be reconciled with the clear scriptural evidence of God’s character? Who should you choose to believe, the Bible or your pastor? Yes — the Bible does say to “fear God”, but is the concept of “fear” communicated the kind that leaves us quaking with terror in a corner somewhere, incapable of having a relationship with Him? How can you truly love someone you’re taught to be afraid of? No, it means to look upon Him with awe and respect, reconciled to the truth that there is and can be no greater focus for our love and allegiance.

And what’s truly beautiful about that is the fact that God’s character is unchanging. Can you say the same about your understanding of Him? I hope not. “Judgment Day”, rightly understood, is not so much about how we are judged by God as it ultimately is about how we have judged Him. I may not be trained in theology, but I have spent my life studying God’s Word and seeking to know Him, despite the attitude of the church toward me. Though it would be nice to be accepted into a church family on the sole fact that I love God and seek to have a relationship with Him, I don’t need other believers to validate and confirm God’s love for me. I am grateful for the fact that God is love, even though most Christians are not even loving. Phil Robertson, and those like him, would do well to revisit Scripture and do so with an open mind and a spirit of understanding. Until they do, it’s not God they are serving, but His antithesis. Simply put, if it’s not love that motivates you, it’s not God.

"Cross of Shadows" [Click the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D800, ISO 3200, f/1.8 at 1/80 sec. handheld, 50 mm

“Cross of Shadows” [Click the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D800, ISO 3200, f/1.8 at 1/80 sec., 50 mm

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Celebrating the life of a good friend who’s passed

Thank you, John, for providing me with today’s post. I will cherish this.

A View From The Middle (Class)

This is one of those articles I haven’t wanted to write, but the need to do so still exists.  My family lost a good friend today.  However, the belief is still there that the parting need not be sorrowful, it’s more a matter of time until we meet again.

James Cantrell died this morning in Florida after a long and agonizing yet still courageous battle with cancer.  Those are hard words to write.  They’re words that bring about anger — aimed directly at the illness that took James’ life, and the lives of too many others.

But, knowing James, he wouldn’t want us to be sad for long.  He’d want us to celebrate the life that he led.

In many ways, it was the kind of life everyone could take a piece from and use as an example on how to live it to the fullest, and to show how…

View original post 1,443 more words

If Cancer Had A Face

Is this the face that haunts us?
He that invades our lives with pain, heartbreak and fear?
He that seeks to destroy our future? A future once so bright and secure.
Is this the face that takes it away;
Takes everything, leaving only Love to stand naked and alone?
You cannot create, so you have to destroy.
You deceive, driving others to chaos.
And still your face pales next to the face of Love.
You destroy the body, but you can’t degrade Love.
We’ve seen evidence of Greater Promises, and it has changed us.
Truth, Faith and Grace will take us through to a better Day,
When Love shall be renewed and together we can acknowledge:
The price was cheap enough.

"Ghoul" [Click on the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D300, ISO 320, f/3.3 at 1/2000 sec., 85 mm

“Ghoul” [Click on the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D300, ISO 320, f/3.3 at 1/2000 sec., 85 mm


We learned this last Thursday that James’ cancer, which was in full remission, has returned. Despite James’ horrible pain and discomfort, we have plans to travel to DC soon to be married by Rev. Cedric Harmon. I am flying up tomorrow to apply for our license, then there’s the obligatory 3-5 day wait for turnaround and processing. Sadly, Florida will not acknowledge our Civil Rights and there is no place closer we can go to get this done. We are thus forced to endure the expense and hardship of travel. After 21 years of committing our lives to God and each other, we deserve this happiness amidst this hell. James wants to ensure that no matter what happens, we can receive the benefits we are entitled to by right and by Liberty. We humbly and gratefully request your prayers for healing and strength to get us through these difficult days. Thank you and God bless. — Earl

The Answer to Difference

Difference is of the essence of humanity. Difference is an accident of birth and it should therefore never be the source of hatred or conflict. The answer to difference is to respect it. Therein lies a most fundamental principle of peace: respect for diversity.
– John Hume

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/800 sec. at f/7.1, 90 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/800 sec. at f/7.1, 62 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/320 sec. at f/10, 20 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/320 sec. at f/4.5, 18 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/640 sec. at f/11, 18 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/160 sec. at f/18, 36 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/125 sec. at f/9.0

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/800 sec. at f/7.1, 46 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/125 at f/32, 65 mm

Are you pictured in today’s post?
Please  contact me if you would like a free full-sized
digital copy of your photo.

Earl Harris Photography is proud to serve and photograph Utah’s GLBT community.


Thank you for leaving your comments below.
Be sure to stop back by tomorrow for the last
post to feature photos from Utah Pride.

A Diverse Family

The human family is very diverse, with many different beliefs and cultures and ways of life. Many conflicts in our world are caused when people are intolerant of the ways that others see the world. Learning tolerance is an important cornerstone to creating a better world.
– Robert Alan Silverstein

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/640 sec. at f8, 27 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/200 sec. at f/9, 38 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/800 sec. at f/5.6, 200 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/125 sec. at f/10, 44 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/200 sec. at f/4.8, 55 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/125 sec. at f/9, 35 mm

Are you pictured here?
Please  contact me if you would like a full-sized
digital copy of your photo.

Earl Harris Photography is proud to serve and photograph Utah’s GLBT community.


I appreciate your comments.
Be sure to stop back by Thursday and Friday for the last
two posts that will feature photos from Utah Pride.

A Sense of Pride

You can’t give people pride, but you can provide the kind of understanding that makes people look to their inner strengths and find their own sense of pride.
– Charleszetta Waddles

Today’s post features a few more photos from this past weekend’s Utah Pride festival and parade. I had a good time stopping perfect strangers and asking if I could take their photos. It was a great opportunity to meet some interesting people, do a bit of networking and capture some fun shots from impromptu models.

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/320 sec. at f/2.2, 85 mm, (Richard designed and made his awesome skeleton outfit)

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/160 sec. at f/18, 120 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/200 sec. at f/7.1, 35 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/160 sec. at f/18, 60 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/200 sec. at f/4.5, 32 mm

Are you pictured here? Please
contact me
if you would like a copy of your photo.

Earl Harris Photography is proud to serve and photograph Utah’s LGBT community.


I hope you enjoy today’s photos.
Please leave a comment below and be sure to stop
back by this week more photos are featured from Utah Pride.

Prince Poppycock

The headline entertainer at the Utah Pride Festival on Saturday night was the extravagant and incredible “Crowned Prince of Absurdity”, Prince Poppycock. You probably saw him taking America by song on the 2010 season of America’s Got Talent. Pictured here upon his arrival from the Kingdom of Poppycock, all those present were quickly charmed by his magical merriment, vibrant voice and magnificent music.

This was one of those occasions when by pure chance I happened to end up at the right place at the right time: the Prince had just arrived and was about to be whisked away on a royal white … golf cart.

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/125 sec. at f/5.6, 170 mm


Please share your thoughts on the photo.
Leave a comment below and be sure to stop
by again this week for more photos from Utah Pride.

Earl Harris Photography proudly serves and photographs Utah’s GLBT community.

Thank You, Mrs. Fagerberg

How an unexpected kindness altered my life

I have been fortunate to enjoy the holidays in the company of family and friends in Central Florida. Not only was it fabulous to get out of Salt Lake City’s cold temperatures and horribly polluted air, it was a wonderful opportunity to “recharge”, de-stress, and renew some of the most meaningful relationships in my life.

I am blessed with a friendship that was born in 1977 when a high school biology teacher at the school I had just started in a new town took note of my interest in carnivorous plants. She encouraged me to introduce myself to another student who shared my interest. I learned it would be easy to find him, as he happened to spend the lunch break most every day in her classroom. Although this latter fact sounded every nerd alarm my mind could concoct (somehow I failed to see spending every day with a camera around my neck as being nerdy…!), I was intrigued enough want to meet another sophomore who shared my fascination with and cultivation of flesh eating plants. And thus it came about that I met John.

Mrs. Fagerberg - Thanks! Your influence extended far beyond the classroom and will last a lifetime!

I seriously doubt Mrs. Fagerberg had any idea of the impact her introduction would have on the two lives it involved. How could she have known she had just kindled the most enduring, heartfelt and sincere friendship I would treasure from that moment forward? Did she even imagine that she would spark a friendship that would become instrumental in the growth, development and coming to terms with difficult realities in the lives of two young men? Or could it have simply been “Fate” that directed her to suggest our introduction? Our birthdays even turned out to be exactly 1 week apart!

The interest John and I shared in carnivorous plants resulted in a number of expeditions into the swamplands in and around Gainesville to collect the species that at that time were prolific in the area. Sarracenia minor and several varieties of Drosera could be found with relative ease. We even became rather industrious, shipping specimens to other collectors in exchange for non-native varieties to add to our terrariums.

As our friendship and immediate circle of friends grew, so did our discovery of ourselves and who we were. When, at the end of our senior year I was selected to be a foreign exchange student to Austria, the potential of losing touch or growing distant from John was frightening. Yet, upon my return, this fear proved to have been completely unwarranted. I shall never forget the moment John re-entered my life, and exactly how it occurred — but that is another story for another time! Suffice to say that John and I were pretty much inseparable and, even after he moved to Daytona Beach and I to Orlando, there were very few weekends we did not spend together, especially after John moved into what I fondly began to refer to as the “Amityville House”.

As we both succumbed to the demands of adulthood and the obligations it brings, distance began to separate us again when I moved to Los Angeles in 1984. Yet even so, the friendship we shared continued to blossom and grow. I returned to Florida (Orlando) in 1990, and was delighted to discover that where John and I were concerned, it was as though I had never been away.

It has now been almost 35 years since Mrs. Fagerberg introduced me to John. And although I now live in Utah and he is still in the Daytona Beach area, the depth and steadfastness of our friendship remains. I now typically get to spend time with John only once a year, when I travel to Florida to spend Christmas with family. And to my continued delight, he and I are always in step; able to resume our friendship as though another year hasn’t passed with us being so far apart.

John, the biology and botany nerd... but at least he didn't have a pen in his pocket! He did, however, forge new ground with 80's hair post-graduation.

If I could, I’d love to tell Mrs. Fagerberg how her suggestion and introduction set the foundation for a lifetime friendship. I’d like to be able to thank her for being such a wonderfully observant teacher and facilitator of things that have affected and altered my life far more than anything I was to have learned in biology! I suppose it is correct to say that she is the teacher that had the biggest impact on my life, and for that I salute her and all the teachers out there who aren’t afraid to step out of the box, look beyond the textbooks and chalk, and dare to truly make a lasting difference in the lives of their students.

“I salute all the teachers out there who aren’t afraid to step out of the box, look beyond the textbooks and chalk, and dare to truly make a lasting difference in the lives of their students…”