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Old 07-19-2006, 03:05 PM   #16
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That one was displayed by Kodak as picture of the day back in 2003 in Times Square NY.

http://www.kodak.com/eknec/PageQueri...equestid=15231
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Old 07-19-2006, 03:07 PM   #17
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I can see why!

I can also see why you are a "Dead Can Dance" fan, but that is getting off topic.
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Old 07-19-2006, 03:08 PM   #18
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Absolutely breathtaking photos, Justin, you certainly have talent! And I admire your spiritual approach, as well - finding a way that has meaning to you.


I've been enjoying everyone's experiences, thanks for sharing.
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Old 07-19-2006, 04:28 PM   #19
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awesome thread idea! great posts


hmm, i don't really have a conversion story. but i'll post my religious background.

my parents are both Christians, although never belonging to any denomination. and i was always home schooled. when we lived in England we attended a church of england church, then when we moved to the USA (i was 11) we attended a small non-denominational church with a pastor that Jerry Falwell & Pat Robertson etc would've liked a lot, after several years of that the church disbanded when the pastor retired. i was 16 then, and started going to another much larger non-denominational church in town without my parents. i went there for 2 years, mainly because i liked the youth pastor, lots of other things i didn't like about the church. but during that time i started to see the world & everything really with much more of an open mind...example: started listening to mainstream rock and roll music because i didn't think it was evil anymore etc. i stopped going to that church after graduating high school because i was too old for that youth group...

i haven't attended a church regularly since then, mainly because i cannot stand the self righteous attitudes of most people i meet in churches here. i still believe in God & consider myself a Christian, but in the last year or so/since graduating high school i have been questioning many of my beliefs. still haven't come up with many answers though.

i suppose my guitar playing & songwriting is my main expression for my searching, but now i'm getting way too in depth for myself so i'll leave it at that.


mine's not nearly as interesting as some of yours.
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Old 07-19-2006, 05:38 PM   #20
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Gorgeous photos, Justin. Beautiful stories everyone. I was literally moved by all of them. It helps me remember that in the midst of our often heated debates, there are real, living human beings sitting at computers all over this world, just doing the best they can.

Thanks to all. Looking forward to hearing more stories.

P.S. Aeon, your story reminds me of the guy in C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters, the patient. Especially that bit about the "commoners"! lol!
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Old 07-19-2006, 05:59 PM   #21
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Gorgeous photos, Justin. The first one is breathtaking and I love your black and whites.
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Old 07-19-2006, 06:03 PM   #22
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Originally posted by maycocksean


P.S. Aeon, your story reminds me of the guy in C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters, the patient. Especially that bit about the "commoners"! lol!
Exactly One of my favorite books of all time!
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Old 07-19-2006, 07:00 PM   #23
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As U2 fans, everyone here should get a kick out of my "conversion" story.

I grew up in a Christian home with a Lutheran mom and a Catholic dad. My mom was my main influence on my faith. I could almost say I've always been a Christian. I remember being very young and just being excited to go to church (Lutheran). I felt this sense of Holy peace during the services, I know it was God. When I was 7 or 8 my friends would come over and we'd make Bibles. I'm not kidding. My sisters and I would play church. The funny thing is my parents weren't hardcore or anything, it's just something that moved me deeply. The idea of Christ still moves me deeply.
Flash forward a few years — probably 12-years-old, and my parents had a talk with my because the heavy metal I was listening to was all about sex, drugs and death. Honestly, I didn't pay attention to the lyrics, but the music was empowering. I was still a Christian too, but not as into it as I had been. Something was missing. Anywho, my parents got me Christian rock stuff, which sucked bad —*but the lyrics excited me. I had never heard people sing about Christ other than in church. It was refreshing, but, the music still sucked bad.
So, my heavy metal friends then found out I was listing to crap Christian music and they litterally threw dog crap at me. Not a good day. I felt torn between the right message, and the right music (I can't believe I thought Heavy Metal was the right music. Keep in mind, I was in elementary school.) Anywho, I kept listening to heavy metal.
Then Achtung Baby comes out. At the time, I thought Joshua Tree was crap because it wasn't heavy, but Achtung Baby was just flat out incredible. I think I started hating heavy metal after I heard that album. Then a few years later, my friend asks me to bring my Bible over. He was Catholic, but didn't go to church much. I brought it over and he told me to look up verses. Then he opened up the booklet to Achtung Baby. I then witnessed how Bono was inspired by the Bible in writing much of the lyrics.
This is seriously one of the biggest life changing moments I've ever experienced. It was my first exposure to Relevant christianity — Bono was cool as hell and he's singing about Biblical stuff.
I realized I could be a Christian, but not be caught up in the crappy Christian culture. In fact, finding my own identity in Christ and living it out through my own expressions and interests was actually more along God's plan for my life anyway.
I seriously became a committed Christian because of Bono's own faith in Christ and how he lived it out.
I still find his faith inspiring in a life-changing way too. What he's doing with Africa is unbelievable. I would argue he's one of the most Christ-like people alive today.
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Old 07-21-2006, 01:14 AM   #24
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Justin I love those photos, especially the mountain scene with the waterfall. I do something similar to meditate and pray. I like to run so I go off by myself to think and ponder on things. It clears my head and makes me feel closer to God.

As for my conversion story, I grew up raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, sometimes called Mormons or the LDS church. I went to church very regularly growing up. Some of my extended family didn't go to the LDS church even though that is how I was raised. I don't know that I was truly converted till I was about 17 or so. High school was rough and I was depressed and things weren't going right. I did some soul searching and a lot of praying and realized God's love for me. I realized that he is always there, even when we turn away from him. In my church most of the young men serve a two year mission when they are 19. So in preparation for that I read the scriptures and studied and stuff. Now, looking back I know that nothing really prepares you for a mission. I served in the Nashville Tennessee Mission which also includes Western Kentucky and Southern Illinois. Anyway I got to meet lots of different kinds of people that I would have never met staying in Utah. I learned to really love the people there and I love that part of the country now too. My mission was a proselytizing mission. I didn't go to jam religion down people's throats. Some people are searching for something and some aren't. I just went out to share a message on what I knew to be true in my heart and people could choose to agree with it, disagree or continue learning about what I was blessed with. I have been home from my mission about a year and a half and I still feel that desire to help people but there is another time and another place for that.
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Old 07-24-2006, 12:55 AM   #25
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i've been meaning to get to this thread, and since i can't sleep right now, i think i'll jump in.

i was raised loosey-goosey, suburban Roman Catholic. my father came from an agnostic family, more or less, but my mother was raised very Catholic and went to Catholic schools from kindergarten all the way through college. we'd go to church when we could, though that stopped once our family got very, very busy with activities (swim meets, soccer games, etc.) we did always go to CCD, and i did get confirmed, and i feel comfortable in a Catholic church and know the prayers, responses, and it's amazing how whenever i go, it does feel nice, familiar, sometime even cozy. i remember really being into the religion when i was younger and taking time to pray the rosary under the covers or making special prayers to Mary and all sorts of things that i'm sure other Catholic kids can relate to. i think i took the religion much more seriously than my parents knew, and i remember being so interested because it came across as A Big Deal. this was God, and Jesus, and Mary, and gosh, who could be more important?

as a teenager, i became very politically minded and was (like most politically aware teens) quite liberal, so i'd use CCD as a forum to express my views (it was kind of like FYM ...) and announce that i was pro-choice, or i'd present alternate theories of Jesus, or ask annoying questions as to why the Holy Trinity of Father/Son/Holy Spirit wasn't really just polytheism in disguise. it was a this point that i became anti-organized religion (though i still got confirmed to make my mother happy), but really dug the spiritual side of things. Bono had a lot to do with this, actually, and i loved his thoughts on legitimate rebellion, how it was one thing to drive your car into a swimming pool, but to live life with a sense of purpose and religion and the idea that the shepherd could come in from the field smelling of sheep shit and look at the pharoh and say, "in the eyes of god, we are equal" was mind blowing to me. as i went into college and started down a fairly intellectual path, it almost seemed as if atheism was assumed (this was academia) and my way of rebellion was trying to unearth meaning and beauty from that which appeared to be barren, the whole child-born-in-the-shit-and-the-straw/looking-for-baby-jesus-under-the-trash. i fancied myself something of a mystic, and saw myself on a personal question not towards redemption or salvation, but maybe revelation, the idea of 2nd naivety.

then, i left college, explored much of the world, saw some real rural poverty, talked to lots of people, spent a lot of time with myself, lots of time thinking and reading and writing, and began to see the world with harder eyes, sort of tempered by experience and starting to come to terms with my own mortality. then i got a "media job" and i spent lots of time looking at very raw, very brutal, gut-wrenching footage from around the world (Palestinian ambulances, hospitals in the Congolese jungles, the aftermath of the Nairobi bombings) and i think this is what turned me to agnosticism. when we really break it down, it's all very, very ugly. and unfair. and bleak. and most people live lives of suffering and often horror and a very lucky few are genuinely happy. but then we all die, and when we die, we are turned into meat. we are meat. we are flesh and bone and that's really all we can know, and protestations to the contrary are simply speculation and wishful thinking. the important thing is to deal with what is, rather than what we want it to be, and the idea of religion as a narcotic just makes too much sense -- the absurdity of the human condition, of being born to die, is well-addressed by religion, and that's the bulk if its appeal, i think. it answers those questions that are too overwhelming, too terrifying, too primordial and lurking in deep, dark places in our nightmares. and that's where it comes from.

but, ultimately, we can't know. we can only know that we don't know. i don't have the certainty of the atheist. and i hope i'm wrong. i really do. but i doubt it.
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Old 07-24-2006, 01:46 AM   #26
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Reading through the stories in here, I'm struck by the fact that several who "converted" from nonbelief to belief recall having hostile or contemptuous attitudes towards religion previously, while some who "converted" in the opposite direction have memories of having a harsh and punitive version of religion forced down their throats. In both cases, I'd imagine there must have been some painful self-confrontations involved at the time of "conversion"--even if it's remembered now, from the happy vantage point of being confident in what you believe, as simply a necessary if difficult stage along the way.

I wonder what kind of effect these half-remembered voices in your own head from that time might have on how you hear others today who--rightly or wrongly--you think of as being "just where I once was." I know it's often very difficult for me now to listen to a very traditional Orthodox Jew talk about his or her beliefs without feeling fire rise in my throat. To some extent this just comes from intense intellectual and, I suppose, spiritual disagreement. But some of it's also a frantic forcing away of a long-defeated, but never really destroyed, part of me whose skeptical disapproval I had to listen to for years during one of the rawest and most vulnerable stages of my life. Although I don't--consciously--associate it with anyone besides myself, I really did come to loathe that voice.
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Old 07-24-2006, 02:55 AM   #27
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I wonder what kind of effect these half-remembered voices in your own head from that time might have on how you hear others today who--rightly or wrongly--you think of as being "just where I once was." I know it's often very difficult for me now to listen to a very traditional Orthodox Jew talk about his or her beliefs without feeling fire rise in my throat. To some extent this just comes from intense intellectual and, I suppose, spiritual disagreement. But some of it's also a frantic forcing away of a long-defeated, but never really destroyed, part of me whose skeptical disapproval I had to listen to for years during one of the rawest and most vulnerable stages of my life. Although I don't--consciously--associate it with anyone besides myself, I really did come to loathe that voice.
I think I know what you're getting at. For me, I find it a miracle that I am still a believer at all. My first experiences with religion were about as horrible as you can get. My dad knew the Bible better than anyone. . .he could quote scripture till the cows came home. And he lived a "righteous" life. He was also physcially abusive (and not in the angry, lost his temper way. He was very cold, very methodical, simply exercising his right as the "head of the house") and what I remember most of my early childhood with him until my parents thankfully divorced was always, always being afraid.

To this day, that image of God haunts me. When I hear people spewing Scripture, proclaiming righteousness, and showing a legalistic, harsh attitude, it's is literally traumatizing for me. And the irrational part of what bothers me is not that they are wrong and strong, but the horrifying thought: "What if they're right? What if their picture of God is true? After all they sound so certain with their many scriptures recited from memory?"

That's what I struggle with every single day, the voices that haunt me. So how does hearing people like that affect me today. On the surface I'm calm, but inside I'm screaming.
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Old 07-25-2006, 09:40 PM   #28
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To this day, that image of God haunts me. When I hear people spewing Scripture, proclaiming righteousness, and showing a legalistic, harsh attitude, it's is literally traumatizing for me. And the irrational part of what bothers me is not that they are wrong and strong, but the horrifying thought: "What if they're right? What if their picture of God is true? After all they sound so certain with their many scriptures recited from memory?"

That's what I struggle with every single day, the voices that haunt me. So how does hearing people like that affect me today. On the surface I'm calm, but inside I'm screaming.
I think too many people are using that philosphy to scare people into religion. That doesn't work. I know that they say you should fear God but it leads people away much more than it helps. I ran into many preachers who thought that this was the way that Chruches should be like.
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Old 07-26-2006, 03:17 PM   #29
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I think too many people are using that philosphy to scare people into religion. That doesn't work. I know that they say you should fear God but it leads people away much more than it helps. I ran into many preachers who thought that this was the way that Chruches should be like.
It is tough to balance the ideas of "condition" and "position."

Our position in Christ is secured once we accept Him by faith. However, our condition is a work in progress and pastors have the tough job of trying to enable and support our growth. Like any parent or teacher, we won't always like the method.

But is rare that the pastor or the church is the actual problem. The problem is almost always within us.
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Old 07-27-2006, 07:41 PM   #30
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It is tough to balance the ideas of "condition" and "position."

Our position in Christ is secured once we accept Him by faith. However, our condition is a work in progress and pastors have the tough job of trying to enable and support our growth. Like any parent or teacher, we won't always like the method.

But is rare that the pastor or the church is the actual problem. The problem is almost always within us.
Before I respond to this would you mind elaborating on this a little more? I'm not clear as to whether you're saying that the tough job of trying to enable and support our growth sometimes entails using fear? Or are you saying that sometimes pastors/the church make mistakes in their efforts to enable and support or growth? Or something else?

Also, are you saying that usually it's not the pastor or the church that uses fear? The problem of being afraid of God is within us?
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