LGBTQ

Distorted Love: The Toll Of Our Christian Theology On The LGBT Community

Though not my usual fare, I am re-blogging this post because I am so impressed by it’s poignant look at a very real condition. I have long said that the majority of Christianity will have to answer one day to the people that it has turned away from Christ through intolerance. It’s refreshing to see a pastor who’s finally caught on and is sharing the message.

john pavlovitz

SadGirl


Love doesn’t always look like love.

When I published this blog post two weeks ago, I was prepared for some people to applaud it, and for others to condemn it. That’s what happens whenever you put an opinion out there.

I was fully prepared for the waves of both support and hostility that accompany any vantage point on anything, especially a controversial topic like Sexuality. 

What I was not prepared for in any way, were the literally hundreds and hundreds of people who have reached out to me personally, to thank me for bringing some healing and hope to their families. Parents, children, siblings, and adults have confided in me (some for the first time anywhere), telling of the pain, and bullying, and shunning they’re received from churches, pastors, and church members; from professed followers of Jesus.

Scores of people from all over the world have shared with me their…

View original post 950 more words

Gerbera Daisy, Transformed

Over the 9 years we were in Utah, James and I didn’t spend Christmas or Thanksgiving together. We both felt that it was important to spend the holidays with our parents: it was important to them and we would have plenty of holidays together after the blessing of having our parents around was lost. I always went home for Christmas and he went home for Thanksgiving. Whomever wasn’t going home stayed behind to care for our kids, the cats.

I took this photo in my parent’s back yard when I was in Orlando for Christmas in 2006. I remember sitting in the grass with the Nikon D100 I was learning to use, very aware of a nearby nest of ants. James liked the photo so much, I gave him a framed 18×24 print for our anniversary. It still hangs on the wall, transformed now somehow into a reminder of how fate can mock our plans and best intentions. This morning, I came across the original image file and decided to revisit it and clean it up using my current editing skills and tool set. The end result isn’t as bright as the original — an unintentional but probably subconsciously driven outcome, for the same can now be said of me. One of the things that has always and will always draw me to photography is the ability of an image to make me reflect and feel, much like one does upon hearing an old, significant song.

"Gerbera Daisy, Transformed", Nikon D100, ISO 200, f/5.6 at 1/250 sec., 98mmClick the image to view larger size and available print options.

“Gerbera Daisy, Transformed”, Nikon D100, ISO 200, f/5.6 at 1/250 sec., 80mm
Click the image to view larger size and available print options.

=^..^=
Photographing people, places, pets and ponderings.

Booking family, personal, business and pet portrait sittings throughout Central Florida.

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

I would appreciate a vote from you in the 2013 Cool Photo Blog Awards. Just click here and you’re done. Thanks for your support!

=^,,^=

Social Engagements

Follow me on Instagram at @EarlHarrisPhoto, where I am posting photos (and quite a few kitty pics!) captured and edited on my iPhone. #herekittykitty #instagramcats

Tweeting from @EarlHarrisPhoto

Stone Mourning

“Death abides by no one’s rules…it takes what pleases it without consciousness to its decisions. It destroys what it will. It took the pieces of perfection I once knew and shattered them. Now what remains are shards of a dream, drawing blood with every step.”
Cassandra Giovanni, “Pieces of Perfection”

One of the hardest things to face since losing James has been that every morning when I awake, he dies all over again.

"Stone Mourning" [Click the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D800, ISO 320, f/2.0 at 1/1250 sec., 85 mm

“Stone Mourning” [Click the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D800, ISO 320, f/2.0 at 1/1250 sec., 85 mm

If you like this post/photo, please consider sharing it on your social networks. Thanks for your support!

COUPLES PHOTO OPPORTUNITY: I need a couple, or two people who will pose as a couple, in their 20’s or early 30’s, who are comfortable in front of the camera and want to model for an outdoor concept photo shoot in exchange for digital copies of their images. If you are in the Kissimmee/Orlando area and want to know more about this opportunity, please contact me via the form below ASAP. Serious inquiries only, please.

=^,,^=

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

Last Stand in Stockton – Revisited

Last September, I posted a photo I had taken in July just before the onset of the whirlwind that snatched James and me out of Utah and landed us in Florida. I wasn’t really happy with the photo, but in a rush to try to get something on my blog I threw up an “as is” version anyway. With James’ miracle of healing and pronouncement of being cancer-free despite an original terminal prognosis, our lives are no longer being primarily spent at Orlando’s M. D. Anderson Cancer Clinic. I am thus finding time to blog again on a more regular schedule.

One of the things I’ve been looking forward to was revisiting that photo – one of the first I captured with my pawn shop find of a Mamiya 645 Super medium format film camera. Here it is; I’m much happier with it now. I hope you like it, too.

Mamiya 645 Super, Ilford FP4 Plus ISO 125 film, 50 mm (I failed to record the shutter speed and f/stop used.)

Mamiya 645 Super, Ilford FP4 Plus ISO 125 film, 50 mm (I failed to record the shutter speed and f/stop used.)

As a side note, the period of inactivity on this blog understandably diminished its following. If you like this post, I would be extremely grateful if you’d please consider sharing it with others. And please come back again!

=^..^=

Websites for Photographers

Stepping Forward

I received an unexpected email this week from a wonderful friend that has inspired me. She is standing up for what she believes is right by speaking out for those whose voices have been silenced. With her permission, I am sharing that email with you. Aside from being a means to convey some remarkable news with you about my partner’s cancer, it’s a touching example of how our suffering has the potential to help others. It’s further evidence that we can never know how lives may be touched by our own experiences. It’s further evidence of the power of love.

Nikon D300, ISO 500, 1/125 sec at f/22, Nikkor 35 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 500, 1/125 sec at f/22, Nikkor 35 mm

Each month we attend a meeting for our local Scouting District. Tonight, at this months meeting you can only guess what was the topic that has all the Bible-beaters in a tizzy – that Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is considering changing the membership standards to remove restrictions on sexual orientation. One of the speakers was our District Executive, Guy – an employee of the Atlanta Area Council. Guy spoke briefly on the topic basically telling us that nothing would change until BSA’s final decision is made in a few months. But, the Atlanta Area Council wanted feedback from the local Scout leaders. Guy also told us that he would be glad to listen to any input from us leaders…no matter which side of the issue that we we on. I did take him up on that offer.

I said “Guy, I would like to tell you a story about one of my oldest and dearest friends – a man that I have known for more than 30 years. A man of sterling character and high standards. A man with a very strong faith in God. A man that can be described with the words from the Scout Law – Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent….all the values that I want my son to have. A truly GOOD man. Last year I got some devastating news – that he had cancer of the throat. I was absolutely heartbroken that we were going to lose such a good person to such a horrible disease. Then last month, I got a phone call and when I saw the name on the Caller ID my heart stopped, my throat tightened up and my eyes filled with tears. I didn’t want to take the call because I didn’t want to hear the news that I had been fearing and dreading. The expressions on my face had to have been hysterically comical when I was told that an entire team of doctors was flabbergasted, they had NEVER seen a tumor of this type respond to chemotherapy, but his tumor was GONE! Yes, GONE! It can only be described as a MIRACLE! No other explanation – an outright miracle! He was healed by the mercy of God because God deemed him worthy of life….but he can’t be a member of BSA because he’s gay. It’s an archaic and stupid rule that HAS to change and the sooner the better. Please feel free to use my name and tell your Council Executive that both me and my husband are most emphatically in favor of a change in the membership standards.”

Poor Guy – he just stood there all wide-eyed and could only say “Wow! Thanks for sharing that with me….and I’m glad that your friend is going to be OK.” I said “I’m thrilled that he’s going to live longer, but he has always been “OK” and it’s high time that BSA thinks so, too!”

I love you both and am proud to call you my friends.

– Sarena

Isn’t that just awesome? Sometimes you’ve just got to be willing to step forward.

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.