Musings from the Field: The Joy of Different Lenses

Every once and a while Presbytery Leader Ryan Landino will share reflections inspired by partnership and accompaniment with the ministries of the presbytery and what we are all experiencing in the news. May we feed each other hope, joy, and inspiration!


I have always had an interest in film—I love the choices filmmakers, directors, and editors make in order to bring viewers deeper into a compelling story.


Here are three of my favorites:

E.T. 1982 Director Steven Spielberg filming from E.T's perspective on Halloween. : r/Moviesinthemaking

  • In the classic film ET: the Extra-terrestrial (1982) Director Steven Spielberg decided to only position the camera at waist height the entire film, so we can actually experience the story through the children’s eyes!
  • In the Best Picture Oscar winning “The Shape of Water” (2017), Director Guillermo Del Toro uses long tracking shots, slowly zooming in and zooming out, the camera never being still, for EVERY shot in the film, giving the viewer the feeling of drifting on water currents!
  • In the World War I film “1917” (2019), Director Sam Mendes filmed it in such a way that it looks like one long, continuous scene—no cuts, no seams—all to give the sense of peril and exhaustion for the single focused, arduous mission the main characters are on!


Each of these artful examples–and so many other smaller less noticeable examples–all remind us of the power that taking on different lens so we can experience the world from a perspective not our own.


The lenses around us include so much that has shaped us as unique individuals:

Where and how we grew up,

The jobs we’ve worked,

What we learned from our parents,

(What we DIDN’T learn from our parents),

What warnings our scars have taught us,

What cultures have shaped us,

What historical events shaped us at which critical developmental phases of our lives,

What resources have been available for our communities,

What resources for strength and wisdom we’ve discovered for our selves,

What bodies we inhabit and how others relate to them,

How we relate to our OWN bodies,

How we love,

How we receive love,

How we have experienced the church at its best,

How we have experienced the church at its least best,

How we have experienced God at our highest awareness.

Each is a lens that makes up the beautiful, messy, holy myriad of combinations in you, that in turn goes on to make up the beautiful, messy, holy myriad of combinations we call beloved community.


The church strives to create loving and beloved community. Every time a church declares “You are welcome here” you claim that you can carry your lenses safely into your space. And we have the advantage of being able to experience a larger world because we have so much Scripture that helps us bless the multitude of lenses around us, so many different from our own, if only we embrace one another with wonder, empathy, and humility.


At the same time, when I think of how fragile camera lenses are, how easy they are to shatter when we drop them, it reminds me how easy it is to shatter someone’s value in their own story, or even think little on the dignity within your own story! Beloved community should also be that place where we present our broken selves and the brokenness of our world before God to seek restoration and repair.


The church should be the place for that work, where we honor God’s creation in each of us.

Friends, let’s not leave it to the movies and Academy Awards to celebrate the different lenses amongst us.

May the church bless all the colors on every of spectrum of light and life that helps us see the world in all its fullness.

Let’s embrace each other now.

Let’s love one another now.



Rev. Ryan J. Landino
Presbytery Leader
Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy


  • Posted May 8, 2024 9:27 am
    Diane McCullough

    Amen, Ryan. Well said. It is a blessing to be part of this commitment to this Beloved Community.

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