Dear Viewer,
My name is Lane Childers and I am always aware of the barage of evil things attacking me in the world. One of my passions is my religion. I seek to live for my God and serve and obey him in everything I do. In that process, the devil makes his best attempts to lead me away from that path and tempt me with the pleasures of the world. Life is a constant battle with evil for a saved Christian but we're not the only ones who deal with it. Every person in existence is faced with evil at one point or another. While I hold that each person defines evil in their own way, it is also my personal belief that in the end of times, only God can really say what is and isn't evil. I will also hold that the only hope of any person is found in Jesus Christ, the son of God. I take that into account in the rest of this letter. You may, might, and are allowed to disagree with me.

Each person who is faced with evil also chooses to define it in a different way. Personal experience, beliefs, and culture have a great affect on how a person defines what evil is. One person may consider drinking to be evil while to another it is harmless entertainment. One person can not define for another what evil is. Some people, in the life process of defining evil, become engulfed by it's enormity and are lost. Hope is the single force that is capable of keeping a person out of such a place. For me, evil is anything that has an adverse affect on my personal relationship with God. My only hope, the thing that keeps me going, is the knowledge that Jesus Christ died on the cross to save me from the very evil I'm fighting. Part of my philosophy is also that, while everyone defines evil differently, it is ultimately judged by God. Not everyone believes this but to me, and eventually to all, it is fact. Every person will define these things in a different way and that will affect their battle with evil. Likewise, each person will find hope in different places and will be affected by it in different way.

The Crucible, by Aurthur Miller is filled with these ideas. Some of the villagers see the witches as the evil that permeates Salem. Others see the entire idea of the trials to be evil. Mr. Hale demonstrates how one's view on either evil or hope is subject to change based on circumstances. Throughout the story his views change drastically as he comes to view human nature, and the church itself as evil. Mr. Hale however is engulfed by the evil and is unable to stand up against it. Proctor is able to understand what evil is going on and use his hope to make a decision. While the decision he makes seems like a hopeless one it is truly a demonstration of inward strenght. His hope is the justness of his God. Every character shows their ideas on evil and on hope at one time or another in the story.

The Crucible is also widely accepted as a metaphor for the fear instilled during the McCarthy era. The people of that time demonstrated that fear can be a hope-absorbing evil. Some were engulfed in the fear, begininning to see communists everywhere and believing everything the Senator said. Others are symbolized by Proctor in their inability to accept the equivocalities. They believed that the evil was in the fear being spread. On the opposite end of the spectrum lies McCarthy. His view of evil is clouded by his thirst for power and influence. He may be construed as the various magistrates of Salem. McCarthyism captures the fully human side of this philosophy.

Evil is also a recurrent theme in Gothic literature. It uses the uncanny to highlight and exentuate that which the author sees as evil. Also, a large idea of Dark Romanticism is finding evil within oneself. This supports the theory that human nature is evil. Edgar Allen Poe and other authors use Dopplegangers and symbols to denote the idea of looking inside oneself and finding evil, known or unknown. Shirley Jackson specifically shows that while one thing is evil to someone, it might be acceptable and even necessary to others. Also "The Minister's Black Veil" shows a theme of inner evil as the minister wears a black veil over his eyes as a symbol that he too has evil inside him. Various objects and people represent evil in Gothic Literature, each different and significant to the authors and the characters.

Almost the complete polar opposite of this philosophy is transcendentalism. Transcendentalism deals with the idea of existencialism, and living that lifestyle. Defining a word with another big word is not usually good practice. In this case however, to understand existencialism is to understand trancendentalism. The main idea of existentialism is that "existence proceeds essence." In other words, there is no reality, truth, or essence without mankind. People create thier own gods, and truths. Transcendentalism is the lifestyle that follows this belief. Authors of this genre attempt to "transcend" or rise above, society, restrictions, and government. Usually these people also look to themselves, and themselves alone, as a source of truth. This idea accepts that humans, and human nature, are, if not inherently good, inherently right. A transcendentalist denies his need of assistance and considers any form of interference into his life, as evil. In essence, he destroys his real hope in favor of a flawed hope in himself.

Falling somewhat into this category is Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, and American Slave, Written by Himself. This book is the autobiography of an incredible intelligent, brave, man trapped in a life of slavery. It details his life as a slave and then proceeds to look into his life following his espace from slavery. A large part of Douglass's adventure is the acquirement of knowledge. This knowledge and education allows him to see the evils of the slavery in which he lives. The book falls into the transcendentalist category because it is a personal journey in which Douglass discovers himself, as well as his environment for what they truly are. Douglass would identify evil as anything that attepts to take away the humanity or identity of a person. Having experienced the dehumanization that is an obvious piece of slavery, he concludes that those most evil are the ones that hold another man's life as property and treat him as an animal. Douglass finds his hope, not in himself, but in freedom. He realizes that he can only achieve this freedom for himself and that there is a very small liklihood he will ever receive help. His hope is realized when he finally does escape into the North.

Photography is also something I am relatively decent at. I love capturing a moment in a picture and being able to go back and look at it later. Photography also leaves interpretation up to the viewer. Like evil and hope, a picture can be interpretted in any way that the viewer desires or sees it. For this reason my creative project is filled with single pictures and a quote to go along with each. Everything after that will be up to the viewer to understand. Symbolism and connections are there to be found only if one wants to find them. I will not explain each picture because that would detract from the overall idea of the project. However, I would be delighted if you want to respond with your personal interpretation of any of the photos. I hope you will enjoy this project as a work of art as well as a philosophical insight into my life and your own.

Most sincerely,
Lane Childers

This song, performed here by Mandy Moore in the movie A Walk to Remember, is not a love song it is a prayer. The song is originally by Switchfoot a well known Christian rock band and it expresses, openly and beautifully, Christ as savior, my only hope.