A Valuable Read/View for Our Times

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” ~Rev.Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 1963

Thank you Kirwan Inst. and kudos to Jamaal Bell. I teach middle school civics and we’re studying Dr. King’s letter and how it relates to the civil rights movement as it’s covered in our textbook and the 14th Amendment. I think that both having a variety of narrators rather than a single actor portraying King or merely reading the letter, combine with the still images and historic footage you’ve woven together made this a more meaningful and compelling piece- especially for rural, mostly white Iowa eighth graders in 2018, who otherwise may not have understood or appreciated the letter as well.

When I re-read or re-teach this letter, I am reminded of Dr. King’s intelligence, patience, compassion, and insight. This letter has inspired me to write poems and blog posts and paint paintings.

This year, however, just as Dr. King wrote it in response to well intentioned white clergy fifty-five years ago, I wish I could introduce it to all the well-meaning white Christians, especially moderates and conservatives.

King, speaking to clergymen after all, even though it’s an “open” letter that the entire world was privy to in newspapers and magazines, alluded to several saints, philosophers and scriptures. He referrers to the teachings and examples of Jesus frequently in the letter.

These days, my family, friends and neighbors don’t understand the protests over police brutality in the last 2-3 years in Ferguson, Baton Rouge, Baltimore, etc. They saw white supremacists demonstrating in Charlotteville, VA and somehow they blamed former President Obama for being racially divisive during his time in office.

President Trump started his campaign off by describing Mexicans as drug dealers and rapists and started his administration off by calling for a ban on travel and immigration from predominantly Muslim countries.

Just this week Attorney General Jeff Sessions let slip during remarks to law enforcement officials in Washington that he thinks that sheriffs’  have an”AngloAmerican heritage.”

My own Congressman, Steve King (R) of Iowa has opposed immigration because he doesn’t think we can restore our “superior culture” with “other people’s babies.” King has met with and admires Tomio Okamura, the leader of a neo-fascist white supremacist party in the Czech Republic.

As much as people would like to think that we’re more enlightened than Americans were in 1963 or have somehow achieved racial harmony, but obviously we haven’t. I fear that too many of us ARE the “white moderates” that Doctor King criticized in this letter.

We have become complacent or numb to injustice and inequalities. We’re reluctant to recognize let alone repent of our own latent racism. Many of us our even either in denial about or oblivious to institutional forms of racism and the racism of many of our leaders, either because recognizing it would mean having to do something about it or worse, recognizing it would reflect poorly on ourselves. We don’t want to admit that we could possibly be wrong.

Then there’s women’s inequality. Why do we hesitate to equate sexism with racism? Are they not the same? I think that when King talks about Austrian philosopher Martin Buber’s discussion about “I and Thou” rather than “I-It,” we could apply that to women as well as to people of color. Don’t we too often treat women as things rather than people?

And of course today discussion of LGBT rights is much more prominent than in the 1960’s. Even if you have difficulties getting past religious qualms about non-traditional (“non-binary”) sexuality, its impossible to get around that the Constitution’s requirements of equal protection and due process for all, regardless of race, creed, gender, and political persuasion. Discrimination is discrimination, no matter who it’s against or what your motivation.

This year, what made an impression on me was King’s discussion about just and unjust laws. Too many politicians have been using the argument about following the “rule of law” to whip up anger and indignation against DACA “Dreamer”immigrants, who’s parents brought them to this country when they were young children and who essentially have never known any country (home) than this one, but now face deportation decades later.

Doctor King handles head-on the fact that morality and justice are more important than the letter-of-the law, especially when state or local laws are abused by those in power to discriminate, segregate, or violate the rights and protections guaranteed by the Constitution. Had he been a judge or a lawyer rather than a pastor and organizer, he probably would’ve quoted the Fourteenth Amendment directly.

I wish my loved ones would realize that when laws are inadequate, unclear, or unfair, it is our responsibility to revise, reform, or replace them. And that challenging them, protesting, sometimes even deliberately breaking them are all part of our constant democratic process.

I feel like ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail’ is a masterpiece of writing. Personally, I consider it part of the broader American “unwritten-constitution,” along side things like Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address or Washington’s farewell address or Teddy Roosevelt’s corollary to the Monroe Doctrine and along side his own ‘I Have a Dream’ speech which he made just four or five months after he wrote this.

If you’ve never read it, I encourage you to find a copy. If you have about an hour that you’d otherwise end up using on Netflix or YouTube anyway, watch the video linked to at the top of this blog post. Consider it kind of an audio version of this letter. My prayer is that it will impact you half as much as it has me.



Lessons from Doc

5376582452_9b812aa1f4_bI realize that MLK Day was a couple of weeks ago but this blog post has kind of been nagging at me ever since then.

Everyone knows him from his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech from 1963 and as an important civil rights leader who was assassinated in 1968. But how many of us have ever took the time to really read, study or digest that speech?

History buffs and civil rights advocates may know more about him. They may know that he’s also remembered for his ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail,’ for leading protests there and a march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama to draw attention to state discrimination in voting rights.

They may credit him with helping to put pressure on President Johnson and Congress to pass both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. They know that after fighting so long against legal segregation and political equality in the South, he had begun campaigning for economic justice nationwide.

But we forget that he was a pastor, a theologian, an intellectual, a husband and father, a reader, thinker and writer. “Rev. Dr.” means that he was ordained and had a PhD. He wasn’t just a gifted speaker, activist and organizer. He was a ridiculously prolific writer.

He’s one of my personal favorite writers.

As a History/Social Studies teacher, I think his most fascinating piece, in therms of political science, sociology and philosophy has to be his 1967 speech ‘Beyond Vietnam.’

Two of my favorite books aren’t political speeches or editorials though, they’re sermons, devotions and essays on spirituality, love, and King’s  trademark non-violence. Strength to Love  from 1963 and The Measure of a Man , from 1968.

Without having open copies by my side, or a tab open to search for quoted from MLK, I want to share some principles I’ve gleaned from Doctor King’s writings that I try to apply as life lessons. Full disclosure; I’m a white male that grew up in the middle-class suburbs of Phoenix in the 70’s (‘Leave it to Beaver,’ only not in the 50’s).

Maybe that’s the point though- while as a progressive it ticks me off to see right-wing extremists and conservative Republican pundits and politicians try to co-opt Dr. King’s quotes or use his image to try to evoke pretend inclusion or phony compassion- much of King’s teaching really does transcend race, gender, and era.

King made no secret that he was influenced by Mahatma Ghandi, Henry David Thoreau, Martin Luther, and Jesus Christ of Nazareth.  I bet he was also influenced a lot by Mahalia Jackson and Cloretta Scott-King too. What positive role models? We could all use some role models like those today.

When I read King, I see much of his ideas and beliefs echoed in secular authors like Viktor Frankl and Christian authors like C.S. Lewis. white And in white evangelicals like Tony Campolo and black activists like John Lewis and Cornell West. Most of all, I hear echoes of Saint Paul and of Jesus.

If I could pass anything on to my children or my students, I wish I could plant these lessons in their hearts and minds, but I know they have to read Kings books for themselves, listen to his speeches for themselves, study history, read scriptures and encounter God all for themselves. I can’t do it for them. Be that as it may, here are some things I learned from Dr. King.

Off the top of my head, & from the well of my heart-

Lessons I’ve learned from Doctor King

  • Meet physical force with soul force
  • Peace isn’t just an end, it’s a means to many ends
  • Forgiveness is hard, but it shouldn’t just be a habit, but a way of life
  • Be a thermostat, not just a thermometer
  • Better to be tough minded and soft hearted than hard-hearted and soft-minded!
  • Never give up hope, seek to become a prisoner of hope
  • Undeserved suffering is redemptive
  • ALL of our destinies are inextricably tied together
  • Injustice ANYWHERE is a threat to justice EVERYWHERE
  • Never stop; if you can’t fly, run, if you can’t run, walk, if you can’t walk crawl- but keep moving forward.
  • Hate can’t drive out hate, only love can do that
  • Just a sneeze can change history
  • Just because something is a law doesn’t make it just and unjust laws sometimes may even need to be broken to draw attention to the fact that they ought to be changed
  • Change comes from faith, prayer, love, community, and sacrifice
  • Words are powerful
  • It’s one thing to claim to believe something, it’s another to live out the true meaning of those beliefs
  • Love
  • Love others, even your enemies


Oh Mercy! This is a Test

______ 1. How you respond to God testing Abraham in Genesis 22 says a lot about you & your belief system. When God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, which was God testing?

a) Abraham’s obedience

b) Abraham’s faith

c) Abraham’s priorities

d) All of the above

e) None of the above; it was foreshadowing, sacrificing Isaac was a “type” for the coming Christ.

f) None of the above; it was foreshadowing, sacrificing Isaac was a “type” for the coming  sacrifice which God would make of His own son Jesus

g) WTF???!!!


First the ringers- If you chose “f,” you’re probably some kind of theologian. If you chose “e,” you’re probably an English or Literature teacher.

If you chose “g”-  either you don’t like tests, you may not like organized religion, or you have a great deal of compassion for Isaac. I totally get it. I’m with you. What kind of God would demand child sacrifice? Try to be patient. Not only does it not make sense on the surface, it doesn’t make sense in context either.

The Bible claims that God hates child sacrifice, that’s one of the reasons He tells the Israelites to wipe out the tribes when they take possession of the “promise land” later in the book of Genesis, because the tribes there sacrificed their babies to their gods.

Look- I like you’re thinking. It’s not blasphemous or disrespectful to question God, especially if you see Him as illogical, cruel or brutal or hypocritical. But give me a chance and keep reading. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water (okay, pun intended).

At any rate, I like your thinking. You don’t think it’s fair of either God or Abraham to kill poor Isaac. I appreciate that. Look, even if you’re an atheist, an agnostic or some kind of pantheist- keep reading. You may get just get something out of this.

IF YOU’RE PUT OFF BY EITHER MY LANGUAGE or my affinity/empathy for those who choose “g,” 1. You probably chose “a” 2. I won’t use too much more language and 3. please keep reading, even if you feel offended- you might just get something out of this too.

Next, the obvious- Of course the best answer is “d.” Anyone who’s ever taken a multiple choice question knows that if a teacher gives you the ‘ol “all of the above” option, you ought to take it. Notice I didn’t give you the classic Sunday School best answer, “Jesus.” That would have been too easy- although, let’s face it, in this case “f” is pretty much the same as “Jesus.”

So now let’s do some thinking and reflecting. I hope this really gives you something to chew on.

If you chose “c” priorities, you might have made a good Sadducee. You may either have a strong sense of tradition or you may believe in perspective and ethics. You might just believe in social justice. You may see the core of Scripture as Micah 6:8, love mercy, act justly, walk humbly. I wouldn’t be surprised if you were progressive.

Some people seem to think that God was making sure that Abraham put God first, even before family. Abraham had become very wealthy and powerful. In the next chapter, we see that he’s considered a prince by his neighbors. Which was more important to him, serving God, or the promise God had given him of  “becoming a great nation?”

Whereas, if you chose “a”obedience, you might have made a good Pharisee. You have a strong sense of legalism. You like authority, whether it’s exercising it or the secure feeling of having to follow it. Between philosophers Rousseau, Locke and Hobbes, you’d probably pick Hobbes every time.

You believe in security and tradition, am I right? Can I just say something to you? Just because the trains don’t run on time doesn’t mean that we’re all going to Hell in a hand basket.  We’ve always been going to Hell in a hand basket- and probably always will. So chill.

But seriously: What if you chose “b” Abraham’s faith? Ah, now you’re learning Boy-o. Genesis 15:6, Romans 4:3, and 4:22 all talk about how Abraham had FAITH and it was credited to him as righteousness.

If you chose a, c, or g,  alone, you’re barking up the wrong trees.

“A” people- God doesn’t want slaves or robots without free will, although that would make things easy.

“G” people, if you’re pissed off at God for demanding a sacrifice- you aren’t seeing that not only does God want Abraham to trust Him, but He trusts that Abraham trusts Him. The test (as people who answer “F” might tell you) was more for us, the readers than for Abraham. Abraham may not have known with certainty that God would stop him at the last minute, but he trusted that God could bring Isaac back to life if he did end up killing him.

(You think you’re pissed off at God. Really you’re pissed off at we “A” and “C” people- and I don’t blame you.  But, nothing personal, but you really don’t “get” the “B” people, so try not to assume you’re better than them. If you think you’re pissed at them too- maybe the issue is not whether or not there is a God or whether religion is just a bunch of spaghetti monster mythology, or whether they’re wrong- maybe the issue is your anger. Just sayin’.)

[Sorry again for the language “a” people, please keep reading, not more profanity, I promise]

And “C” people, don’t think we’re somehow superior than the “A” people because if we think that our values and choices are morally superior to someone else’s, we’re still trusting those “rules” more than we’re trusting God. It’s a relationship, not a “religion.”

Sadducees had a “religion” or tradition and identity too. Adherence to justice is still following a set of disciplines rather than trusting a loving parent.

Pharisees had a “religion” of rules and identity. Entitled as the chosen tribe but demanding that everyone follow the letter-of-the law while sometimes losing sight of the spirit of the law.

But both groups were tribal and both groups had a frail grasp on the big picture. So one saw the forest and one saw the trees- neither were seeing the creator of those trees.

If I’ve lost you because of this alphabet soup, the bottom line is this- God doesn’t  “test” all of us every day, but He may allow us to be tested from time to time and He does want to know our priorities, whether or not we’re willing to sacrifice our will to His AND above all He wants to know that we TRUST Him because He loves us.

So what IS His will? What does he expect from us? Well…

“Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice.'” ~Matthew 9:13 & Hosea 6:6.

FYI– “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” ~Matthew 5:7



Amping up Note-Taking with ART


This year I have begun introducing a new way of combining pictures with words.

¡Viva La (Doodle) Revolución!

Sixth graders work on visual-literacy exercises. They think that it’s just fun doodling or maybe at most cartooning- but really, they’re learning how to communicate effectively, quickly and economically with images.

The principle is that drawing is a thinking tool, a means to an end, not just an end in itself. Ideally, this will build their confidence and lower their inhibitions about learning to draw, paint and design later in middle school and high school. Meanwhile these skills will help them be able to analyze, conceptualize, organize, interpret and visualize their learning. It will also help them better be able to communicate visually.


Book It!

This year I’ve also begun having 6th, 7th & 8th graders use inexpensive composition books. In these books students are encouraged to doodle and sketch, but this is also where they could practice art exercises and of course- take notes.

Instead of spending $6-10 per student from the Art Dept. budget, each student spends maybe 50 cents to $2 on their own composition book. My hope is to have them use these as a composition notebook, sketchbook, “smash-book,” scrap book, “bullet-journal,” organizer, and diary. Ideally, kids will recognize that they don’t have to spend huge amounts of money for special tools, but instead they can create their own very inexspesively.

Graphic Organization + Diagrams & Illustration
+ Annotation = BETTER NOTES

I introduced ALL my art classes, 6-12 to visual note-taking. Many teachers may cringe at the idea of letting students draw on their notes. I sympathize, that simple, spartan notes may be easier for teachers to grade, if they require students to turn them in. But I wanted to tackle several problems. 1) Integrating art into student’s everyday lives and other subjects. 2) Helping students notes be more meaningful and useful to them. 3) the fact that kids either don’t bother taking notes or complain about having to take them.

Year ago when I attended the Iowa Writer’s Workshop at Morningside College, Professor Marty Nepper helped me discover a powerful idea. Writing is not just about sharing or publishing what you’ve written, it’s tool for thinking, a way of processing and organizing ideas and experiences. Therefore, writing isn’t just for professional authors or reporters- it’s for EVERYBODY. I remembered that one of my Art professors at Concordia College often insisted that art was for EVERYONE, not just for professional artists. Connect the dots and it’s easy to see that while not everyone may paint like Michelangelo or draw like Leonardo- anyone who can make marks can use those marks to help them think. Drawing (Doodling, Sketching, Juxtaposing, Arranging/Designing) is a thinking tool!

I had experimented with the Cornell method of note taking for my middle school Civics classes with mixed results, so I began researching visual-note taking or “sketch-noting.” Some students are so used to traditional note taking that they need to be coached and coaxed (or at least reminded) to include doodles, illustrations or diagrams in their notes. A little “scaffolding” may be necessary from teachers, to help with this, I developed a rubric for scoring text-notes so that students know what’s expected.

It’s ironic that students would have to be encouraged to do something so fun and relatively easy, but some students are apprehensive about personalizing their notes rather than something more traditional that they expect will please their parents and teachers. Remind them that there’s not an absolute right and wrong way of doing things and that THEY control what’s emphasized and how things are organized with their text, images, and structure. Only the content is from another source.

Anecdotally I’ve noticed that Sixth and Seventh graders adapted to sketchnoting more naturally than Eighth graders and high school students, probably because they’re newer to note taking in general and therefore haven’t developed habits yet. My hope is that as I continue training middle school art students in this practice, it will permeate up through our grade levels.

Admittedly, this may require my persuading or even cajoling teachers to permit, let alone encourage students to draw on their notes. Since research suggests that even if imagery is not directly tied to the content, comprehension and retention is enhanced, I hope that students will adopt this practice and that teachers and parents will encourage them. Remember, some of the advantages will be being occupied with non disruptive behavior, personalizing and processing learning, and ideally, motivating students to connect with the content.

Benefits of Sketch-Noting

  • Enhances what you remember by over 25%
  • Improves your understanding
  • By combining visual and verbal cues, you are simultaneously using different parts of your brain to process the information
  • Students find it more entertaining and engaging than traditional note-taking alone
  • Students will be occupied by non-disruptive behavior
  • Student feel like they have a greater sense of ownership/stake in the learning

Elements of Sketch-Noting

  • Text; Typography/Fonts/Typestyle
  • Images, Symbols & Icons; Doodles/Cartoons/Simple Diagrams & Charts- NOT necessarily photographically realistic depictions
  • Structure/Organization; Shape, Colors, Lines & Cues to help direct attention, information flow, hierarchy, identification and emphasis.

Visit http://dogart.wikispaces.com/SKETCHNOTING to view a video about visual note taking and see my rubric for scoring student sketch-notes.

RUBRIC; Sketchnoting

Cultivating an ‘Art Mindset’

ORANGE BRAINThis year something I’ve adopted with all of my classes is “Mindset Mondays.” We learn about the concept of having a growth mindset in order to develop attitudes, build habits and practice skills which help us learn better. Usually this involves a short video and some discussion or a brain-teaser or activity meant to encourage becoming a life-long learner.

In Art classes at Boyer Valley this has meant taking notes on and learning about the “Studio Habits of Mind” developed a few years ago by educators at Harvard.

I really believe in these. I think that they’re not only things that artists genuinely do even without thinking about it, but very real reasons why art education is meaningful and important and not just “enrichment.” These are critical thinking activities which are valuable in the work place, in academic disciplines other than art and in everyday life.

I encourage everyone to practice them, not just my art students. I encourage parents and other teachers to talk about them with your students. Have conversations about what they mean, how to use them, and how they help.

It may be too soon to gauge what effect ‘Mindset Mondays’ has had on my classes, but it has definitely helped me to get students to consider their process more and not get so hung up on their finished products. This is immeasurably important in art because as any experienced artist will tell you, if you fall in love with the process, more successful products will be a natural outcome.

I have incorporated studio habits into a  portion of students’ self-assessments for every assignment and occasionally will include an extended reflection/assessment for a given project that emphasizes the 8 habits, not just the usual rubric objectives.

One of the best things about these is that it provides a deeply researched, legitimate means of both teaching and evaluating what was once considered subjective or intangible, namely; inspiration, motivation, effort and participation.

Hetland, Lois. Studio Thinking: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education. New York: Teachers College, 2007. Print.

via 8 Studio Habits of Mind – Drawing and Painting

8 Studio Habits of Mind – Drawing and Painting
(Adapted from artiseducation.org, with my commentary in orange)

  1. Become an Artist: Learning to use tools, materials, artistic conventions (the traditional Elements & Principles of Design, which I’ve had college Art educators tell me are a priority to them) and learning to care for tools, materials, and space (teaching procedures, a perennial headache for Middle School Art teachers!).
  2. Engage and Persist: Learning to embrace problems of relevance within the art world and/or of personal importance, to develop focus conducive to working and persevering at tasks. (This habit hits on things vital for MS/HS students; Attention, Focus, Concentration, Mindfulness, Perseverance, Endurance, Grit, etc. etc.) 
  3. Envision: Learning to picture mentally what cannot be directly observed and imagine possible next steps in making a piece. (Initially this is about planning, many athletic coaches and trainers have written about “imaging” and “visualization,” this puts a name and a deliberate methodology to the creative, imaginative process that most artists and some students already use intuitively and ties perfectly with national core standards. Mid-process it becomes about awareness, inference decision making, flexibility and adaptation- also aligning with national core standards, 1 &2 ).
  4. Express: Learning to create works that convey an idea, a feeling, or a personal meaning – all within the context of drawing and painting. (A few years ago I realized that while students were claiming that this was the most important aspect of art to them, they didn’t know how to do it. So, taking a cue from Language Arts teachers, I began emphasizing how students could invoke mood using the elements of design, evoke associations using symbols and imagery and how to deliberately provoke discussion and/or reaction with a combination of composition and style. This aligns with national standards 3, 9, 10 & 11 and simultaneously makes art more personal, but also improves student’s communication and critical thinking skills by challenging them to plan, analyze and interpret.)
  5. Observe: Learning to attend to visual contexts more closely than ordinary “looking” requires and thereby see things that otherwise might not be seen; viewing with a critical eye. (This is the difference between Sherlock Holmes and John Watson- well, this and being a “high-functioning sociopath.” Point being, this is something that scientists and engineers and anyone who works with other people, animals or machinery all need and it’s something that art education gives kids, observation skills.)
  6. Reflect: Learning to think and talk with others about an aspect of one’s work or working process and learning to judge one’s own work and working process as well as the work of others. ( I really can’t say anything about this better than my colleague at artwithmrdexter.wordpress.com did, except to point out that it aligns with national standards 4, 6, 7, 8, & 10.)
  7. Stretch & Explore: Learning to reach beyond one’s capacities, to explore playfully without a preconceived plan, and to embrace the opportunity to learn from mistakes – all within the context of drawing and painting. (This not only teaches conceptual ambivalence, an important part of being an abstract thinker- but it increases both curiosity and pushing and challenging yourself. Taking risks in art is eminently safer than in other areas of life!)
  8. 8. Understand Arts Community: Learning to interact as an artist with other artists in the classroom, local arts organizations, and beyond (By posting student artworks on Artsonia.com and conducting regular class critique-sessions, I help students learn how to interact as members of an artist community. After discussing one habit a week for the first eight weeks, I switch to introducing students to other artistic concepts or to contemporary working artists on my ‘Mindset Mondays.’ By doing this, they see that art isn’t just about historical figures like DiVinci, Rembrandt, VanGogh and Picasso but a real, continuing, active thing. It also shows them that there are people who use the 8 studio habits today in the real world. Finally I model for them that when you learn something, adapt it or master it, it’s natural then to share it and contribute to other people’s learning. Not only do I utilize Artsonia for this, but we also post student artworks on Instagram with @BVArtdogs, which they in turn can share on other social media.)

studio20habitsstudio-habits-of-mindCheck out my “Art Mindset” Board on Pinterest

Let us love one another

My New Year’s resolution is to try to live by this (1 John 4:7-21, that is). I challenge everyone to do the same.
Verse 18 may be particularly challenging, these are anxious times we live in and angst can be a formidable foe. v.20-21 can be challenging too- don’t assume that “brothers and sisters” are only blood family. Granted, I’m not a trained theologian not linguist, but I think it would be antithetical to Jesus’ teachings to assume that these are only people who believe like us. I believe our brothers and sisters are ALL humans created by God. If we are afraid of them, deny them rights, assert our power or alleged superiority over them, I believe that we fail to follow Jesus’ example and His command. Not gonna lie, I fail at this plenty- So don’t think I’m trying to judge others indignantly.
Consider too what Nelson Mandela once said (especially next November on election day): “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”

God’s Love and Ours 1 John 4:7-21

7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

POEM | November

November Poem

Just after sunrise the light has a golden quality like it’s shining through a jar of honey

The sky in the West is “Advent blue,” the color of hope and optimism

The curves of the prairie are amber and warm beige like blessings and peace

Driving to work one morning I was struck by the colors. I didn’t have my Cannon camera with me and wasn’t going to try to capture the landscape with my phone camera while driving, but I’m an occasional amateur poet, so I thought about what I’d write to describe the scene. Since I’ve been teaching Commercial Art students about using both the vector graphics app “youidraw.com” (like Adobe illustrator, but free) and the layout design app “Lucidpress.com” (essentially a free online imitation of Adobe InDesign) I developed a simple abstract design of colors and placed the poem over it.