Photography

Regal Lion-watermark

I might have a slight habit of talking about photography at every opportunity. That’s because (if you haven’t already worked it out) I LOVE IT. I’m currently building up a body of work, whenever I get a chance and doing the odd formal event. I do however have to confess that taking photos at the zoo is the thing I love the most. There is something about getting the chance to wander around a zoo and take photos of some exotic animals. I would love to see some of these creatures in the wild but short of someone taking pity on me, I don’t think I’d be able to justify doing it.

I’ve told a few people that there are photos on the website, so I thought I had better post some, and a few links where you can see them at a decent size.

I have been a member of deviantART for quite a few years now, and to be honest I don’t think that many people look at it unless you spend ages online and making friends. Until recently I didn’t spend much time on the internet, but starting a website and joining Twitter has changed that. I am making more of an effort!

http://sinister-ribena.deviantart.com/art/Baby-Elephant-Shower-392753070

http://sinister-ribena.deviantart.com/art/Sadie-363828617

I love odd looking creatures, that nobody can quite work out, or haven’t even heard of. Like the Okapi, a creature you can’t quite believe is really real.

Bright-eyed-watermark

Another creature I adore is the red panda, and it is not really a panda (sorry)

‘The red panda has given scientists taxonomic fits. It has been classified as a relative of the giant panda, and also of the raccoon, with which it shares a ringed tail. Currently, red pandas are considered members of their own unique family—the Ailuridae.’

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/red-panda/

How Tasty-watermarkLookout-watermarkOn the up-watermark

These photos are all the more special because it took so many visits to different zoos that I had begun to think that the red panda did not exist and the zoos had just kept the enclosures empty. I have since seen a playful side to what I thought was a shy creature, and some of them enjoy having their picture taken.

Well I hope these shots give you a flavour of my passion for photography.

 

Lovingkindness

One of the difficulties in translating scripture, is that there are certain words or phrases in the original languages of Hebrew and Greek that do not have a direct translation into English, or many other modern languages. Hebrew is especially guilty of this having numerous words that translate more naturally into concepts than a direct word-to-word equivalent.  The most common of these is the word selah, which pops up throughout the book of Psalms.  There is no effective direct translation of selah into English, so we have to make do with the concept of a musical interlude, with an asterisk next to it and the comment in the footnotes “The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain”. Personally I choose to translate selah as the point that the face-melting electric guitar solo kicks in, and until someone provides me with undeniable proof that I’m wrong, I’ll continue believing that.

Another word that appears frequently, especially in the psalms is the Hebrew word hesed, which the New King James Version translates as the word lovingkindness (all one word, or hyphenated, to differentiate it from plain and simple old loving kindness).  The Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew, that many Bibles are then translated to English from) renders this word as mercy, most translations choose to render it as steadfast love, or just simply love.

Lovingkindness, steadfast love, mercy, love.  All are reasonable translations, yet they miss some of the power and majesty of the word.  There are three aspects of the word hesed, which for any true understanding of the word need to be held together instead of separate. These are “Strength”, “steadfastness”, and “love”.  The word love alone, especially in the modern contexts we use (or possibly misuse) the word can be too easily sentimentalised, or lessened and separated from the whole.

“[hesed] refers primarily to mutual and reciprocal rights and obligations between the parties of a relationship (especially Yahweh and Israel).  But hesed is not only a matter of obligation; it is also of generosity.  It is not only a matter of loyalty, but also of mercy.  The weaker party seeks the protection and blessing of the patron and protector, but he may not lay absolute claim to it.  The stronger party remains committed to his promise, but retains his freedom, especially with regard to the manner in which he will implement his promises.  Hesed implies personal involvement and commitment in a relationship beyond the rule of law.”
(Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary; 1996; pg142)

Look at the above quote, it’s an extract from a two page long summary of the definition of the word hesed.  Just in this paragraph we see multiple words that we could draw out as a translation, loyalty, promise, rights and obligations.  Hesed is not, in any way a simple concept to translate or understand.  But a vital one to understand the character of God.  Hesed, that lovingkindness, the steadfast love and mercy of God is one of the most central characteristics of our God.  It is because of his lovingkindness, that he never totally abandoned Israel his covenant people.  It is because of the hesed of God, that we can approach his throne, knowing that he is committed to us, even when our own commitment can wax and wane with the seasons and situations.

Psalm 136 is probably one of the most famous and well known Psalms, if you don’t know which one it is by the number, it’s the one with the refrain “His love endures forever”  and that’s how most of us know it, as below in the first 9 verses in the NIV.

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
4 to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
5 who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.
6 who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.
7 who made the great lights—
His love endures forever.
8 the sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.
9 the moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.

Yet it is again the word hesed that is used here, not the word for love, but hesed.  The NKJV translates the refrain as “His mercy endures forever”, the ESV as “His steadfast love endures forever” the NLT “His faithful love endures forever” and Peterson in his Message translation  goes for “His love never quits”.  All are suitable translations, but none really cover the full value of the word.  Hesed describes the love God has with his covenant people, Israel, and then in New Testament times and forward, His bride the Church.  This is not about God’s love or providence for all creatures, this word, this phrase, this concept describes God’s love, promise, and faithfulness to his people, to those that are His.

Thus hesed gives hope to us in two ways, far more than just the word love could.  God’s lovingkindness, as seen by the definition above, allows God the freedom to implement that love, that steadfastness, that mercy in whichever way he chooses, and at whatever time he chooses.  Our God is a creative God, one that doesn’t conform to doing things the way we think, or believe He should do them, He does them in his own time and own way.  This is incredibly frustrating at times, yet also should give us hope.  For if we, in our frail humanness can not see a way out of a situation.  If we can not see a solution to our problems, we can trust in our faithful, steadfast ever-loving, ever true God that he, in his lovingkindness, not only can see the solution, but that he will enact it in his own perfect timing.  Secondly  we see that as part of the term hesed, the protector, in this case God, remains committed to his promise, it is a matter of loyalty.  Therefore however far we run, however hard we try to escape God’s lovingkindness, as soon as we turn around as soon as we once again look to him, there he stands, ready to fulfil his end of the bargain.

The New Testament is translated mainly from Greek and Aramaic, so the word hesed doesn’t particularly occur.  However there is a parallel, a word that we are used to in this language, that again describes the relationship between fallen man, and saviour God.

Grace, unremitting, unbound, pure, glorious favour given by God to man, though we don’t deserve it.  Because of God’s hesed, that integral part of his character he sent his son Jesus Christ to save us from our sins.  It wasn’t the way we would have done it, but God has freedom to do things his way, and through doing it his way, blow us all away with his pure lovingkindness.