Welcome to my newsletter for November, 2008! Please feel free to
forward this to anyone you think would be interested in keeping up
with me. To receive these newsletters regularly, please drop me an
email or subscribe online from my website (http://www.JefMurray.com
. Notices of events are
at the bottom of this email.
There are 5 new paintings posted on my website, including one
religious work, "Pilot", and four Tolkien-themed paintings; "Ascent",
"Sam & Rosie", "Lightning on Weathertop", and "Enthouse". You can see
all of these by clicking:
I welcome your thoughts and comments on these new pieces!
Troubled times are coming. Just as Treebeard saw his world change, so
are we about to see ours.
Right now, just before the elections in the USA, I see so many who are
afraid. The old bylaws are broken: banks are going bust, world markets
are whiplashed. Enormous crowds gather, hypnotized, hoping that a new
leader will bolster balance sheets and forestall foreclosures.
You can feel it in the earth; you can feel it in the water; you can
smell it in the air.
Bad times are not new. And elections will not change them. The fruits
of foolishness must be born, and in a few years, the messiah elected
today will be the ousted and disgraced demagogue of tomorrow. This is
the nature of idol worship
what was once thought divine becomes
despicable. Hell hath no fury
But, the flip side of the impotence of the elected is that we can all
see where the real power lies, and that is with God and with each other.
The last long lesson of lack was taught to us in the 1970s, when I was
in high school. Then there was no such thing as a personal computer,
few folk had color TVs, and most new cars were compacts because of
skyrocketing oil prices.
My family lived in the country, and since we were only able to pick up
a couple of TV stations, we had to make a lot of our own
entertainment. We read a lot, but we also gardened, raised dogs and
rabbits, collected eggs from the wild chickens that ran in the
pastures. We hunted and fished. We wrote stories and drew comics. We
gathered muscadines to make jelly, and I tried my hand at making peach
wine from the syrup my stepfather brought back from the school
lunchroom. This latter attempt ended in a spectacular explosion, and
my childhood bedroom to this day smells like fermented peaches when
the weather turns wet.
But what I learned during the stag-flated seventies was that it was
always more fun to _create_ than to _consume_, to ponder than to be
pandered to. It was always more exciting to _give_ than to _get_. But
from 1982 on, all the world seems to have forgotten these things. All
the world now worships the idol of consumerism, and that idol, like
the idol of the messianic politician, will fall.
The best and most important things in life do not require credit
cards. They do not require big brazen bureaucracies and multi-billion
dollar bailouts. They do not require the clever counsel of a new
The best and most important things in life are love of God and love of
neighbor. And as the world changes and our credit cards are cancelled,
we may find ourselves rediscovering both. We may learn how to once
again trust in God to help us through the rough spots. We may learn
how satisfying it can be to care for friends and family. We may learn
how interesting our neighbors are once layoffs or the need to mow our
own grass gives us the time and opportunity to get to know them.
We may, as a result of these changing times, rediscover what Frank
Capra and Angelo Pellegrini once taught us: that lean years can be our
happiest years, and that bad times can sift souls and feed one's faith.
The world is changed. The next president will disappoint and
disillusion those who worship him now, as all false idols do. And the
pain of lost homes and layoffs will certainly be real. But we will be
the ones who decide whether these pangs are harbingers of havoc or of
healing; of ruin or of rebirth.
May God bless you and yours in the lean and happy years ahead
- The Northeast Tolkien Society (NETS) folk have announced the
availability of their 2009 Tolkien calendar. This year, I was asked to
contribute the cover design and B&W sketches for all of the interior
calendar pages. The other images used in this year's calendar are from
Catherine Karina Chmiel and Colin Williams, both of whom are gifted
artists whose work deserves greater exposure. You can order the 2009
- A recent book cover design project has finally come to fruition.
Visionary, a suspense novel by Michael Hallman, has just been released
by Tumblar House (http://www.tumblarhouse.com/visionary.php
). I was
privileged to have been given the opportunity not only to read this
intriguing mystery before publication, but to design the cover for it.
Tumblar House is making a name for itself by publishing books by
Catholic and orthodox Christian authors that might otherwise be
rejected by secular publishing houses because of their religious
content. Please check them out!
- The good folks who brought us A Long Expected Party in Kentucky have
just announced the availability of souvenirs from the event that
include the use of four of my painting images (The Road Goes Ever On,
Outlandish Folk, Many Paths to Tread, and The Party Tree). Mugs,
steins, T-shirts, etc. can all be viewed and ordered by clicking on
the following links:
- John Ottinger is a very gifted blogger and reviewer of sci fi and
fantasy books. He and I met at this year's Dragon*Con, where he asked
me for an interview for his online blog, "Grasping for the Wind". You
can read the results at:
- ADC Books now has an online catalog featuring Tolkien-themed
original paintings and prints from Ted Nasmith, Ruth Lacon, Peter
Pracownik, and myself. In addition, you'll find collectible items and
rare books featured in the ADC Books catalog. Please take a look at