Tag Archives: photographic negative

In His Image (Subtitle: I think God must be a photographer.)

Last night a friend and I were discussing our beliefs, and we agreed that it’s important to be a good person. But I think we need to stretch that further to treating others like they are good people, which led to the question of whether a person’s disagreeable actions can change your relationship with them. And I suppose it may change how (or even if) you interact with them, but it doesn’t change their inherent goodness because that is not based on my judgment. So where does that come from?

Genesis 1:31 – God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

We started with this passage in church today. The story of the Bible starts with goodness, not sin or punishment or even salvation, which suggests lostness. Very good: this is the expectation to which we are truly called to live. But when we’re told that we’re bad before (or instead of) good, it exacerbates the innate sense of something missing, of falling short. To believe that creation is inherently good restores hope that things are not supposed to be as horrible and broken as they are. In my darkest moments in the past year, that was the only grain of faith left to me, that the terrible feelings were not the rule.

Genesis 1:27 – So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

I was always taught that this verse meant that we have to work to be fuzzy little versions of God, which really seems to run counter to my general experience of reality. But then I got to thinking about how a photographic image is produced, and maybe that makes a little more sense. (Hang on to your hats, metametametaphor!) A camera works by capturing light on either a piece of film or on a digital image sensor. The amount of light hitting the film determines how light or dark that exposure is. So the image of God is not something we must strive to achieve, but it is something we receive simply by being in His presence. After all, John 1:4 says about Christ, “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.”(My photography site’s tagline of ‘Light. Life. Love.’ suddenly means so much more than I ever knew, and that makes me exceedingly happy.) Interestingly enough, the image on film is actually a negative, which then gets inverted during printing…so maybe the world looks terrible right now compared to the searing brightness of God, but eventually it’ll be made right. [/metaphor-a-saurus]

Thinking back to the discussion last night, the question arose of how you treat someone who is making choices with which you disagree. It may seem like they are not capturing the image of God. But maybe they are doing so in ways that you are not. This made me think about channels in digital photography. (Obviously this new kick of mine is taking over my brain.)

A digital image is made of three colors: red, green, and blue. Without getting into the technical aspects that I don’t understand a whole lot, it is the combination of these three colors that gives us all the other colors we see. But you can isolate or filter out specific channels, and what you are left with looks different depending on which channel you’ve chosen. The resulting images look different, but they are all part of the same original image.

The more I go through life, the more I realize that I really don’t have all the answers. And so I’ve made it my goal to learn as much from others as possible, even if I don’t eventually end up subscribing wholesale to what any one person says. I’m convinced that is the only way I can get the biggest possible picture, and be at once more human and more godly.

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