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Mystical Realms Newsletter for December, 2007

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  • jef.murray
    Greetings! Welcome to my newsletter for December, 2007. Please feel free to forward this to anyone you think would be interested in keeping up with me! To
    Message 1 of 9 , Dec 6, 2007
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      Greetings!

      Welcome to my newsletter for December, 2007. 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 at:
      http://groups.google.com/group/Mystical_Realms . Notices of new
      paintings and events are at the bottom of this email.

      Epiphanies =========

      Some mornings, when Lorraine and I arrive at the Theology library, the
      lights are still off in the basement book stacks. Peering through the
      doors into these catacombs, all you can see is gloom; the library was
      once a chapel, and the basement is mostly underground. Yellow hallway
      lights sculpt the silhouettes of shelves, with here and there the
      glimmer of a gilded binding.

      Anything could be in there, I'm thinking.

      Advent has me pondering "all things visible and invisible". I started
      down this road thinking of "A Christmas Carol", and specifically the
      scene after Jacob Marley's visit to Ebenezer Scrooge. The latter peers
      from his bedroom window and perceives that the outside air is filled
      with ghosts clustering around those in need. These departed spirits
      are in torment, and, as Dickens says, "the misery with them all was,
      clearly, that they sought to interfere, for good, in human matters,
      and had lost the power for ever."

      Most of the time, Ebenezer would not have seen these spirits…they
      would have remained invisible. How much of reality, then, remains
      invisible to us?

      My sister-in-law has experience casting out demons. At Thanksgiving,
      she told of things she had seen when praying over those who were bound
      by evil. And her words mirrored those of Father Amorth, the Vatican
      exorcist, who has liberated thousands. I've never seen folks writhe on
      the floor to escape being prayed over, nor have I had doors slam as
      demons left my household; yet these things have happened to people
      that seem pretty sturdy to me.

      I suppose, maybe, folks like me have the equivalent of poor eyesight.
      Maybe I'm colorblind to the incorporeal. And I wonder if this is a
      case of not having the faculty for seeing, or whether I've just got
      atrophied? Maybe we all could see spirits, once upon a time….

      I enter the gloom of the book stacks, searching for light switches.
      Each burst of florescence pushes the shadows back, and over and over I
      have to walk forward to confront new ones. There are dozens of
      switches in this dungeon.

      In "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader", C. S. Lewis places his
      protagonist, Lucy, in a precarious spot. She must go into a wizard's
      study, open his spell book, and find a spell that will cause the
      invisible Dufflepuds to become visible once again.

      As she seeks the "visibility spell", Lucy is sorely tempted to utter
      an alternative, one that will make her more beautiful than anyone else
      in the world. This evil beckons, but she does not yield to temptation.
      And, once she finds and speaks the words of the spell she was seeking,
      not only do the Dufflepuds appear, but also the wizard, plus Aslan,
      the Christ figure in Lewis' "Chronicles of Narnia".

      Surprise!

      I'm wondering if seeing angels and demons is like throwing light
      switches. With each burst of light, you get to see something that you
      didn't know was there. Flick! There are the atlases. Flick! There are
      the art books. Flick! There's a copy of "Brideshead Revisited".

      Maybe we only see the things we're supposed to see.

      I'm coming down on the side of atrophy; I expect my "angel vision"
      needs a heap more training. So, during Advent, I'm going to keep my
      eyes peeled for Ebenezer's ghosts. To find them, seems to me all I've
      got to do is flush out folks who are depressed, or ill, or in need of
      a helping hand, then start scouring the horizon for halos.

      And the more I keep gunning for glimmers of the supernatural
      world…that is, the _real_ world…the more I reckon I'll be able to see
      through the gloom.



      Have a blessed and peaceful Advent.

      Nai Eru laitalyë (may God bless you),

      Jef



      Events =========

      - A cautionary article of mine on the film "The Golden Compass" was
      just published in the Georgia Bulletin. It's entitled "Confounding
      Compasses and Malignant Myths', and can be read online at:
      http://www.georgiabulletin.org/local/2007/11/29/myths/

      - This seems to be a month for publication "covers", and I'm very
      grateful to the several editors who have seen fit to highlight my work
      of late. There are currently three new or very recent publications
      that are using my paintings as cover images. These include:

      o The first-ever issue of Silver Leaves, the journal of the White Tree
      Fund (see http://www.whitetreefund.org/ ) will feature my painting of
      "Amon Hen" as its cover image (see
      http://userwww.service.emory.edu/~jmurra2/jefmurraystudios/tolkien/195_Amon_hen.html
      ).
      o The first-ever Heren Istarion Shire Reckoning calendar (see
      http://www.herenistarion.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=category§ionid=4&id=51&Itemid=57
      ) features my painting of the "Tower Hills" as part of its cover image
      (see
      http://userwww.service.emory.edu/~jmurra2/jefmurraystudios/tolkien/266_Tower_hills.html
      ).
      o The latest (Nov/Dec 2007) issue of the St. Austin Review (please see
      http://www.staustinreview.com ) focuses on popular culture and
      includes a number of my sketches, plus one of my Narnia paintings
      ("The Repentance of Edmund") on the cover (see
      http://userwww.service.emory.edu/~jmurra2/jefmurraystudios/tales/305_Repentance_of_edmund.html
      ).

      - I feel greatly honoured to have been asked to develop the logo for
      the MythCon 39, the Mythopoeic Society's annual conference, scheduled
      for August 15-18th, 2008 at Central Connecticut State University. You
      can see the logo at:
      http://userwww.service.emory.edu/~jmurra2/jefmurraystudios/sketches/Sketch_mythcon39_logo.html
      . For more information on the Mythopoeic Society or the convention,
      visit http://www.mythsoc.org .

      - I am delighted to have been named a guest of honour at the upcoming
      Tolkien celebration, "A Long-Expected Party" (ALEP) in Kentucky in
      September, 2008. I was also asked to develop one of the logos used for
      the event. You can see it on my website at:
      http://userwww.service.emory.edu/~jmurra2/jefmurraystudios/sketches/Sketch_ALEP_logo.html
      . The official website for ALEP (and registration info) can be found
      at: http://www.alongexpectedparty.org/ .
    • Jason Fisher
      Jef, Thought-provoking message. Setting aside the points you raise about angel vision , etc. -- not because those questions aren t interesting, but because
      Message 2 of 9 , Dec 6, 2007
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        Jef,

        Thought-provoking message. Setting aside the points you raise about "angel vision", etc. -- not because those questions aren't interesting, but because they might be off-topic for an extended discussion here -- I wanted to raise a couple of questions about your Lewis analogy.

        You wrote:

        > In "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader", C. S. Lewis places
        > his protagonist, Lucy, in a precarious spot. She must go
        > into a wizard's study, open his spell book, and find a spell
        > that will cause the invisible Dufflepuds to become visible
        > once again.
        >
        > As she seeks the "visibility spell", Lucy is sorely tempted
        > to utter an alternative, one that will make her more beautiful
        > than anyone else in the world. This evil beckons, but she
        > does not yield to temptation. And, once she finds and speaks
        > the words of the spell she was seeking, not only do the
        > Dufflepuds appear, but also the wizard, plus Aslan, the
        > Christ figure in Lewis' "Chronicles of Narnia".

        First, does Lucy's temptation here, and the revelation of its possible consequences, remind anybody else of Galadriel's temptation by the One Ring in The Lord of the Rings? Galadriel says: "You will give me the Ring freely! In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a Queen. And I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night! Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain! Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning! Stronger than the foundations of the earth. All shall love me and despair!" Now, I don't think Galadriel is really quite as tempted as Lucy seems to be -- Lucy is on the verge of saying the words, and Aslan himself has to make an appearance in the spell-book to stop her; whereas, Galadriel has fought her own inner battles of temptation (and won them) before the Ring even appears in Lothlórien. But the imagery in the two scenes strikes me as rather similar -- especially where the spell-Lucy's
        preternatural beauty leads to the desolation of "all Narnia and Archenland, Telmar and Calormen, Galma and Terebinthia", which (mutatis mutandis) would certainly have been the same result if Galadriel had taken the Ring.

        Second, if the wizard Coriakin is "good" (as he seems to be by his close association with Aslan), why are there "bad" spells in his spell-book? As you put it, "the evil beckons", but why is there an "evil" spell in his book at all? One might say it's only there to tempt her, but is that an acceptable answer from the theological point of view Lewis was attempting to advance? And related to your point about Lucy's "not yield[ing] to temptation", remember that she *does* recite the spell to eavesdrop on her friends at school. If that is a less "evil" surrender to temptation, it is nevertheless still a moral defeat, no? Aslan chastises her for it, though gently. This scene, too, if I might allude to Tolkien again, reminds me of the temptation to look into the palantír -- a temptation which several characters in The Lord of the Rings *do* give in to. And in both Tolkien and Lewis, what one learns thereby isn't *quite* the whole truth, is it?

        What do you think? Anyone else have thoughts to share?

        Jason
      • Jef Murray
        Jason, Great points regarding Lucy and her temptation. Here are a couple of comments. First, regarding Lucy and Galadriel, I agree that there are similarities.
        Message 3 of 9 , Dec 7, 2007
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          Jason,

          Great points regarding Lucy and her temptation.
          Here are a couple of comments.

          First, regarding Lucy and Galadriel, I agree that
          there are similarities. However, I'm not so sure that
          I agree that Galadriel has fought her inner battles
          _entirely_ without help. See below.

          It certainly does seem that Lucy partially fails
          with the spellbook (and, as with the One Ring, I
          expect that a brush with evil always changes one...you
          are never quite who you were before). It also seems
          that the only thing that prevents her from failing
          further is Aslan Himself.

          But...this is entirely consistent with orthodox
          Christian teachings: that we are often hindered from
          doing what we know is right by fallen nature (witness
          St. Paul and St. Augustine). But, we also trust that
          God will provide whatever grace is needed to see us
          through the difficult times. I think one could make
          the same argument about Galadriel and her refusal to
          take the One Ring. Her success was partly her own (an
          act of will), but it was also aided, no doubt, by the
          grace bestowed upon her by Eru Ilúvatar.

          W.r.t. your second point, about why an evil spell
          would be in a "good" wizard's book, I'm reminded of
          the oft-heard comment that technology is
          neutral...that is, it can be used for good or evil,
          but that it, by itself, is neither (pace, Tolkien!).
          And I expect the same applies to a spellbook (was it
          Tolkien, or Chesterton, who claimed that a
          sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable
          from magic?). So, I assume that for _some_ people and
          in _some_ circumstances, the "beauty" spell might be
          used for good.

          That's my $0.02 worth. But many thanks for the
          _great_ questions/observations!!!

          Eru laita ar tiralyë (God bless and watch thee)

          Jef



          ===================================================================
          Mystical Realms - Exploring the boundaries between worlds.....
          http://www.JefMurray.com
          ===================================================================
        • Margaret Dean
          ... In the end, technology of any kind serves to extend human faculties in some way (or rather, those of its builders; so far the human species is the one we
          Message 4 of 9 , Dec 7, 2007
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            Jef Murray wrote:

            > W.r.t. your second point, about why an evil spell
            > would be in a "good" wizard's book, I'm reminded of
            > the oft-heard comment that technology is
            > neutral...that is, it can be used for good or evil,
            > but that it, by itself, is neither (pace, Tolkien!).

            In the end, technology of any kind serves to extend human
            faculties in some way (or rather, those of its builders; so far
            the human species is the one we know to make extensive and varied
            use of technology, though there are tool-using animals). I think
            Tolkien would agree that evil resides in the human part of the
            equation.

            > And I expect the same applies to a spellbook (was it
            > Tolkien, or Chesterton, who claimed that a
            > sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable
            > from magic?).

            Neither; that was Arthur C. Clarke (In fact, that's "Clarke's
            Third Law").


            --Margaret Dean
            <margdean@...>
          • alexeik@aol.com
            ... From: Jef Murray To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com Sent: Fri, 7 Dec 2007 9:02 am Subject: [mythsoc] Re: Mystical Realms Newsletter for
            Message 5 of 9 , Dec 7, 2007
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              -----Original Message-----
              From: Jef Murray <jef.murray@...>
              To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Fri, 7 Dec 2007 9:02 am
              Subject: [mythsoc] Re: Mystical Realms Newsletter for December, 2007



              W.r.t. your second point, about why an evil spell
              would be in a "good" wizard's book, I'm reminded of
              the oft-heard comment that technology is
              neutral...that is, it can be used for good or evil,
              but that it, by itself, is neither (pace, Tolkien!).
              <<

              In his Long Sun/Short Sun books Gene Wolfe uses the term "black technology" as a direct counterpart to "black magic."
              Alexei









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            • Diane Joy Baker
              I suppose good could be accomplished by making a woman the most beautiful woman in the world; just am not sure what would happen afterwards. Lovely women are
              Message 6 of 9 , Dec 7, 2007
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                I suppose good could be accomplished by making a woman the most beautiful woman in the world; just am not sure what would happen afterwards. Lovely women are definitely treated more positively, but unless one is already a confident and wise-souled woman, I would think the result would be a lifetime's worth of major temptations.---and I don't just mean sexual (tho it's also true that beauty intimidates many men. Note, I did not say ALL men.)

                It would make for an interesting fantasy tale: what would be the out-working of that kind of spell?---djb

                ----- Original Message -----
                From: alexeik@...
                To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                Sent: Friday, December 07, 2007 1:31 PM
                Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: Mystical Realms Newsletter for December, 2007




                -----Original Message-----
                From: Jef Murray <jef.murray@...>
                To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                Sent: Fri, 7 Dec 2007 9:02 am
                Subject: [mythsoc] Re: Mystical Realms Newsletter for December, 2007

                W.r.t. your second point, about why an evil spell
                would be in a "good" wizard's book, I'm reminded of
                the oft-heard comment that technology is
                neutral...that is, it can be used for good or evil,
                but that it, by itself, is neither (pace, Tolkien!).
                <<

                In his Long Sun/Short Sun books Gene Wolfe uses the term "black technology" as a direct counterpart to "black magic."
                Alexei

                RECENT ACTIVITY

                1

                New Members

                Visit Your Group

                Y! Entertainment

                World of Star Wars

                Rediscover the force.

                Explore now.

                Yahoo! News

                Kevin Sites

                Get coverage of

                world crises.

                Endurance Zone

                A Fitness Group

                about overall

                better endurance.

                .

                __________________________________________________________
                More new features than ever. Check out the new AOL Mail ! - http://o.aolcdn.com/cdn.webmail.aol.com/mailtour/aol/en-us/text.htm?ncid=aolcmp00050000000003

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              • Mike Foster
                John Peterson of the American Chesterton Society writes: Arthur C. Clarke: Laws of Prediction : 1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that
                Message 7 of 9 , Dec 8, 2007
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                  John Peterson of the American Chesterton Society writes:
                  "Arthur C. Clarke: "Laws of "Prediction":
                  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something
                  is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something
                  is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
                  2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to
                  venture a little way past them into the impossible.
                  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from
                  magic.

                  P.S. I don't believe the word "technology" was in Chesterton's active
                  vocabulary."


                  -----Original Message-----
                  From: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com [mailto:mythsoc@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
                  Of Margaret Dean
                  Sent: Friday, December 07, 2007 8:18 AM
                  To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                  Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: Mystical Realms Newsletter for December, 2007

                  Jef Murray wrote:

                  > W.r.t. your second point, about why an evil spell
                  > would be in a "good" wizard's book, I'm reminded of
                  > the oft-heard comment that technology is
                  > neutral...that is, it can be used for good or evil,
                  > but that it, by itself, is neither (pace, Tolkien!).

                  In the end, technology of any kind serves to extend human
                  faculties in some way (or rather, those of its builders; so far
                  the human species is the one we know to make extensive and varied
                  use of technology, though there are tool-using animals). I think
                  Tolkien would agree that evil resides in the human part of the
                  equation.

                  > And I expect the same applies to a spellbook (was it
                  > Tolkien, or Chesterton, who claimed that a
                  > sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable
                  > from magic?).

                  Neither; that was Arthur C. Clarke (In fact, that's "Clarke's
                  Third Law").

                  --Margaret Dean
                  <margdean@erols. <mailto:margdean%40erols.com> com>



                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Lynn Maudlin
                  Lucy // Galadriel I haven t read through the rest of the comments on the list yet (sorry--) but I think it bears remembering that Galadriel was a being with a
                  Message 8 of 9 , Dec 10, 2007
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                    Lucy // Galadriel

                    I haven't read through the rest of the comments on the list yet
                    (sorry--) but I think it bears remembering that Galadriel was a being
                    with a lot of experience behind her (rebellion, etc.) and Lucy was
                    still a human child. Not that you are chastising Lucy for needing
                    Aslan's 'presence' to resist the temptation but I think it's worth
                    remembering how young she was meant to be, especially since she is
                    often so spiritually mature.

                    Jef, thank you for posting that - fascinating thoughts, many with
                    which I resonate but I won't go tangential to the list!

                    blessings all--
                    -- Lynn --

                    --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, Jason Fisher <visualweasel@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > Jef,
                    >
                    > Thought-provoking message. Setting aside the points you raise about
                    "angel vision", etc. -- not because those questions aren't
                    interesting, but because they might be off-topic for an extended
                    discussion here -- I wanted to raise a couple of questions about your
                    Lewis analogy.
                    >
                    > You wrote:
                    >
                    > > In "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader", C. S. Lewis places
                    > > his protagonist, Lucy, in a precarious spot. She must go
                    > > into a wizard's study, open his spell book, and find a spell
                    > > that will cause the invisible Dufflepuds to become visible
                    > > once again.
                    > >
                    > > As she seeks the "visibility spell", Lucy is sorely tempted
                    > > to utter an alternative, one that will make her more beautiful
                    > > than anyone else in the world. This evil beckons, but she
                    > > does not yield to temptation. And, once she finds and speaks
                    > > the words of the spell she was seeking, not only do the
                    > > Dufflepuds appear, but also the wizard, plus Aslan, the
                    > > Christ figure in Lewis' "Chronicles of Narnia".
                    >
                    > First, does Lucy's temptation here, and the revelation of its
                    possible consequences, remind anybody else of Galadriel's temptation
                    by the One Ring in The Lord of the Rings? Galadriel says: "You will
                    give me the Ring freely! In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a
                    Queen. And I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the
                    Morning and the Night! Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon
                    the Mountain! Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning! Stronger than
                    the foundations of the earth. All shall love me and despair!" Now, I
                    don't think Galadriel is really quite as tempted as Lucy seems to be
                    -- Lucy is on the verge of saying the words, and Aslan himself has to
                    make an appearance in the spell-book to stop her; whereas, Galadriel
                    has fought her own inner battles of temptation (and won them) before
                    the Ring even appears in Lothl�rien. But the imagery in the two scenes
                    strikes me as rather similar -- especially where the spell-Lucy's
                    > preternatural beauty leads to the desolation of "all Narnia and
                    Archenland, Telmar and Calormen, Galma and Terebinthia", which
                    (mutatis mutandis) would certainly have been the same result if
                    Galadriel had taken the Ring.
                    >
                    > Second, if the wizard Coriakin is "good" (as he seems to be by his
                    close association with Aslan), why are there "bad" spells in his
                    spell-book? As you put it, "the evil beckons", but why is there an
                    "evil" spell in his book at all? One might say it's only there to
                    tempt her, but is that an acceptable answer from the theological point
                    of view Lewis was attempting to advance? And related to your point
                    about Lucy's "not yield[ing] to temptation", remember that she *does*
                    recite the spell to eavesdrop on her friends at school. If that is a
                    less "evil" surrender to temptation, it is nevertheless still a moral
                    defeat, no? Aslan chastises her for it, though gently. This scene,
                    too, if I might allude to Tolkien again, reminds me of the temptation
                    to look into the palant�r -- a temptation which several characters in
                    The Lord of the Rings *do* give in to. And in both Tolkien and Lewis,
                    what one learns thereby isn't *quite* the whole truth, is it?
                    >
                    > What do you think? Anyone else have thoughts to share?
                    >
                    > Jason
                    >
                  • Lynn Maudlin
                    I meant to address this briefly - one could look at the Bible that way, too - there are TERRIBLE situations related in scripture, people do horrible things -
                    Message 9 of 9 , Dec 10, 2007
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                      I meant to address this briefly - one could look at the Bible that
                      way, too - there are TERRIBLE situations related in scripture, people
                      do horrible things - why would those be 'commemorated' by inclusion in
                      scripture? why would God speak such disturbing and graphic analogies
                      to Ezekiel? etc. - I think there is a small correlation between the
                      two: a book of spells is a collection - it may very well have been
                      edited (the worst, most evil removed - this wasn't a *very* bad spell
                      that Lucy resisted, after all) - but more than that I think it goes to
                      free will. Scripture includes horrible stuff *in part* to show us to
                      what base behavior human nature can sink; the spell book includes evil
                      spells *in part* because God (and, in Narnian terms, Aslan) values
                      freewill.

                      Did Aslan interfere with Lucy's freewill when His image came to life?
                      It could be argued but I prefer to think He was reminding her of
                      deeper values that she longed to embrace, that He knew the desires of
                      her heart better than she did.

                      -- Lynn --

                      --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, Jef Murray <jef.murray@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > W.r.t. your second point, about why an evil spell
                      > would be in a "good" wizard's book, I'm reminded of
                      > the oft-heard comment that technology is
                      > neutral...that is, it can be used for good or evil,
                      > but that it, by itself, is neither (pace, Tolkien!).
                      > And I expect the same applies to a spellbook (was it
                      > Tolkien, or Chesterton, who claimed that a
                      > sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable
                      > from magic?). So, I assume that for _some_ people and
                      > in _some_ circumstances, the "beauty" spell might be
                      > used for good.
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