Regulation of Photoshopping – Missing the Picture?

Bureaucratizing beauty is not likely a way to safeguard it, however good it may be for companies to be honest with consumers about what they are serving them.

I’m quite a ModCloth styliste, even choosing them as the source of wardrobe for actresses in my Romans XIII project. They are a very genuine and classy company when it comes to style, and I appreciate their honest approach with shoppers. This tastefulness seems to have an inherent public appeal, as evidenced by its well over 1 million likes on Facebook.

"Luck Be A Lady" dress in red, one of my favorites from ModCloth, on Stacey Bradshaw in a scene from Romans XIII.

“Luck Be A Lady” dress in red, one of my favorites from ModCloth, on actress Stacey Bradshaw in a scene from Romans XIII. Photography by Abigail Read.

They were the first fashion company to sign the “Heroes Pledge For Advertisers,” which complies with legislation H.R. 4341 introduced by a Republican and two Democrats this year for the following purpose:

To direct the Federal Trade Commission to submit to Congress a report
on the use, in advertising and other media for the promotion of
commercial products, of images that have been altered to materially
change the physical characteristics of the faces and bodies of the
individuals depicted.

ModCloth is on the right track as a company anyway. But federal legislation is too often well-intentioned and ill-performing. The art of photoshopping, properly applied, does not misconstrue the subject’s appearance, but can actually be used to make someone look more like their real 3-dimensional selves than the camera may capture in a particular setting. A temporary blemish might be present, or the lighting might be too harsh, or a distracting shadow might obscure someone’s true eye or hair color, or the white balance might not be quite right. Photoshopping and painted portrait touch up is as old as the relevant arts themselves. If an individual company chooses to demonstrate that they can use modern photography and art tools in a tasteful and honest way and think that a pledge helps communicate this message to consumers, they are welcome to go for it.

But on the level of federal law, will there be routine cases of organizations and individuals complaining that images have illegally “been altered to materially change” depictions of human beings (or even animals) even when actual airbrushing has not taken place? Will countless digital and printed copies of un-retouched photographs and videos side-by-side completed advertisements need to be inspected by a new line of government employees? Will some businesses be fined or taxed for using certain types of image editing software?

When bureaucracy gets involved, you have to be wary. The Crusading Chemist Dr. Harvey Wiley learned all about how innocent law in crooked hands can go terribly wrong.

Ministries to Support During This Turmoil

“Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold,” our LORD Jesus told us. “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” (Matthew 24:12-13)

We see the folly of lacking principle, the roots of the world’s strife, and our souls may well be vexed and our hearts closed and apathetic because it is just too exhausting to be an advocate for righteousness. Whom can we trust on the ground to deliver what the lost and persecuted need?

These are the tried-and-true ministries to whom I choose to tithe. They are smaller, more personal ministries with whom I generally have a personal connection.

PPF CompassionPersecution Project Foundation

I interviewed PPF founder Brad Phillips in 2011 (“Genocide in Sudan: An interview with Brad Phillips,” August 12, 2011, The Washington Times Communities) after being put in contact with him by friends of ours who are also involved in PPF, Matt and Jennie Chancey. These Christians are unique in their understanding of how the persecuted’s enemies abroad are our enemies, and our individuals and families reaching out as a community to impart compassion and self-sufficiency is more effective than any bureaucratized institution or government policy. Your gifts do not spoil in store rooms, nor arm our enemies.

Glory of ZionGlory of Zion International Ministries

Glory of Zion is one ministry especially committed to not quenching the Spirit or despising prophetic utterances, and is not afraid to bring the Word with authority to areas others might fear to tread in a time of war. You can choose to have your donation go specifically to the cause of Israel, where members of the GOZ family are living to minister to people there.

Smyrna MinistriesSmyrna Ministries

Like that church in Revelation 2:8-10, Smyrna Ministries holds to the hope that God knows their tribulation. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. An old friend of mine works for this organization, among the small staff that is very quietly, modestly in the background of their work to aid Christians in surviving Islamic persecution.

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 11.16.12 AMRescue Christians (Walid Shoebat Ministries, Forum For Middle East Understanding)

I am acquainted with the Shoebats, who work to deliver and provide asylum to Christians persecuted by Islamic governments as well as aid in helping American citizens and media understand what is really going on in the Arab world.

Church for SkepticsChurch for Skeptics

Dan Arsenault is a friend and Biblical scholar based in Alabama who gives insights on Scripture, history, and philosophy in his weekly television program Church for Skeptics. Dan also travels abroad to preach the word and engage with unbelievers, particularly in secular Europe.

Watch some Church for Skeptics episodes here:

Sasha’s Hope

Sasha's HopeThe Tauntons are friends who have done timeless apologetic work in Alabama and abroad, and after adopting Sasha from the Ukraine have founded a ministry to protect (particularly Eastern European) orphans from sex trafficking.

Read my review of Larry Taunton’s book about Sasha’s adoption, The Grace Effect: How the Power of One Life Can Reverse the Corruption of Unbelief (“Debate meets reality in ‘The Grace Effect,’” January 7, 2012, The Washington Times Communities).

“The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.”
- Proverbs 11:25


Soul Doctors

It is no person’s job to compete with the leadings of the Holy Spirit, especially not Ann Coulter’s. But whatever the method to her madness, there is one line in her latest controversial and harshly titled column that stood out to me as rational and compassionate:

Ebola kills only the body; the virus of spiritual bankruptcy and moral decadence spread by so many Hollywood movies infects the world.

Ann CoulterThat, my fellow creative artists, is why we do what we do.

What appears to be just entertainment is actually expressive communication that goes back to the Psalms, to the designing of the Tabernacle and Ark of the Covenant, to the very creation of the universe.

We minister to exercise, cleanse, nourish, heal, and save the mind and soul.

Never underestimate the power of the written, sung, and performed word.


Independence Day Weekend

At 238 years of age, I suppose it’s about time that America can no longer blame decline and error on youthful indiscretion. Here are some observations about a particular 4th of July-themed film that annoyed some readers more than I anticipated (I offended fans of the film). Any thoughts?


Read “1776 the musical and insidious views of liberty” at Brenner Brief News

I enjoyed our traditional family patriotic celebration outing, which is when I read aloud the Declaration of Independence on our way to eat out and then watch fireworks, usually the evening before the Fourth.

Here’s some Independence Day style I invented last year that you ladies might be interested in, especially while ModCloth has a sale happening:

Independence Day Style

Today we enjoyed worshipping our ultimate liberator Jesus Christ in fellowship with other believers at the First Baptist Church that our grandparents invited us to attend this morning. There was a sweet moment of thanking all the troops, current and retired, for their service to this country on which God’s Providence has so long smiled. That includes my Dear Old Dad, who served in the U.S. Army for 20 years.

Afterward we went to Grandmomma and Granddaddy’s house for homemade peach ice cream, and to pick blueberries from their impressively tall and fruitful Rabbit Eye bushes.

Interesting Scripture reference on the back of the church program this morning, isn't it?

Interesting Scripture reference on the back of the church program this morning, isn’t it?

I’ve got something else I plan to write about soon. I’ll just leave a teaser here for now. Hint: Her name means “year of liberty.”