Update: Downtown Lima Church Demolition

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South view of the church in March 2019

Back in March, I wrote a post about an imminent downtown church demolition. Today I revisited this site and took some more pictures. I’m not sure why the rubble is still there. While I cannot confirm this rumor, I heard that the debris was meant to linger for a while to give people a chance to retrieve mementos from the site. The building was in such a precarious state when it was slated for demolition that no one could go inside to rescue anything valuable that remained in the building. According to a local news story, the building had not hosted a congregation since July of 2017.

At the demolition site today, there was a cryptic, hand-painted sign which read “Thank You” and listed a mobile telephone number. Thanks for what? I blurred out some of the digits of that phone number because it is likely someone’s personal number.

I’m tempted to call that number and discover the reason behind the sign, but I’m the shy sort who lets some things remain a mystery. Years ago, there was a local business whose marquee sign proclaimed, “I will never understand such hate.” I was very curious why a business would devote their prime advertising space to such a message, but I did not find out what incident inspired it. To this day, when I see news stories about hate, I think of that marquee sign.

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Lima, Ohio in the Year 2000

I have bittersweet feelings in looking at these photos. I was 27 to 28 years old and lived in a fantasy land that made me bold enough to take the sort of pictures that no one else was taking at that time. My aesthetic for urban photography was born then, and the heart of it hasn’t changed much over the years. I don’t do enough of it now.

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My photo archiving project continues. I decided to make albums of some of the photos on my Facebook page. The images for this blog posts are screen shots of an album that features photos I took in Lima in the year 2000. Back then I used one of the Sony Mavica cameras that recorded images onto floppy discs. I could fit just 10 images per disc, so I had to carry a baggy full of a dozen discs to make it through a photo walk.

Alas, I don’t have the originals files of these photos. All I have now are online copies, and the website where I uploaded them 19 years ago only has 500×375 or smaller versions of the images. I know that some of the photos had an original resolution of 1024×768 (if I felt bold enough to just take five pics per disc!). Lesson learned: back up photos in multiple ways. Burn them on discs or put them on a portable hard drive. Then back the most important ones up online, in more than one place.

I have bittersweet feelings in looking at these photos. I was 27 to 28 years old and lived in a fantasy land that made me bold enough to take the sort of pictures that no one else was taking at that time. My aesthetic for urban photography was born then, and the heart of it hasn’t changed much over the years. I don’t do enough of it now.

By the way, I’d be delighted if you followed me on Facebook. It has unlimited bandwidth for photos, and who knows what photo albums I may make from my archives.

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How to manage all the digital photos?

Does anyone have any tips for archiving digital photos? My back catalog of digital photos stretches back to the year 2000. Over those 19 years, I’ve taken around 38,000 photos. I have almost all of them backed up online on Flickr, but that company was recently bought out by another one. In the aftermath of that merger, the price of unlimited storage there rose steeply. It’s not that I can’t afford their prices, but it has made me mindful that I do need to download all the photos worth keeping and think of a long term storage strategy.

As I’ve been going through the oldest of these photos, I’m stunned at the tiny resolution of the first digital camera I used, one of the Sony Mavica cameras that stored pictures on floppy discs! I so wish the photo below was available in a larger format, but 500×375 pixels was its full resolution:

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Asphalt Siding

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This morning I lingered long enough waiting for a train to take the above picture with my phone. The house is the lone survivor of several demolitions on that block, and the number of homes with asphalt siding in Lima is dwindling.

I lived in a home with asphalt siding for several years while I was growing up. Spotting a similar house this morning somehow reminded me of something my mom once told me about ghosts. She said what may seem to be ghosts may actually be impressions left by people who are living. I myself believe that God allows us to see anything he feels we need to know, and it is possible that in his wisdom he may show us images of the living or the dead.

If our old house were haunted by our living selves, someone would see us as we were back in the mid-80’s. My hair would be bleached from a summer in the city pool, and the home perm I’d gotten on top of it would have accidentally given me Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” hairdo. Likewise, my sister would be studying the fallout from her home perm and wondering how soon she could rid herself of Barbara Streisand’s look from A Star is Born. My brother would be watching He-Man while my mom wondered how we were going to survive the rubber plant strike. My dad would be standing at the fridge, eating peanut butter straight from the jar. His cuticles and eyelashes would still be stained black from his work in that factory. My mom would be wearing the navy blue dotted shirt she wore most days for a whole year.

If I had the chance to see an echo of that scene, I’d know all over again that those were the days that made me. I’m happy with a working class job. No matter how many shirts I own, I usually end up rotating just a few of them until they wear out. I’m grateful that my growing up taught me that less can be more.

Jamais Vu

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Winter has returned for a brief encore, offering me a bit more time to mull over what has been a huge change in my life: my return to church.

The first thing I’d like to mention is a matter that has distressed me several times since my return to church. I don’t like the “Christian right” stereotype which implies that Christians are Republicans by default. There is no political party that conforms to the gospel. Although I’ve renewed my faith lately, I have been a Christian since the 1970s, and I continue to be mystified at how Christians can be exposed to the same text (i.e. the Bible) and develop such different political values. I’ve noticed that the Bible mentions caring for the poor so often that I can’t in good conscience for a candidate that wants to cut programs for the needy. I also don’t buy the idea that helping the poor creates poverty.

Onto why I titled my post Jamais Vu . . . Now I am going to approach my faith from the opposite of the idea of being a Christian for decades. I encountered the concept of jamais vu in the writing of the late neurologist Oliver Sacks. Jamais vu is the opposite of déjà vu, and it is the experience of seeing something familiar as if you’ve never seen it before. Since I started reading the Bible again in December, I have approached the text with purposeful jamais vu: I am going to read this book as if everything is new to me. I’ve discovered that there is precious fruit of the Spirit to be gleaned from this approach. It reminds me of how Christ said in faith we must become like children (Matthew 18:33). The word of God never loses its freshness or vitality; only our ways of reading and hearing it can become stale.

As for the picture I’ve used for this post, it reminds me that it is much harder to suspend one’s familiarity with the physical world. No matter how hard I try, my mind can’t make the buildings in that picture look like something I haven’t seen before.

I feel a consolation beyond description in reading the Bible as if it is new to me, for it would be impossible for someone to read it enough to make it old news. As I read the words of the Bible, it is like the Holy Spirit fills me with the complete opposite of the pain and despair I’ve felt in the past.

Glass Palace, 2017

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This evening I share a photo I took last summer in downtown Lima. If you live in Lima, the downtown area is somewhat of a photographic cliché, a rite of passage that signifies that the hobby has become part of your identity. I really should take a new set of pictures because the downtown area is the midst of transition. One of the key buildings is getting carved into apartments, and Rhodes State will break ground on a new health sciences building very soon.

The photo above shows a reflection of Town Square in the Glass Palace, a ruthlessly geometric building that houses many of the city government’s offices. It’s an image that insists that the old cannot compete with the new. The unsteady lines of the reflected buildings remind me of an untrained hand trying to copy a master.

Before I close, I will tell you about an oddball rendition of a text message I received yesterday. As I was parking my car, I received a text message from my pharmacy. I choose to let the car read the message aloud. Its synthetic voice told me, “Your prescription that starts with Georgia is ready for pick up.”

That sounds like a hallucinogen or a sci-fi writing prompt.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rounded

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A liquid can assume the shape of any vessel in which it is stored, and this reservoir has curved borders since it would be strange indeed to find a reservoir with angled corners. I suppose a polygonal shape would be too weak to withstand the pressure that water exerts. And now I remember learning that a circle is a polygon with infinite sides, so a rounded corner could distribute the pressure and mass of water over more pressure points that can be easily counted.

All of the foregoing is a stream-of-consciousness related to my school days. The image above shows a place I gravitated toward during that era of my life. I’d go to this reservoir to walk alone and clear my mind, which was not so easy to do at that time given all of the angst and information that was stuffed into it during my teenage days.

I’d dream of what my life might be like once I was done with school. I’d imagine living in one of those apartments in that building with a view of the water. I’d have peace at a glance when I looked through the windows.

Eventually, I did move into an apartment with a balcony that overlooked a little lake (but not the one shown in this picture). I did feel peace when I looked out the windows. I lived there until my life became too large to fit in a two-bedroom apartment.

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