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Author Archives: Amber Ellis

Does God Exist?

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This was my personal beliefs essay for my Christian Beliefs class. Pastor John Peckham teaches that class and hes amazing. Enjoy.

Does God exist?

I believe that God exists for two reasons. 1. I experienced him when I was young. 2. I see him in everyday things.

I was sitting in a church once, eleven or twelve, and the pastor was talking about the crucifixion. He starts to describe Jesus, the usual story. Him praying in the garden and the arrest, the trial by Pilate and being taken away toward the cross. By the time he gets to this point in the story, though, I have begun to visualize exactly what he’s saying. I am no longer in the church. I don’t see the pulpit or the preacher. My family is no longer sitting beside me in the pew.

I am in the crowd now, watching a man carry a cross down the Via Dolorosa. I hear the people yelling. The women crying around me, Jesus has just told them, “do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children.” I can feel people pushing me forward trying to get a better look. I can smell the soldiers in their leather and metal armor, sweat pouring down their faces as they try to push the crowd back. I am small and in the front; a good vantage point.

I see Jesus again. Struggling against the weight of the cross, lifting it onto his shoulders when he catches my look and stops for a moment. He looks at me, it seems, as if im the only one standing there. An expression that I cannot read then passes across his face and he says, decidedly, “i love you.” he recovers himself, remembers what he was doing before, drags the cross another step and turns around again. “i love you.” he says again. Another step and again and again. And every step until he gets to the bottom of the hill with the skull.

You maybe thinking, “ok so you had a daydream, big deal.” it was very real to me because I think it was God trying to make a point to me. First principle: I believe God loves me, deeply and truly, period.

Second principle: I don’t think that God can be put into a box. I believe that he manifests himself in various ways throughout various religions and society both religious and secular.

I believe that many great people other than the apostles and prophets that we read about in the bible experienced God and lived their lives to help others think and live consciously.  People like Socrates, Lao Tzu, Gandhi, various native tribes in North America. These were ordinary people outside of our religious tradition but whom i think lived their lives to find wisdom and truth.

I believe that if you spend your entire life walking towards truth (even if you cant accept the picture of God that religious, well meaning people are continually pushing at you) if you keep walking towards the light, you will eventually find God sitting there on a rock next to the end of the road. He will look at you and say “What took you so long?”

As with St. Augustine in his classic christian memoir, the Confessions, he says that it took him 30 years of asking questions and believing other things before he finally accepted Jesus Christ.

I believe that we are all born as blind men stumbling along looking for light. For me (and apparently St. Augustine also) its extremely difficult to believe the things Im told about God. There is so much pain and corruption, people doing horrible things to one another, neglect, heartache and people not living according to the good principles that they teach. Because of these things, there is darkness and I find it extremely hard to believe in what most people call light. I believe, thought, that for us blind people, God is still looking for us, still waiting for us and hopeing we wont give up on him.

I believe God manifests himself in nature. In the beauty and elegance of trees and flowers and animals. The human body’s intrinsic order. The fact that it is capable in all aspects to adapt and survive. The mind’s ability to recognize itself and think about thinking and imagine abstract situations and consequences. The fact that an unborn baby’s hands look like little mittens at first and then are sculpted into fingers; proving that God still molds us and makes us into who we are. That he wants to make us better. Mary Anne Evans (also known as George Eliot) said, “it is never too late to be who you might have been.”

I believe that we can see God in the power of love. The very fact that it is possible for one person to love another. As friends. As family. As members of a group, reaching for a common goal. As lovers. One human being to another. That we are free to choose how we will love and if we even want to or not. I believe this all demonstrates that God exists because God is love. He is the good that happens between two people.

Every day we have a million chances to be like God. I think to myself, what if most of those chances didn’t get wasted? “I said, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.’” (Psalm 82:6)

Maybe you don't see God in a church.

So maybe i don’t always see him in a church. In all the standing and the sitting and the metaphors and lingo. Maybe i never get the rituals and the fancy clothes. I believe God will be calling and searching for us still until tomorrow and forever.


The Comeback

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Last year in the fall there was a large tree growing next to the road. It was leaning slightly to one side with beautiful red and yellow leaves covering its branches. I took a picture of it for my photography class because of its smooth ivory bark. It embodied silent grace and was unlike any of the other trees on that street. It was the elegance of fall.

For several months after and all through the summer I had no reason to walk down that street on which this tree stood. In fact I’d forgotten all about it until one day, unexpectedly, I passed by and it was gone!

For whatever reason some ambitious human being had chopped it down, split it up and spirited away the pieces. They probably had assumed, even in all its glory, that they could just grow another one. “Yeah 60, 70 years from now, you wont even miss this old thing.”

This tree was beautiful and extremely unique. Uniqueness equals value, in my thinking. If you have something that’s unlike anything else you can ever get again, chances are you’ll want to keep it (I’m sure I’m leaving out several possible scenarios in this conclusion. Example: what if you didn’t want said prize in the first place.) or you’ll have a really good reason to get rid of it. Trees don’t just come a dime a dozen. You can’t plant and grow a forest in the next five years. Especially if you’re not making paper from its pieces, I’d think you’d would want to keep the trees that are around. (But then again I’m sentimental about things like trees and words and useless little gifts that do no one any good.)

This all sounds very much like Dr. Suess’ Lorax and maybe its just a tree, but my point is there are things that can’t be reversed or gathered back together or recreated. This is life and it keeps on going.

So what are you going to do? The tree is gone, vanished into thin air along with its leaves and any birds nests that may have been timidly constructed in its branches. You could sit on the stump if you like, pondering the finality of all things. Or you could wait for the comeback.

“There will be a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.” -Louis L’Amour

On Vegetarianism

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Tomorrow, October 1 is national vegetarian day. Every year, for three years in a row, I always forget this day (which is why Im only just now putting a post about it.). Vegetarians all over the country have an opportunity to say something positive about their way of life. I like to wear a t-shirt that Ive made with sharpies that says something like “hey, Im a vegetarian!” or “hug a vegan.”

One day out of the year, I get to represent because I love being a vegetarian. And maybe someone else will to. Id like the spread the word a little. Or better yet put vegetarianism in a better light than its had in the past. One misconception that comes to mind: I do not love animals more than people, I just don’t eat them. I do not condemn others for eating animals. People have been eating animals and living healthy lives for years. I say, why stop now?

And then there are others who maybe should have a change of diet for health reasons or else. I think October 1 is a good day to remind those individuals that its not all bad. Your not giving up half of your life by choosing to opt out of meat. There are always choices and ways to improve your quality of life and if this is one of those, cheer up, it not just dubious looking casseroles from here on out.

And to all those who have thought themselves above another person because of vegetarianism: first of all, your just making us all look bad. Second, vegetarianism has little to do with your spirituality. October 1 is a day to maybe look deeper and find a better reason. Unless you, like Gandhi, honestly believe that killing animals is wrong, don’t let little things like food mess with your psyche or your conscience.

So pick a day. Tell the world a little bit about yourself by representation. If you happen to be a vegetarian, do it tomorrow with a t-shirt.

Notes on Photography

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“Photography is an art of observation. Its about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”- Elliott Erwitt

Now that I’m a Comm. major I take a digital photography class. Yesterdays lecture was by a man named Darren Huski, a landscape photographer who shoots national parks. He brought to class some truly inspiring pieces and taught us the MILT principal of photography. Mindset, Inspiration (maybe? I don’t remember what the “i” stands for.) Location and Technique. The idea that really stuck with me was, to get a good picture you need good light.

So our next assignment is Nature. And I decided id put a good foot forward and go shooting in the morning when the light is good for a little inspiration.

“6:30 early enough?”

“Sure, that’ll be just fine. Thank you.”

And sure enough early this morning, at 6:30, the sun was just peaking over the horizon. It was really really early for me but “you should have seen that sunrise. It brought me back to life.” (-John Mayer) Of course I didn’t get out until 7:10 and now I know what they mean when they say “your burning daylight!” I was absolutely certain that Id missed the one truly perfectly sunlit photograph of the day but I went anyway.

Where is the most obvious location on campus besides the Rotunda? Yes, dear reader from Southwestern, to the duck pond I went. And for an amateur like me it has everything. Some water, green grass, a few ducks sprinkled on top and a beautiful morning sun. What more could I ask?

At first I was hesitant. What should I photograph first? These ducks? Those ducks? A tree? In the end it was all of the above. And some geese. And a spiderweb. And Basidiomycota. (In the right light, even a mushroom can look like a flower.) And I couldn’t bare to leave though my shoes were wet and the mosquitoes were eating me alive.


Hello world!

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Wow. first blog. what to write? i feel like i am stepping on to a new planet: the world of near-journalism i suppose. what will i encounter? we will see as i get the hang of this.