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Honoring Christ In Photography-Day 3

The idea of transposition is a photography term, but is helpful for us in how to see the world God has made when we apply it in the manner of the great Christian philosopher C.S. Lewis.  This way of perceiving the world—which photography and any form of art can help us understand—came to him one day when he came upon a toolshed in the woods.  He describes the occurrence;

“I was standing today in the dark toolshed. The sun was shining outside and through the crack at the top of the door there came a sunbeam. From where I stood that beam of light, with the specks of dust floating in it, was the most striking thing in the place. Everything else was almost pitch-black. I was seeing the beam, not seeing things by it. Then I moved so that the beam fell on my eyes. Instantly the whole previous picture vanished. I saw no toolshed, and (above all) no beam. Instead I saw, framed in the irregular cranny at the top of the door, green leaves moving on the branches of a tree outside and beyond that, 90 odd million miles away, the sun. Looking along the beam, and looking at the beam are very different experiences.”[1].

C.S. realized that everything in all of creation is but a shadow.  It can only offer a taste of the real thing that it points to.  In The Weight of Glory he says, “The suns and lamps in pictures seem to shine only because real suns or lamps using on them; that is, they seem to shine a heat deal because they really shine a little in reflecting their archetypes.”[2] What this implies is that everything in creation—trees, rivers, mountains, animals, and even human beings themselves—are reflections of something greater.  The created world is not to be looked at in order to define and find reality, but it is to be looked along.

John Piper says, “So we can say that when we ‘look along’ the heavens and not just‘at’ the heavens, they succeed in their aim of ‘declaring the glory of God.’ That is, we see the glory of God, not just the glory of the heavens. We don’t just stand outside and analyze the natural world as a beam, but we let the beam fall on the eyes of our heart, so that we see the source of the beauty—the original Beauty, God himself.  This is the essential key to unlocking the proper use of the physical world of sensation for spiritual purposes. All of God’s creation becomes a beam to be ‘looked along’ or a sound to be ‘heard along’ or a fragrance to be ‘smelled along’ or a flavor to be ‘tasted along’ or a touch to be ‘felt along.”[3]

All of creation becomes our oyster for creativity and theological inquiry.  Photography is but one transposition that we can look “along” in order to see the reality of God behind, among, and involved in what he has made. Learning to take photos that capture this beauty is every Christian’s calling.

In today's Scriptures consider the images used to convey heavenly realities. The Bible is full of symbols that we can look alongin order to understand God. Photography helps us understand how to read the Bible through its imagery and symbol.

*For further reading in the Bible: Amos 5:24; Psalm 36:5 - 36:9

Accompanying this study is over 300-Hours of video footage from 150 of today's top Christian thinkers on culture, creativity, innovation, and invention at www.makejesusculture.com andwww.gardencityproject.com. We aim to help churches develop grass roots culture formation for their contexts. Go now!

[1] C.S. Lewis, “Meditations in a Toolshed,” in God in the Dock (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970), 212.

[2] C.S. Lewis The Weight of Glory, pg. 82

[3] John Piper, Alive to Wonder; Celebrating the Influence of C.S. Lewis (Minneapolis: Desiring God, 2013), 40.