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What We Discard

July 29, 2014

What we discard can say as much about us as what we carry. Sometime in the fall of 1980, I found an abandoned church in rural central Indiana. It caught my eye because this obviously derelict building stood alone with cultivated land all around it–except for the dirt trail that led to the site. There were no visible remains of other buildings like a parsonage, no broken sidewalks, not an abandoned cemetery. Nothing but cultivated farmland around it. Why was this tiny patch of ground not plowed under? How long had this building stood unused? Inside were the leftovers of what must have been an active, indeed vibrant community of believers. Leftover hymnals, the fans used in the humid Indiana summer heat (with the obligatory funeral home advertisement on them) the long unused coffee pot in the back. What happened to these people? Did the community outgrow this humble building and now were worshiping in bigger and brighter surroundings? Or did they just die or drift away? Were they…raptured? Many questions–no answers. The only thing I know is that whatever was here is now gone and only this sad artifact remained. I now carry  photographs of what they discarded.

Empty Pews #1

Empty Pews Central Indiana 1980


Empty Pews #2

Empty Pews Central Indiana 1980

How the images were made: Camera: Hasselblad 500 C/M Lens: Zeiss 50mm Film Pan-X 125 Exposure not recorded although it was a pretty small aperture given the depth of field. The exposure time must have been between three and five minutes because I illuminated the open doors and  windows by running around the outside the church with a hand held flash while the shutter was open.


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