"A Christian should be an Alleluia from head to foot." - St. Augustine
I'm about 12% Alleluia on any given day, but I'm working on it.

The Getty Guide to Imagery Series: a Goldmine for Educators

We’re so fortunate to have a 2,000-year treasury of Christian art, and it would be a shame not to share it with our students, wouldn’t it? Art can point us towards a deeper understanding of Scripture or the life stories of the saints; it can move us emotionally in a way that words sometimes do not. You can pique kids’ curiosity and draw them into the story by sharing images with them.

Online, there are some terrific databases of images you can use in your class. Three of my favorites are:

  • Biblical Art on the WWW – searchable by topic, person, etc. Really cool set of images and links to images elsewhere
  • Olga’s Gallery – very comprehensive collection of images, often with annotation that can be helpful if you’re not familiar with the work or the artist
  • Web Gallery of Art – another very comprehensive collection, with links to the sites where the images are hosted.

While online sources are fabulous when you’re looking for a specific work of art, having books to flip through can give you a broader view of the life of a given saint or figure as portrayed in art. That’s why I absolutely love the Getty’s Guide to Imagery Series. I’ve reviewed two volumes of the series so far for Tiber River – Old Testament Figures in Art and Saints in Art. From the reviews:

Old Testament Figures in ArtWith its many notes as to recurring themes and connections to the New Testament, this would be terrific to have on hand for a Scripture class at any level, as it provides beautiful art to supplement a lecture or to examine in its own right. Each image is reproduced in full color and is grouped with similar pieces based on their correspondence to a particular event or figure in the Old Testament. Significant events in salvation history are presented in approximate chronological order, with notes as to the geographic location, relative time of their occurrence, Scriptural references, and the region where a particular image or event was most popular.

For example, the story of Abraham’s encounter with the king and priest Melchizedek is represented by two paintings, each with notes about the event prefiguring the Last Supper. The section on this event includes an explanation of the circumstances leading up to Abraham’s meeting Melchizedek, and points out that Salem is the ancient name for the city of Jerusalem. Each painting has multiple notes that point out significant figures and techniques used by the artist to create the work.
Read more about Old Testament Figures in Art at Tiber River

and

Saints in ArtThe images collected in Saints in Art are not intended to act as a hall of fame for the most widely venerated saints throughout the world, but rather serve to show us the symbols and stories associated with various aspects of Christian history. Each image is shown in full and vivid color, with notes around its perimeter that identify significant parts of the scene. We learn to look more closely at these works of art and to understand that there is meaning to every small detail, and to enjoy “decoding” similar images.

For religious educators, this book would be a great resource for discovering new and unusual facts about saints, and for sharing with students to help them remember what made each saint unique. Some graphic scenes of martyrdom and occasional nudity would mean that this isn’t a book you’d leave around for kids to page through, but there are many, many images that could be appreciated by even the youngest art aficionado. I think it’s great to use visuals like these in teaching and learning about our faith, because we can come to better appreciate beauty as well as having another way to remember important events in the life of a saint we’re studying.
Read more about Saints in Art at Tiber River.

It seems like they’re always coming out with new volumes in this series, and I can’t wait to add some of the other titles to my collection. I highly recommend that you check them out, too.

I wrote these reviews of Old Testament Figures in Art and Saints in Art for the Tiber River Blogger Review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods. For more information and to purchase, please visit Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, your source for Baptism Gifts and First Communion Gifts. Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases. I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.

Isaac and Rebecca in 90 seconds


This is the second in a series of short “trailers” for Biblical figures I’ll be producing – Blessed Are They: 90-Second Scripture Shorts. You are free to use this however you’d like; please attribute it to me.

I’m planning to show this to my students as a preview before we talk about Isaac and Rebecca. I feel like their story always gets a little bit lost among the more suspenseful episodes in the lives of the Patriarchs – plus, the students (and I) get Rachel and Rebecca mixed up. This video series is designed to sharpen my focus in the classroom.


Please suscribe to my feed to follow along as I share more of the Blessed Are They: 90-Second Scripture Shorts series. You may also enjoy the Catechist Chat series of discussion posts about religious education, which you can follow on Facebook

Sign up for my email list, and I’ll send you resources, including non-PDF versions of the activities I post (which means you can edit them in Microsoft Word to customize them for your own students).

Fine art images are from Wikipedia Commons. Images used incude:

Music is “Song of the Earth” by Michael Dulin & Chuck Offutt.
This video was created using Animoto Pro. Try Animoto for yourself  and receive $5 off an all-access account or a free one-month Pro membership with the purchase of an annual Pro membership.

Abraham in 90 Seconds

This is the first in a series of short “trailers” for Biblical figures I’ll be producing – Blessed Are They: 90-Second Scripture Shorts. You are free to use this however you’d like; please attribute it to me.

I’m planning to show this to my students as a preview before we talk about Abraham, to give them an idea of the overall story arc and the important themes associated with his life. I find that I can all too easily get into the juicy details of a story and leave my students overwhelmed with way too much information in a short period of time. This video series is designed to sharpen my focus in the classroom.

I created this using a Pro version of Animoto. There is an educational version of Animoto under review which I think you can still apply for, and the regular free version allows you to create 30-second video clips for personal use. If you have access to a computer lab with your students, I think this would be a terrific project for them instead of PowerPoint. Since I teach CCD, my time is very limited, so that’s why I am producing a whole series that I can share in my classroom.

Plus, the best part of going to the movies is the previews, right?

Please suscribe to my feed to follow along as I share more of the Blessed Are They: 90-Second Scripture Shorts series. You may also enjoy the Catechist Chat series of discussion posts about religious education, which you can follow on Facebook

Sign up for my email list, and I’ll send you resources, including non-PDF versions of the activities I post (which means you can edit them in Microsoft Word to customize them for your own students).

Image Credits:

Music is “Epiphany (Instrumental)” by Mark Petrie.
This video was created using Animoto Pro. Try Animoto for yourself  and receive $5 off an all-access account or a free one-month Pro membership with the purchase of an annual Pro membership.

Truth & Life Dramatized Audio Bible: Highly Recommended

Truth & Life Dramatized Audio Bible - New Testament
Through the generosity of the family-run bookstore Aquinas and More, I was able to obtain a review copy of the Truth & Life Dramatized Audio Bible – New Testament. I was so excited to receive it in the mail that I started listening to it right out of the package. An audio recording of the New Testament, voiced by a cast of professional actors, this 18-CD compilation is an engaging, professional audio version of the Bible perfect for listeners of any age. You can view video clips of the recording process and listening to sample tracks from the CD’s at the website for the Truth & Life Dramatized Audio Bible.

I’ve enjoyed listening to the CD’s while going about my day – it’s uplifting to hear the Word of God during the mundane duties of everyday life, and it also allows me to experience the Gospels “as the action unfolds.” Hearing the recording on its own or while reading along is a terrific way to reflect upon the readings for the day or to study a book of the New Testament as a whole.

As a catechist, I cannot wait to use these recordings with my students. I plan to play snippets for them each week as we work our way through the New Testament, and I know this will be more effective than my reading aloud from the Bible to them. The packaging says that an Old Testament version is in the works, and I can assure you that I will be first in line to purchase it as well.

The recording carries an imprimatur and is a solidly Catholic endeavor. The text is that of the New Testament, Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition. I really feel that this compilation could easily be utilized by scholars and Bible enthusiasts from any tradition, however, and the producers’ commitment to creating a high-quality recording is a testament to the value of this resource for personal and group study.

I can’t recommend this collection highly enough. This would be a terrific gift for a Bible enthusiast or for a friend who is just beginning to learn about the life of Jesus. It’s a treat to hear the voices of some of my favorite actors – John Rhys-Davies, Neal McDonough, Sean Astin, Kristen Bell, and many more, and the quality of the recordings is top-notch. It’s a great value for the price, and it’s an addition to my library that I know I will rely on for personal and catechetical use for years to come.

I wrote this review of the Truth & Life Dramatized Audio Bible for Aquinas and More’s Tiber River Review Program, though which I can earn cool Catholic stuff by sharing my opinions of other cool Catholic stuff. I appreciate their responsive customer service and excellent selection, and I encourage you to check out their unique Christmas gift options – if you’re stumped for ideas, they have a great list of Most Popular Catholic Gifts in various categories.

More domestic church photos

Love these! Keep the submissions coming!

Kayleen - brown cross

Monica - crosses

Laura - tabletop

Missal

The Great Adventure

I am now 3/8 of the way through The Great Adventure Bible study from Ascension Press. CHECK IT! And you thought I was just sunning myself on the beach. Hardly! First of all, People of the No Pigment do not Sun. Second, this is a Working Beach Trip. Third, I have to do something while I wait for my daughter to fall asleep, an event that currently occurs at “oh-dark thirty.” I am going to have to do some SERIOUS reprogramming when we come home.

Anyway, so I am 37.5% of the way through with the study, and I cannot recommend it enough. The purpose of the study is to give a broad overview of salvation history by reading a selection of historical books of the Bible. The study also provides a detailed explanation of where the other books fit in this timeline. I am cheered by the fact that I haven’t learned THAT much new information (after all, I am a theology teacher…with an economics degree). But what’s great is the sense of getting the “big picture,” with stops to expand upon the significance of various events, locations, etc.

The materials themselves are very “content-rich,” as we say in the Eduspeak business. There is a book of study questions broken into 24 units, with an accompanying set of responses to be used after the group has discussed the questions. (I’m just zooming through this on my own in preparation for teaching Hebrew Scriptures/New Testament in the fall, but these materials are really designed for a group setting). There’s also another booklet with maps, charts, and room for taking notes. My one quibble is that it’s complicated to flip back and forth from the questions to the other booklet, and it would make more sense to me if they were combined into one volume, with space built in for additional notetaking as you answer the various questions.

But my favorite thing is the colors. The colors! Each period of salvation history has its own color! There’s a bracelet! You can color in your guide! And you can (AND SHOULD) order tabs for your Bible that let you coordinate books according to historical period. I LOVE COLORS!

Anyway, I am still typing on my recalcitrant laptop at a Starbucks, so I cannot elaborate further or edit this post. But you should definitely check it out. I am using the CD set, which is just as helpful as the videos, I think, although the videos would probably be better for a group setting.

I started going through this study once I’d confirmed that I do want to use their T3: Teen Timeline videos with my students next year. More later on the exciting organizational schema which will flow from this decision. The T3 materials consist of a set of 8 35-minute talks on DVD, a student study guide, a blank timeline chart for them to fill in, a more detailed timeline chart, and a teacher’s guide. The student kit also includes a bookmark (with the colors!) and a bracelet (the colors!)

I think the T3 kit is perfect for a parish setting. The student study guide is not designed to serve as a year-long classroom supplement, and so I’ve decided against ordering a study guide for each student. It has helpful information, and will be a good resource for me, but there’s not enough there to justify having each student purchase one. There is also the confusion of – what would we use it for? In addition to their regular binder? Instead? (NO!) But I did order each student a Bible Timeline chart and a set of the colored tabs for their Bibles. (This cost just a little bit less than ordering the student kit, so it’s not necessarily a bad idea to order the student kit for the classroom if you really love it).

More thoughts to follow. Starbucks time almost up!