Reinhold Niebuhr: A Reality Check

Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore, we must be saved by hope.

Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore, we must be saved by faith.

Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone;therefore we must be saved by love.

No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint; therefore, we are saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.

Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History

Reference photo from this webpage. Freehand in Procreate, iPad, Sty-HD stylus.


Download image and quote as jpg with permission by clicking here:

Precious Water

As we move from the Hartford of the West (Des Moines, IA) to the Gateway to Yosemite (Merced, CA), from the nation’s breadbasket to not far from its salad bowl, we’ll have to keep an eye on water like never before.  Water is a finite and precious resource practically everywhere, and this is especially true in the San Joaquin Valley.


City of Merced, Gateway to Yosemite


Ney & Tombak

One of these days I’ll tell the story of how I became familiar with traditional Persian music. It has been a love affair of more than 30 years! On one of our flights back from CA to IA I was listening to a beautiful piece that featured the Persian ney and tombak, and this little drawing was inspired. If you’re not familiar with this music or these instruments, then I simply suggest that you look them up on YouTube. It’s been a long day; otherwise, I would supply a link or two.


Smoke and Mirrors

Hold on to the smoke for a moment, and consider how mirrors are revolving doors between complementary sides.  A professor of biblical spirituality once parenthetically stated in a class I was taking that we’d all be much better off approaching sacred texts not so much like answer-providing crystal balls but rather as question-provoking mirrors. Rumi asked: “If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?”

OK, you can exhale now.  I toy with mirrors from time to time.  This morning I decided to play around with this artifact in Fifty Three Paper.


It’s all practice.  I’m not sure what it means if it means anything at all, but it was a study in a new technique and an opportunity to play with the familiar image even though I usually have two mirrors facing one another partially.  The colored outlines on the mirror frame were my attempt to loosen it up after the fact; I find the drawing tighter than necessary, and I hope to relax over time. I started with the cigarette because it was the first related image that came to mind. I was searching for an image that could stick out the same way it would stick “in,” you know, kinda’ like a two-handed saw.  I went with a cigarette instead. I tried to capitalize on the notion of inside vs outside smoke.  Then the ashtray happened; and here’s where I tried something new with the lighting and reflection and variegated coloring, something unusual for me and my black & white, stick-figure imagination.

I’ve done some mirrors in the past. In the above drawing, because of the iPad drawing app and the corresponding techniques at my disposal, I deviated from what had almost become an irreversible pattern, as depicted in these examples:

IMG_1934 Snapshot 2008-11-28 17-04-40 Snapshot 2008-11-28 17-50-26 Snapshot 2008-11-28 17-58-11 Snapshot 2008-11-28 18-08-45 Snapshot 2008-11-28 19-01-28

You exhaled, right?

Extraordinary Carts and The Holy Spigot

This evening the image of an ordinary spigot came to mind, and I thought It woulld be fun to try drawing one. I searched Google images and found a blue-handled one. I changed the color of the wheel handle from blue to red to correspond to the spigot that I had initially imagined. There is nothing extraordinary about a spigot, except the name, which I’ve always liked for some reason, even before I watched the nervous and newly ordained Fr. Gerald, played by Rowan Atkinson, aka Mr. Bean, in Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), utter a blessing in the “Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spigot.” Still, in the end, there is nothing extraordinary about a spigot no matter what color its handle is.


I’m drawn to ordinary things. Recently, I drew the cart used by residents of Whiteline Lofts in Des Moines, Iowa. That there is only this one cart makes it extraordinary in some ways, ways that call my attention; and if I’m not entranced by, let’s say, a spigot or something, then, I offer my undivided attention.


More theologoumena, this one on the recent gov’t shutdown

A few weeks ago, when many parts of the government came to an avoidable halt from Oct. 1 through Oct. 16, 2013, it occurred to me that there was no way of knowing just how far up the food chain the residual effects would climb.  And so I envisioned this:


I’ve just added this drawing to the Gallery, Random Theologoumenal Renderings on this page.

A Shoe Theme Has Emerged: Men’s Shoes Can Be Loud Too

We wear shoes.  Some of us would have a harder time sneaking up on others because of the sounds our shoes make.  One of those sounds prompted me to produce this clip:

That little clip was based on something similar I had already tried a couple of weeks ago (see below), I used the following two images in iMovie, did some editing, and added some sound tracks. These are the two drawings done in Fifty Three Paper, the iPad drawing app.


Fifty Three lets you duplicate a drawing. I did so, erased the hammers, and added bunny slippers.  Wishful thinking?


BULLETIN:  This just in from the Des Moines Register: Police: Dispute comes to head with hammers

The following short clip, entitled Airport Security or TSA, is the prototype I referred to.

The two drawings use in Airport Security or TSA:



BIG CHECK: Inaugural Post, An Arbitrary Starting Point

I’ve been told I use my hands a lot when I talk. Maybe that’s because I consider language as my back-up medium. Give me a lump of clay, a chunk of wood, paper and pencil, iMovie, PowerPoint, iPhoto, and most recently, an iPad, a drawing app like Fifty Three Paper, and a stylus, and I then ask me if I have anything to “say.”

I’ve always been intrigued by those photo-ops in which people are giving and receiving funding and BIG, ENORMOUS checks are used.  You’ve seen them.  I assembled a few into one image, and at first I called it Big Check.


Prenatal Outcomes: Tangible financial capital investments intended to be converted into outcomes desired by the community

Then, I guess because of my work in planning and evaluation, I renamed it, Prenatal Outcomes.

The idea of the “big check” stuck with me, and a couple of weeks ago, I drew the following on my first generation iPad using  Fifty Three Paper.


Betty was slightly annoyed that her benefactors hadn’t given her a regular check after the press conference.

It could happen.