Are We Pharisees?

The Pharisees, the religious leaders in the New Testament that Jesus was so critical of, were making it hard or impossible for anyone else to reach their level. They were setting high and artificial standards with an emphasis on the external and superficial rather than heart and motivation and love. They were setting themselves up as the teachers, the owners of truth. They were protecting their position, feeling threatened and making it difficult for anyone else, so they could claim and feel superiority.

We don’t do that. Do we?

It’s now so easy to set ourselves up as teachers, even when we’re still really learning some of the basics. And tell a newcomer that they’re getting it all wrong.

It’s easy to use terminology that an ‘outsider’ won’t understand because it makes us feel more part of the club.

It’s easy to ‘give back’ by hosting workshops and tell people how to create something the way we do, rather than helping them find and follow their own vision.

It’s easy to deny a young photographer from early success by assuming they should have years of experience to succeed rather than appreciating their new ideas.

Envy is so often the problem.

What if we were willing to celebrate what someone else makes, as if we’d made it? Because isn’t that what matters - that the thing was made rather than who made it?


“Wouldn’t you like to be the skater who wins the silver, and yet is thrilled about those three triple jumps that the gold medal winner did? To love it the way you love a sunrise? Just to love the fact that it was done? For it not to matter whether it was their success or your success. Not to care if they did it or you did it. You are as happy that they did it as if you had done it yourself – because you are just so happy to see it. “

Tim Keller (The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness)


(By the way, Ralph Gibson gave an excellent talk on ‘Leica Conversations’ yesterday. I don’t think the recording is on YouTube yet but it’s well worth watching when it appears).



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Headshot, portrait, street and documentary photographer in NYC and Jersey City

alastair.arthur@gmail.com

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