Sunday, February 27, 2005

Photo Journalism

Photo Journalism
Photography news reporting can be interesting when it is placed in context with a written story. Being able to take good pictures is certainly a desired skill for any journalist, whether it is writing for print or digital media. Photo journalism however can be very dangerous if taken out of context.

One of the myths about journalistic photography is the perception of 'seeing is believing'. We assume visual representation in photographs is the equivalent of seeing the actual event, hence genuine in every respect, capable of conveying the truth about the happening. Unfortunately, all these are just mere perceptions as photography only records what has been captured and do not interpret the meaning of the picture. A photograph is therefore not seen reality, thus cannot be true evidence of what had happened (Kuhn 1985, p.26). Furthermore, with digital editing capabilities, creative intervention can tamper the authenticity of what is actually 'seen' through the camera eye.

Another misrepresented truth is in the area of photography portrayal of people. In 1988, the Museum of Modern Art in New York presented an exhibition of Nicholas Nixon's photographs called 'Pictures of People.' Among the people pictured by Nixon are people with AIDS (PWAs), each graphically portrayed as someone of colored skin and to be pitied or feared, often in a dehumanized state of deteriorated health. This pictorial message however is far from the truth, as many PWAs can continue to live a relatively long life after diagnosis through the use of experimental drug treatments. The real reason for the high death toll is in fact due to government inaction and the inaccessibility of affordable health care due to institutionalized neglect as a result of racism and sexism (Crimp 1992, pp.117-118).

Media representation of PWAs affects how viewers perceive the victims. Photography journalism can convey messages out of context when presented without the corresponding written story. Audiences can be manipulated if they fail to deconstruct media representations to understand the perceivable reality. Images from photography like the PWAs must be understood as simply representations, formulated not in relation to the 'truth' of the image, but in relation to a social governance and construct.

Crimp, D. (1992) "Portraits of People with AIDS" in L Grossberg, C. Nelson and P. Treicher (eds), Cultural Studies. New York: Routledge: 117-131.
Kuhn, A. (1985) "Lawless Seeing", The Power of the Image: Essays on Representation and Sexuality. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul: pp.19-47.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Inspirational Nature Walk

PhotosAs a writer I often make time to go for nature walks to think and to get inspiration from God. I walk in early morn in solitude with nature, to calm my inner spirit and to heighten my senses in listening, smelling, touching, feeling, and seeing.

I hear the birds chirping, the insects flying, and the sounds of waves hitting shore. I feel the breeze and wind caress my face. I smell nature and the fragrance of flowers in the air. I see falling leaves and flying birds and ants marching the floor endlessly without despair. I see chameleons crossing my path and I see squirrels climbing trees.

In nature I discover myself, a human being created to love nature and co-exist with others as well. In nature, I discover my inner love for writing, a longing desire ever growing, to pen my thoughts and share to the world, how great is our God, Who created us into being.

Walk with me and share my thoughts, view the photos of my nature walk.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Living With Uncertainties

Jessica has recently resigned from her job due to poor health and stress but fears for her survival and financial future. She starts looking for new jobs hoping to find something less stressful, but fears she may not be up to the job. She constantly asks herself questions of 'what if I take this job and it is just as stressful?' and 'what if I take this job and a better one comes by?'

There are many people who live their lives in fear of uncertainty and of the future. Living a life constantly plagued by 'what if' can be miserable because without assurance, Man often fails to see a positive future, so they attempt to predict the foreseeable. There is of course nothing wrong in taking measures to prevent the 'what if' that can happen. However, we must always remember forecasts and preventive measures seldom turn out the way we expect, and changes are bound to happen. The Bible agrees on this point when Jesus says:

"For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.'" (Luke 14:28-30 NAS)

The future and what it holds for us is not something we should try to predict, for it is by faith that we should build our confidence in God. If we live our lives in fear of the unknown and the possibilities of the future, we live meaningless lives, deprived of the abundant life God has intended for us.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval. (Hebrews 11:1-2 NAS)

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6 NAS)

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. (Hebrews 11:8 NAS)

If we therefore wish to live fulfilled lives, we need to first know some certainties in life, the certainty of eternity - of death and life. If we are Christians, we are certain of eternal life in Jesus Christ, so there is no fear in the end of life. It is the certainty of death that tells us our purpose of life, to do the will of Christ, as sojourners on earth passing by temporary lives.

And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, (Hebrews 9:27 NAS)

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. (Romans 8:1 NAS)

Therefore, knowing the uncertainty of life on earth, we should bravely face each challenge without fear. We may be uncertain what is next to come or what if something does not happen the way we expect it to come, yet we can be assured all things work together for the purpose of God.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28 NAS)

So, the next time we raise a question 'what if', ask what is there to fear if God is supreme in the situation? Whether it is now or the future, need we then fear our inabilities or the unknown possibilities? If we have asked God to be the Lord of our lives, will He decide to do otherwise?

… what man is there among you, when his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he shall ask for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7:9-11 NAS)

Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. (Matthew 10:26 NAS)

There is therefore no need to fear about the future or about uncertainties, so long as we have received Christ. Instead of asking questions of 'what if', ask 'what is there to fear'? If God is supreme in our lives, we know for certain that all things will work together for the purpose of Christ.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Overcoming Anger

We frequently see expressions of anger and sometimes experience flare-up too. We get angry when someone breaks a promise or when we are unable to get what we want. We also get angry because we fail to meet our own expectation or because we do not measure up to perfection. We get frustrated at people when we see them do things we considered as undignified or deviant. We may even be unhappy for being angry with people and sometimes ourselves.

There are many reasons why we get angry but we must always understand that anger in itself is not wrong. What is wrong is dependent on whether we are angry for the right reasons.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle once said:

"Anyone can be angry - that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way - this is not easy."

The Bible talks about an anger that is righteous and holy, such as the holy anger of God:

And they have defiled My holy name by their abominations which they have committed. So I have consumed them in My anger. (Ezekiel 43:8b NAS)

In this verse, we realize even God gets angry too and He has the right to do so because He is a holy and righteous God Who cannot let His holy name be defiled by the sins of Man. Jesus Himself was angry and cast out the people who were buying and selling in the temple (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17). God must also have been angry when He sends an angel to strike Herod because he did not give God the glory (Acts 12:21-23).

As we can see from the narrative above, anger in itself is NOT sin. Anger can be holy and righteous if it is for the right reasons.

Most of us however are angry not because of holiness or righteousness. We often get angry without first investigating the truth or without considerations for the circumstances of others. Regardless whether we are Christians or not, we need to learn to be "quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger" (James 1:19 NAS). We may get angry and yet do not sin if we are angry for the right reasons. However, whether it is for the right or wrong reasons, our anger must always be kept in checked and not consume us or be carried forward to another day so that we do not sin.

This is what the Bible says about handling anger:

Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. (Ephesians 4:25-16 NAS)

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31-32 NAS)

So when we get angry the next time, remember not to flare-up, but stay compose. Learn to forebear, investigate the truth, and be forgiving.

This approach however is not going to be easy, especially if you are not a Christian. To the non-believers, they must work really hard at self-control, and sometimes this method doesn't work too well for a person with a temper. For Christians, this can be cultivated quite easily because it comes natural with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit whose fruit is "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." (Galatians 5:22-23 NAS).

If you desire to have the power to overcome sin and therefore anger, all you need to do is to acknowledge your sinfulness and invite Christ into your life, and He will freely give to you His Holy Spirit. Once you have received Jesus into your life, the Holy Spirit dwells in you, and you will be able with His power overcome the desire of the flesh.

In his epistle to the Galatians, Paul teaches:

... walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. (Galatians 5:16-17)

Let us therefore who possess the Holy Spirit in us, not get angry unduly, remembering always not to let anger be brought forward to another day. Where forgiveness is necessary, confess and reconcile with the other party within the same day, and DO NOT let anger accumulate, because it can consume us to the point of bitterness. Confess to God and acknowledge our sins if we have been angry for the wrong reasons, and let the Spirit of God Who dwells in us mold and change us as we walk in His word (The Holy Bible) daily.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Beyond Valentine

Happy Valentine A day to remember the greatest love on earth,
Of Jesus Who died for us while we were yet sinners,
Of One Who willingly lays down His life for another,
To save the lost world from death eternal.

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13 NAS)

... God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 NAS)

For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world; but that the world should be saved through Him. (John 3:17 NAS)