Miranda Lim

Political and Nuclear Fallout: A Rhetorical Analysis of Ted Gup’s Editorial

Between the 72nd anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
President Trump made the controversial statement that if North Korea threatened the U.S., they
would be “met with fire and fury.” His words stirred the American people with a variety of
reactions. At one end of the spectrum, people applauded him for being authoritative in a way
previous presidents had not been. At the other end, people either ignored him and wrote it off as
ignorance from an incompetent leader, or they were instilled with fear of the future of their
country and the whole world.

Among this latter group was Ted Gup, a professor of journalism at
Emerson College. His editorial titled “The world has already seen ‘fire and fury’” was published
in The Washington Post shortly after the president’s remarks. Addressing a predominantly liberal
audience, Gup appeals to their emotions and ethics and utilizes antithesis to make the claim that
both the threat and use of nuclear weapons is uninformed, unsafe, and unethical.
Gup hopes to convince his readers that nuclear war is wrong by appealing to their
emotions—an appropriate choice for an emotional topic.

He begins by recalling the experiences
of Shima Sonoda, a survivor of the Hiroshima bombing. He describes her search for her
four-year-old daughter who was nowhere to be found in the debris, insinuating that she had very
likely been vaporized instantly. These details draw upon the reader’s sympathy and empathy as
they pity the small child who had never known life without war. Using an example of children is
an effective appeal to emotion because children are innocent and most people feel a natural need
to protect them. A deeper emotional connection can be felt as the reader considers the
perspective of the mother who had to go on suffering in life without her daughter.

It touches on the relationship between mother and child which is a connection that people find compelling. It may remind them of their own mothers. Gup makes the most of this connection by describing
their interaction immediately preceding the blast and their interactions every day following it.
Right before, the daughter asked for a can of tangerines, which her mother denied her. After she
died, however, her mother consecrated a can of tangerines to her memory every day for many
years. Tangerines become a sort of motif, a visual symbol that triggers a sorrowful response
within the reader. While emotional appeals are often considered a cheap way to win over an
audience, Gup’s use of it is effective and respectful because it does not manipulate anyone. It
describes the real, emotional experiences of Shima Sonoda that cannot be downplayed without
insulting her reality.
While Gup’s appeals to emotion are used help the audience understand such realities, he
appeals to their ethics to then send the message that in many ways, they can never understand it
fully. They must trust and rely upon the stories of victims because the audience would never be
able to imagine the magnitude of the suffering at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Rather than inflating
his own credibility, Gup establishes the credibility of two people who experienced the effects of
nuclear weapons firsthand. The first was the woman previously mentioned: Shima Sonoda. One
of many hibakusha, she was described as a “frail woman whose words were carefully measured
and whose emotions had long been contained.”

Although it is common in Japanese culture to be
reserved with one’s emotions, the circumstances here hint that there is more to her contained
feelings than just culture. Her carefully measured words speak to the difficulty of finding the
right words to describe the horrific scenes she had beheld. She and the other hibakusha are the
most credible people to illustrate the effects of nuclear weapons because they lived with the
consequences for the rest of their lives. The second credible witness was Lt. Col. Bernard T. Gallagher. He flew for the Air Force “through a dozen mushroom clouds,” felt the strength of the winds, and observed the levels of radiation to which he was exposed. Though he had not
experienced the same intense physical and emotional agony of the hibakusha, he could not
adequately describe it in his own words, and instead, resorted to quoting the Bhagavad Gita:
“Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.” It may be so that these dismal words are still
not adequate.

Including the experiences of people who were present during the atomic bombings
was essential in earning the trust of the readers. The credibility of the sources leads them to be
more accepting of everything they are being told and thus allows Gup to cultivate a more
compelling argument: the audience should reconsider the validity of nuclear war.
If his previous techniques still did not have ample assurance for the audience, they might
find it in his use of antithesis, a powerful tool of persuasion. He writes regarding President
Trump’s words, “He said it from the clubhouse of a Bedminster, N.J., golf course, a universe
away from Hiroshima’s skeletal dome.” Though the famous dome is the Hiroshima Peace
Memorial, it is a reminder of death and destruction. This example shows the despondency of
Hiroshima in brilliant juxtaposition to a clubhouse at a green golf course, stereotypically a place
where wealthy people entertain themselves without a care in the world.

President Trump is so far removed from the idea of suffering that he cannot have anything of significance to say regarding
nuclear weapons. It was successful in showing that President Trump is not an authority on the
matter. Antithesis is used more subtly here to highlight the contrast between a man who had no
firsthand knowledge of the bombings—in fact, he had not even been born yet—and the others
who had lived it and dealt with it for the remainder of their lives. While this criticism of the
president may not sit well with many people, it is perfect considering the audience. The Washington Post is read mainly by liberals, so by catering to their beliefs and disapproval of the president, Gup’s argument holds more weight.
Gup’s argument was not just about President Trump’s statement about North Korea; it
was about the bigger picture. The real, significant argument is that the use of nuclear weapons
should not ever occur again if humanity wishes to avoid obliteration, which is a topic that
concerns everyone. Its effects have been seen before, and it is important to consider what those
who experienced it have to say.

Although the argument does not have sufficient appeals to logic to
change the minds of proponents of nuclear weapons, it is sufficient to convince those who
already believe in his purpose to advocate for a world without nuclear weapons. He is successful
in persuading them that if they truly believe in the cause, then they would not stand for the
president’s careless rhetoric and ignorant mockery of one of the most devastating events in
history. He would be met with fiery and furious people who would use their voices to effect any
change they can.

Mark of the Beast

Caleb Litster

The Mark of the Beast: Sentence Structure and Imagery in “A Sin” by Brian Doyle

Not uniquely a Christian concept, though certainly weighing on the mind of every
conscious Christian, is the problem of sin. Many differ in how they differentiate between varying
degrees of virtue and vice, and Brian Doyle in his article, “A Sin,” offers his perspective in light
of a recent experience he had with his own son. Doyle employs varied sentence structure and
contrasting imagery in his telling of the event to highlight the mystery and majesty of
forgiveness and to compare the severity of his sin to his son’s. By using these rhetorical devices,
Doyle is able to powerfully and persuasively show the reader that sin is easy and forgiveness is
In the second paragraph of his article, Doyle ignores conventional punctuation in one part
of a sentence to cause those phrases to be read more quickly. While reflecting on his encounter
with his son the day prior, he interjects, “I roared at him and grabbed him and terrified him and
made him cower.” The repetition of these phrases as they appear earlier in the article, this time
without punctuation, shifts the focus from the specific actions he performs to the speed at which
he performs them. While Doyle has much time now to reflect on the incident, he shows the
reader that he had such little time then to think before committing a sin that left him crumpled in
shame. Doyle’s greatest concern, then, is not so much the sin he committed, but how quickly and
easily and unwittingly he committed it.
Doyle repeats this unconventional approach to sentence structure in his last paragraph as
he details his son’s response to his angry outburst. He writes, “He sprinted away and slammed
the door and flew off the porch and ran down the street.” The speed at which this is read and the
words “sprinted,” “flew,” and “ran” are likewise indicative of how quickly the event occurred.
His son was gone in an “instant,” creating a feeling of fleeing as it were from some great evil.

Here, Doyle shows the reader again that he barely had time to blink, let alone think, before he
finds himself alone under the weight of his sin. By using parallel structure in these two instances,
Doyle relates his sin in a moment of passion to his son’s instinctive flight response, showing his
crippling crime and his son’s reflexive reaction to be equally important causes of Doyle’s
unbearable shame and torment.
The fact that this heavy shame can be—and is—absolved is what causes Doyle to state in
wonder, “I do not know how sins can be forgiven.” This sentence, as the shortest in the entire
article, represents the only complete and coherent thought that emerges from his experience with
his son. He makes this sentence short in stark contrast to the rest of his article to draw attention
to it as his central theme. He clips the idea before expanding on it to give the reader a taste of his
helpless awe at the miracle of forgiveness. Doyle isolates this sentence to show the mysterious
effect of mercy on his tormented soul, leaving him, much like Enos, with the singular question,
“Lord, how is it done?” (The Book of Mormon, Enos 1.7).
This question is complicated further as Doyle considers his sin to be colossal in
comparison to anything his ten-year-old son could do. As the reader discovers in several
instances, Doyle uses words like “roared,” “terrified,” “grabbed,” “roughly,” and “snarling” to
cast himself as a monster—one capable of inflicting such fear and pain that would drive his son
out of the house into the woods, sobbing. With this bestial self-image, Doyle assumes his role as
the wielder of catastrophe and the messenger of misery and links arms with the Devil himself,
strengthening his association with some vast, gross sin that seemingly cannot be removed.
In contrast, Doyle uses words such as “holy,” “bright,” “new,” and “innocent” to describe
his son as an image of the heavenly. This evokes strong feelings of injustice and pity toward his
son as the reader thinks of something so terrible being done to someone so incorruptible. Though

his son is, in fact, guilty of his own transgression, Doyle presents him as a pure and innocent
victim to shift the focus off his son and onto himself as the deliverer of this injustice. By
sharpening the contrast between himself as a devil figure and his son as an angel figure, Doyle
exaggerates the enormity of his sin and minimizes his son’s misdemeanor.
Doyle reinforces this idea by reminding his reader that his son is only a boy. He says his
son “committed only the small sins of a child, the halting first lies, … the silent witness as a
classmate is bullied, the insults flung like bitter knives.” He uses the word “child” to strengthen
this concept of innocence and virtue, and associates this child with seemingly trivial actions. This
suggests to the reader that his son—by virtue of his youthful innocence—cannot even conceive
of sin in the same way he can. Doyle uses this image of a child to show that though his son did
commit sin, his sin was excusable and could largely be passed over, but the larger inexcusable
sin was Doyle’s vicious anger.
Doyle follows this up by saying, “Whereas I am a man, and have had many lies
squirming in my mouth, and have committed calumny, and have evaded the mad and the ragged
in the street, ignored the stinking Christ.” Labeling himself as a man, Doyle communicates to the
reader the higher level of accountability and expectation he has for himself. In these phrases, he
also draws direct comparisons between each of his sins and the misdeeds of his son: the “halting
first lies” with the “many lies squirming;” the “insults flung like bitter knives” with “calumny;”
and perhaps the strongest comparison, the “silent witness” with having “ignored the stinking
Christ.” Each comparison takes each childlike offense and transforms it into full-fledged adult
depravity, illustrating that Doyle is not yet the true man he hopes to become.
The phrase “ignored the stinking Christ,” as used in one of Doyle’s comparisons,
immediately grabs the reader’s attention as it seems a sin to even combine those four words.

However, the “Christ” in this phrase is not literal but a figurative representation of a fellow
human being. This illustration alludes to Christ’s own words, as Doyle “did it not to one of the
least of these,” and so “did it not to [Christ],” leaving him worthy of everlasting punishment (The
King James Version Bible, Matt. 25.45-46). However, as Christ explains in this passage, any
wrong done to a fellow human becomes as if that wrong were done to Christ himself. Thus
Doyle’s symbolic illustration actually becomes more literal, and Christ takes the shape of his son
as the holy figure and the victim of Doyle’s degeneracy. By casting himself as a fully-grown
sinner and his son still in the innocence of youth, and especially by casting Christ as the recipient
of his actions toward his son, Doyle again shows how serious his sin seems to him and how little
it matters what his son did to provoke him.
The rushed responses in the heat of the moment and the beast inside Doyle tormenting
the innocent Christ are what strike this “indelible scar on his heart and mine.” Doyle denies
punctuation in two instances to show how sin can come upon anyone so readily and
unassumingly, and contrasts the images of the devil with an angel and a man with his child to
show the maturity of his sin and the unbearable guilt that follows. Then at the heart of his article,
Doyle presents to the reader that though he does not know how it is possible, the solution to the
problem of sin is the Savior. When mercy is offered and forgiveness pled between guilty parties,
hearts are changed and both emerge from the experience as true men. Thus, when a person finds
themselves alone, snared by sin and burdened by shame, they need only remember that
forgiveness transcends wounds of the past and the Savior mends what was broken forever.


Works Cited

The Bible. Authorized King James Version, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,
The Book of Mormon. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2013.
Doyle, Brian. “A Sin.” Portland Magazine, Fall 2005.

Vanishing Night

Emma Lee Adams

The Vanishing Night, Running from Light

When most people hear the word city, they picture flashing lights and the bustling, busy
streets, radiating with life that seems never to sleep. Here, at night, tall buildings with glowing
windows crowd the sky, and street lamps with their occasional flicker illuminate pedestrians and
drivers below, as neon signs beckon them closer. In such a setting, whether in a large city as the
one described, or a smaller city whose light similarly clouds the darkness, viewing the night sky
in its raw and wondrous state is completely impossible. Many view this lack of vision in urban
communities as simply a necessary consequence of modern advancement; others ignore the
presence of such light, perhaps from growing used to it. However, Verlyn Klinkenborg, a
professor at Yale and frequently published author, urges his audience to do something about the
ever increasing light pollution that seems to consume most cities, and only worsens as time
continues. In his article published by National Geographic in 2008, entitled “Our Vanishing
Night,” he illuminates readers of the issues manufactured from light pollution, and indirectly
invites them to change. Through the careful use and attention to the connotation of his diction,
emotionally and logically appealing assertions, and descriptive vivid imagery, he enlightens
readers of the negative effects of light pollution. While his reasoning is sufficient enough to
gather support for his claim using these rhetorical strategies, he lacks success in helping his
audience enact change. Because of this, he is less effective than he otherwise could have been.

Adams 2

Klinkenborg carefully crafts the syntax of his article, giving special attention to both the
connotation and denotation of the words used. He introduces his article with the ironic title, “Our
Vanishing Night.” Generally, vanish and night are used together to describe the diminishment of
light, as used in the familiar phrase “vanished into the night,” rather than the diminishment of
darkness, as used in the title. Vanished in this sense is often used to describe situations in
enchanting fairy tales, or the magical disappearance of objects by an enchanted magician. By
choosing to include vanished in his title, Klinkenborg establishes the idea that nighttime, the
reoccurring bedtime of the sun that is generally viewed as mundane, expected, and uneventful, is
also enchanting. Such word choice unconsciously sparks the attention of his readers as his
passion for the nighttime sky is made evident. When describing human kind’s impact on the
environment, he explains, “we’ve engineered it to receive us by filling it with light.” Using the
word engineered to describe our influence on nature, a word that contradicts anything to do with
engineering, implies that we have changed the way night is innately meant to be, thus
establishing the claim that individuals are intrusive to the ways of nature. Klinkenborg continues
to emphasize this idea by utilizing words such as “spilled,” rather than spread, to describe the
permeating effects of light. In this specific example, spilled connotes a lack of thought and care
given to the issue, and generally is used to describe situations of mistakes and “oopses.” Spread,
on the other hand, would fail to evoke such emotion, because on its own, it is simply neutral- not
blatantly positive or negative. Such attention to the connotation and denotation of his words
throughout the article maximize the author’s effect on his audience, because they are better able
to see through Klinkenborg’s eyes, as each word evokes specified meaning.

Adams 3

In allowing his audience to see through his eyes, he also opens their eyes and in doing so,
speaks to their emotions and their logic. Throughout his article, Klinkenborg uses various
examples of animals that are affected by our thoughtless and excess use of light: songbirds and
seabirds collide with brightly lit tall buildings, opossums and badgers become easier targets for
predators, hatching sea turtles confuse artificial lighting with the light of the moon, and so on. In
doing so, and through the repetitive use of the word we, Klinkenborg places responsibility on the
reader, thus creating a sense of guilt and empathetic desire to rescue these creatures that have
become victims. This tactic is effective because his primary audience, subscribers of National
Geographic, are likely to have interest in animals and other creatures with whom we share this
earth. His secondary audience of general readers is also likely, though to a lesser extent, to feel
such guilt and empathy because it is generally a natural human instinct to feel remorse at the
sight of suffering. While appealing to emotion, he simultaneously appeals to the logic of readers
as well, for the very act of disclosing the detriments of light proves that a solution to the problem
of light is necessary. The simple act of detailing such cause and effect makes readers more
inclined to agree with the author: of course readers do not want to impair the living conditions of
helpless creatures. As the author develops these appeals, readers more readily support the his
While these appeals encourage support in his claim, his lack of appeal to ethos
significantly weakens his argument. Although his education at Princeton and employment at
Yale University prove his intelligence and aptitude, his schooling and current occupation with a
focus on writing do not signify any expertise in the field of science, where this article is based
(De Nicoloa). His passion for the conservation of earth’s material is evident, and his living

Adams 4

experience in both the small town of Clarion, Iowa, and the large city of Sacramento, California
reveal his personal experience in locations of varying light pollution (De Nicoloa). However,
such passion and observation of the sky do not equate to expertise in this specific field. His ethos
is also reduced in his lack of specificity when referencing various studies.When stating scientific
facts, he relies on the support from studies of several “scientists,” only mentioning a specific
study once (“scientists speak..,” “scientists have determined..,” and “[scientists in] a least one
new study [have] suggested…”). The specific study mentioned, by researchers Travis Longcore
and Catherine Rich, is primarily focused on the process of light “[acting] as a magnet” on living
things, and not on the ideas of his article later mentioned. Even if the ideas mentioned later were
included in the study, the study of Longcore and Rich would still lack significance because it
was simply in the “process of being studied,” and not yet complete at the time the article was
published. Because of Klinkenborg’s lack of expertise in this field, as well as lack of specificity
in the research employed to enhance his argument, he lacks full credibility and is less effective.
Though lacking credibility, Klinkenborg’s article successfully addresses that light
pollution is an issue worth fixing, largely through his articulate use of visual imagery.
Klinkenborg’s first obvious employment of visual imagery is seen at the start of the third
paragraph, as he paints an image of the streets of London in 1800 and their “dim collective
glow,” unthreatening and unobtrusive to the world around them. He immediately follows this
description with the modern day “nebula of light,” laying side by side and starkly contrasting the
inviting and pleasurable old world with the dome and “pervasive orange haze” of the new world
that mimics the “glow of dystopian science fiction.” This contrast of visual imagery further
emphasizes the negative result of excess light and its polluting effects in the world. He continues

Adams 5

this contrast in presenting the light polluted sky as a “pale ceiling.” This simplistic but accurate
depiction of the sky is then followed by the description of the world that lies beyond it: “a bright
shoal of stars and galaxies, shining in seemingly infinite darkness.” The concise description and
lack of detail about the city sky, and the elaborate description with poetic specificity about the
universe behind it, again relays the importance of seeing beyond the roof of light pollution, and
encourages readers to unbox themselves, and find freedom “living [outside] a glare of [their]
own making.” In doing so, he successfully encourages readers that changes and improvement
must be made.
Although this change is encouraged, Klinkenborg fails to address how readers can assist
in remedying this issue. While he labels light pollution as the pollution “most easily remedied,”
he also explains that light pollution “is largely the result of bad lighting design,” which most
readers have no ability nor authority to change. His article was not directed towards politicians or
other leaders of the community who might be able to enact such change, it was simply written
for subscribers of National Geographic. Because his paper is presented in a way that elicits a call
to action, or need for change, it is assumed that readers would finish his remarks enlightened in
ways they can help limit light pollution. Instead of providing this specific call to action, he is
only successful up to a certain point. Such success is accomplished through his attention to
connotation, appeals to logic and emotion, and descriptive visual imagery. However, by failing
to achieve his main goal, his audience is merely educated of the need for improvement; action
will not follow.

Adams 6

Works Cited

De Nicoloa, Amantio. “Verlyn Klinkenborg.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 18 Oct.
2018, en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verlyn_Klinkenborg.

Klinkenborg, Verlyn. “Our Vanishing Night.” National Geographic , Oct. 2008.

Letter From Birmingham Jail

Jefferson Jensen

A Letter from Birmingham Jail: To You

In April of 1963, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. found himself in solitary confinement
in Birmingham, Alabama. What did a clergyman do to get arrested? Dr. King led non-violent sit
ins at local businesses and marches, hoping to bring change to what he called “the most
segregated city in America.” There, cameras captured the tragic scene of local law enforcement
blasting protesters with fire hoses and attacking them with police dogs. The events caused an
emotional wave of debate to sweep over the country. It was here, sitting in a bleak barred cell
that Dr. King was smuggled a copy of “A Call for Unity,” a statement released by eight southern
clergymen (seven Christian, one Jewish) on the recent events in Birmingham.
The public statement indirectly condemned the actions of Dr. King and his affiliates,
stating that “such actions as incite to hatred and violence, however technically peaceful those
actions may be” and that any matters of civil injustice could and should be taken through the
courts. It commended the work of the Birmingham police department in “calmly”
keeping the peace amid such conflict. It called for the local Negro community to wait for a more suitable
time to push such controversial topics. On the edges of that very newspaper, Dr. King began
composing what we now know as “A Letter from Birmingham Jail.” In his letter, Dr. King’s
repetition of direct personalized phrases blended with clear imagery forces his audience to be
involved in the struggle. The two most poignant examples, which I will focus on here, are
found surrounding his use of two simple, yet powerful phrases: “if you” and “when you.”

The first, “if you,” is combined with brutal depictions of the events in Birmingham as
Dr. King dissolves the clergymen’s innocence, calling them to action. In King’s rebuke the eight
clergymen and their praise of the Birmingham Police, his language is anything but passive:
I doubt that you would have so warmly commended the police force if you had
seen its dogs sinking their teeth into unarmed, nonviolent Negroes…if you were to
observe their ugly and inhumane treatment of Negroes here in the city jail; if you were to
watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you were to see
them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys; if you were to observe them, as they
did on two occasions, refuse to give us food because we wanted to sing our grace
together. I cannot join you in your praise of the Birmingham police department.
By beginning each phrase with these two short, commonplace words, King establishes a pattern
of speaking directly at “you.” He is not talking to the world. He is not talking to a nation. He is
not talking to a group; he is talking to you. It is custom in public debates, in order to preserve
respect and prevent hurt feelings, that messages are not directed at the individual members of the
opposing parties, but at the parties themselves. Here however, King’s elimination of ambiguity

allows him to put aside the façade of politics and take a unique and forceful one-on-one, man-to-
man approach, right at the clergymen themselves. But why? This emotional advance is a direct

response to the extremely passive and separated tone of the clergyman. These men, who others
look to as moral leaders, attempted to suppress emotion and thus not deal with the pain of other’s

suffering. His use of words like “ugly” and “inhumane” set the brutal scene of police violence
that bypasses logic, affecting the emotions of his audience. It draws upon human empathy almost
begging for help and support. Dr. King makes sure to mention the withholding of food from
inmates due to religious exercises, something that no man, let alone a priest or rabbi can support
with a clear conscience. Dr. King knows that these men feel, but because of their lack of
information, whether by circumstance or choice, they have remained numb to the struggles in
Birmingham. His emotional appeal seeks to tear down the wall of composure built by these eight
clergymen and let them fully experience what is happening in their country.

The second example is seen in the way Dr. King skillfully weaves an incredibly relatable
experience of a father with the driving phrase “when you” to motivate his audience to action.
Here, King shares an experience attempting to connect with moral leadership and fatherhood
backgrounds of the clergymen:

When you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you
seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement
park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when
she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of
inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her
personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; -then you will
understand why we find it difficult to ‘wait’.

By directly referring to “you,” again, Dr. King calls out these religious leaders directly for
destroying the moral code of children by their lack of involvement and overall apathy toward the
civil rights movement. There is something powerful in looking at this from a father’s
perspective instead of a civil rights leader’s perspective. These so-called Fathers, these advocates
for peace, watch helplessly as an innocent child “develops and unconscious bitterness.” Dr. King
is able to show that apathy will not prevent such tragic distortions, but will instead cultivate
negative effects. By putting the issue in terms of something everyone understands, while
detailing the emotional cause and effect that occur, Dr. King creates a reality that one can almost
step into. Fatherhood is something that transcends time and space. It has been experienced by
man since the beginning of time and it is still here today. Muslims, Christians, Jews, Blacks,
Whites—all experience fatherhood. This simple example from Dr. King’s life is able deeply
connect with anyone from any culture. It connects with any age group, in any period of history;
It is certainly still poignant today. King’s use of relatable imagery surrounding “when you”
drives home the need for his audience to act.

Dr. King’s powerful message is directed by his use of “you” In both passages, the
repetition of “if you” and “when you” combined with the vivid descriptions Dr. King paints the
picture of the true events of Birmingham, forcing his audience to be involved in his cause. From
mass experiences of unnecessary and cruel police brutality, to the extremely individual and
innocent experience of a father, he conveys them in a way that the reader cannot hide behind the
façade of false information. Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail directed so
heavily to each of the eight Alabama clergymen still pierces readers today, prompting a need to
act. You cannot read Dr. King’s words and stay distanced. It is as if he grabs you by the

shoulders with “if you” or “when you” and then tells you these eye-opening experiences he has
had, using such eloquent word choice. The struggle, the yearning for equality, the sad effects of
the conflict on children all become a part of the readers experience—you cannot hide from it.
They are now fully aware, and as such are accountable to use their positions to do something
about it. And now, so are you.

Works Cited

Carpenter, C.C.J., et al. “A Call for Unity.” A Call for Unity, King Encyclopedia , 19 Dec. 2000,
Accessed 21 Feb 2018.

King, Martin Luther Jr. “Letter from the Birmingham jail.” Why We Can’t Wait, ed. Martin
Luther King, Jr., 77-100, 1963.
m.pdf. Accessed 21 Feb, 2018.

Christ in Common

Christian Price

Christ in Common: An Analysis of the Circle of Rembrandt’s Portrait

The piece is small. It doesn’t demand attention. The dark colors and simple figure blend
into the museum walls like a figure in a crowd. Looking into the soft lighting, unassertive
posture, and relaxed tone of the figure, it would be easy to imagine it bearing a title like “Man,”
“Father,” “Uncle,” or “Villager.” Instead, this painting is a depiction of The Son of Man entitled
Head of Christ by the circle of Rembrandt. Rather than a plainly glorious Messiah, we see the
gloriously plain Saviour described in Isaiah 53:2: “ For he shall grow up before him as a tender
plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall
see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.”

The circle of Rembrandt echoes the words of Isaiah by showing us a Christ in the flesh that is anything but an eye-catching pillar of
light. Rembrandt and his students’ use of portraiture, composition, and unassuming colors
emphasize that some of Christ’s greatest qualities are not grandiose and untouchable; instead
the artists let the viewer personally come to know how Christ is common, relatable, and meek.
One way that the artist teaches us about our relationship with Christ is through the genre
of the portrait itself. Christ is a solitary figure. There is no background, nor foreground. In fact,
there are no other details in the painting to speak of other than the kind and soft expression on
his face. His gaze is indirect but loving, his eyes are thoughtful but not critical. A portrait like
this serves as a reference to help us remember someone and understand them. In a way, the
subject of a portrait also teaches us how to remember them–by highlighting their most central
qualities. This artist has forgone the standard of portraying a story from the life of Christ, and
instead, wants us to look at Christ himself and who he is. The reference that we find is a
common man: a Nazarene, with perfect empathy.

The intimate composition of this painting naturally leads us to feel closer to the Savior.
This depiction of Christ is not of him teaching a sermon; he doesn’t have any pre-occupying task.
His indirect posture and expression look familial and affectionate. This serves to make him
approachable. The portrait leads us to the mortal Christ and invites us into the scene: it teaches
us softly about what it would have been like to meet the Savior in the flesh, and to get to know
the kind and open character of a humble carpenter; it creates an experience of sitting and having
a personal conversation with the Savior–something that we would usually only dream of. This
painting’s composition creates a distinct vision of the meek and humble character of Christ, the
same Christ who sat down with disciples, ministered to sick children, and wept with Mary and
The near monotone ochre and brown color choices of this piece help to curate this sense
of human kinship with the Savior. The lack of bright colors–namely white–is a strange omission
for a painting of the Savior; we are used to glorious robes bathed in pure white or royal red.
Here, the royalties are absent. The painter has decided to forego the eye-catching splendor of
halos or robes in lieu of something that is more relaxing. The colors are mundane and dirty, but
also warm and familiar. In other paintings, a Savior robed in brilliance, while glorified, is
distanced from the viewer as our own imperfections are glaringly apparent in contrast. Instead
of seeing an unattainable standard, in this painting the viewer sees that Christ and his qualities
are tangible. They see the same Christ who taught Paul, “to the weak became I as weak, that I
might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”
Instead of portraying the difference between the Savior and ourselves, Head of Christ
portrays our Savior’s relatability and the potential we have to know him personally. He has
stepped off his pedestal to be a close and understanding friend and brother. This closeness,
while on the surface is not the most mighty and awe-inspiring principle, is perhaps the most crucial message that an artist could hope to convey. A relationship with Jesus Christ is whatsustains us in a righteous life.

Rembrandt’s students have taken the elements of this painting to
a level that we can feel comfortable approaching and knowing their subject. Though it is not a
Christ that most are used to seeing, it is a Christ that people should see more often. Gaining an
understanding and personal connection to the Son of God is the most noble task an artist could
convey. Christ condescended the world in order to understand us on a personal level. Through
this painting we see that it was not only so that he could understand mankind, but that mankind
to could understand their Savior.