what is god for you?
what is god for you?
mig. in the video you were asked what god is for you. is there something you wish to add?
ar. no, there's nothing i wish to add.
smgr. yes, i think that being asked what god is to me triggered a lot of thought.
having to put what i believe into words has made it more concrete to me. it’s not all that often that one is asked this kind of question. i actually found answering the question much more challenging than posing for the portrait semi-naked. i felt divulging my beliefs to be far more intimate. in the video response i said that i am more or less sure that god exists but i am not sure about jesus. but the more i think about this the more i am convinced that he did exist. it is horrible because i feel almost ashamed to believe in him. i feel that his name carries some really bad connotations, that i can’t help thinking of the religious right. but the jesus that i believe in is a very pared-down version. i think you can only ever look at his words directly. and his actions. the fact that he was close to the suffering, to those who were judged by society at the time, and that he was not impressed by dogmatic self-righteous ‘religious’ types. i really do think that his message has been lost in translation. i have come to realise that the most inspiring person to me in terms of this is the man who built salvation mountain. he has built this beautiful structure and there is no sense of haughtiness or of damning people. his message is one of love.
mig. is the word god controversial for you? if yes why?
arr. yes, people who try and force their beliefs down people’s throats can give god a bad name.
ar. i suppose it is a little. i think it’s because i have trouble using the word for my own purposes without being conscious of its divergent uses. this doesn’t usually prevent me from using it though.
smgr. it is something subjective and thus open to interpretation.
mig. do you think of religion when you hear the word god? if yes, why?
arr. not necessarily, i would prefer spirituality.
ar. not automatically, no. it really depends on the words around the word. and i can hear the word religion without necessarily thinking of god.
smgr. no, i don’t. the word religion makes me think of tradition. and of humans and their self-important rituals. the things that they do and cling to just to feel ok. when i think of god i think of something ephemeral. a great paradox: something that is just out of reach and yet makes its presence seen constantly. the word ‘god’ most makes me picture the natural world. because i think that it is like looking at the works of an artist when you look at a chameleon or coral or a watermelon or an oak or a glacier. a sort of elusive artist. you’ve never seen their face, they never give interviews but you have a fair idea of how s/he thinks because you know and love their work through and through.
mig. do you believe everything happens for a reason, or are we the reason why things happen?
arr. there are many different reasons why things happen. the important thing is our attitude to what happens.
ar. i don’t feel that these are opposing notions. i believe that our actions matter, as do the intentions that shape them. i also believe in the part mystery plays in our lives and the importance of leaving space for it.
smgr. i think that it is a combination of the two. very much a fifty-fifty situation. i have often felt that a certain event or ‘chance’ encounter has been pivotal to the course of my life. but i do believe that attitude is very important. that we have the power to change both ourselves, and the things around us. we are not victims of our circumstances.
mig. define love. what does love mean for you?
arr. caring for another and wanting to develop to their fullest potential. can’t go past levithicus 13.
ar. i think there are different types of love but the one that moves me most is the kind that desires the happiness of others without seeking anything more in return.
smgr. i grew up as a church-going catholic. my mum had 1 corinthians framed on the wall. what can i say, it stuck with me!
love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous;
love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly;
it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
love never fails.
mig. do you think love is something all life forms share?
ar. i don’t know but i’m inclined to think so. sometimes it seems that other life forms are more practised in the ways of love than us.
smgr. yes. i think tolstoy is better at expressing this than i am:
love is life. all, everything that i understand, i understand only because i love. everything is, everything exists, only because i love. everything is united by it alone.
mig. what in your opinion can make a relationship last a whole lifetime?
arr. commitment and respect for each other.
ar. a desire to learn how to love with a willingness to understand and openness to change. i think one person contains infinite possibilities and we need to remember that when we begin to feel as if we 'know' someone.
mig. what have you learned about life so far?
ar. the impermanence of things.
smgr. that we know relatively nothing. science can only go so far. that we are miniscule. that when you look at the timeframe of the earth, our time here is a nanosecond in comparison to the whole. we are basically insignificant. but i do believe our actions are recorded somewhere. that once all this has passed, only our actions will remain.
mig. how would you describe us/humanity today?
arr. on a world scale a mess. but there are always signs of hope among individuals.
ar. it’s difficult to speak about us in general but i think many of us have lost touch with was is essential to our well-being, as individuals and as communities. i feel as though we are out of rhythm. i think that we are on the verge of great change; we need to imagine new ways of living outside of the existing systems.
smgr. humanity today is in grave need of all things spiritual. unbridled greed is not the answer. i think we are in a society on the edge of decline. but that it is not so far gone that it is irretrievable. there is hope.
thank you angela rosemary rice, anna rice & stella marie gabrielle rice for participating in the 'mig' project.
videography by mig. all rights reserved 2014.
photography by mig. all rights reserved 2014.
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