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Mystical Realms Newsletter for June, 2008

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  • jef.murray
    Greetings! Welcome to my newsletter for June, 2008! Please feel free to forward this to anyone you think would be interested in keeping up with me. To receive
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 6, 2008
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      Welcome to my newsletter for June, 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 ) or at:
      http://groups.google.com/group/Mystical_Realms . Notices of new
      paintings and events are at the bottom of this email.

      Epiphanies =========

      It's humid, and in the 90s (the mid-30s for folks who favour Celsius
      over Fahrenheit). There's no breeze. It's too early for cicadas, but
      otherwise I'd guess we were in August rather than June. Hills are hazy
      in the heat, and nothing twitches at high noon save flitting flies.

      These are summer days in Georgia; when air is thick and breathing

      My old high school once had a summer work program that allowed poorer
      students (or those who just wanted extra pocket money) to earn some
      summer change. There were paint crews that refreshed dingy dormitory
      rooms, cleaning crews that stripped floors and washed windows. Pretty
      much anyone could get one of these jobs, even overweight bookworms
      such as myself.

      I was in high school during the 70s, when the liberalism of the 1960s
      was coming home to roost. From age 13 to 18, many of us found
      ourselves in a culture that was retooling social, political, and
      sexual mores, and "do your own thing" was the guiding principle. We
      were cast adrift in a sea of hormones at a time when no one believed
      in solid land.

      J.R.R. Tolkien himself had just passed away, and on a hot, Georgia
      summer's day, on a wooded high-school campus that evoked images of the
      Shire, I first opened the pages of The Fellowship of the Ring.

      What I encountered there was startling. This was not a simple story of
      good guys versus bad guys, but a nuanced tale that stressed values
      that perplexed me: values like the deep truth of human dignity, the
      need for restraint, honour, and courage. Like the ghosts in C.S.
      Lewis' The Great Divorce, I read for the "fun stuff," but tried to
      studiously ignore those things that went against all the rules of the
      Love Generation.

      Nevertheless, the seeds were planted.

      Over the ensuing years, I lived out the itinerary of casual sex,
      gluttony, deceit, envy, jealousy, and acquisitiveness that were all
      part and parcel of the "if it feels good, do it" protocol. And if the
      lessons of Middle-earth didn't prevent this, they certainly provided a
      canvas against which the depravity of our generation could be more
      clearly discerned. Like so many teenagers in the 1970s USA, I was
      never given the grounding in goodness that might have guided me more
      gracefully through those tough years. Like so many teenagers then as
      now, I was taught _not_ to believe in the seven deadly sins, and as a
      result, I sampled them all.

      But Middle-earth always beckoned. And the stories of the Shire, as the
      stories of Arthur and the Round Table, would whisper to me on muggy
      summer days from the depths of deep green forests. Here Elves, like
      all noble creatures, continued to walk the open glens, well beyond the
      reach of the house-of-cards zeitgeist of the scoffing seventies.

      In The Return of the King, Eowyn says to Aragorn, "Too often have I
      heard of duty….may I not now spend my life as I will? "

      To which Aragorn replies, "Few may do that with honour."

      Today, with so many of us, I see no belief in honour; I just see a
      continuation of the insanity of the seventies. True virtue is hardly
      ever modeled for young folk in our society, unless they are fortunate
      enough to be raised in a deeply religious home. And even these men and
      maidens are struck on all sides by a culture that seems to have
      collected the worst aspects of the 1960s and 1970s and made them into
      a commodity; corrosive "truths" that are pushed from every TV set,
      every radio speaker, and every movie screen.

      Eventually, I can put it no more plainly that to say that Someone led
      me back to the Shire. And J.R.R. Tolkien became, for me, that human
      being whom I respected enough to listen to, even if my "listening" was
      to his letters, written decades before to folk I would never know.
      Those things that he treasured, I was eventually able to see as sound;
      those things that he found unworthy, I became willing to discard.

      And now, on sultry summer days, I can intensely sense the presence of
      something greater, something more stable, something richer…just past
      those oak trees, and deep within the pooling shadows of the woods of
      summer. I can sense that True Middle-earth trying to tease all of us
      away from the porn sites and the shopping malls and back into an
      adventure that can only be unlocked through virtue, patience,
      sacrifice…and prayer.

      Take a walk in these summer woods. Breathe the ripeness of earth
      growing and mysteries milling. Model nobility, honour, courage, and
      restraint for those around you; and I promise you that, some day,
      you'll find that you, too, will have found your way home to Middle-earth.

      Nai Eru lye mánata (may God bless you)


      Events =========

      - I will be attending the upcoming Tolkien celebration, "A
      Long-Expected Party" (ALEP) in Kentucky, on September 25th – 28th,
      2008. I was also delighted to have been asked to develop some of the
      images that will be used for the event. You can see one of these on my
      website at:
      . The official website for ALEP (and registration info) can be found
      at: http://www.alongexpectedparty.org/ . Some other ALEP-themed images
      o The Party Tree -
      o Outlandish Folk -

      - Although I will not be able to attent this year's Oxonmoot in
      England (September 25th-28th…see
      http://www.tolkiensociety.org/oxon/2008/Info.html ), I will have
      prints and perhaps some original works included in this year's art
      show. These will be provided courtesy of ADC Books www.adcbooks.co.uk..

      - Divining Divinity, the first book of verse by Joseph Pearce, is now
      available from www.Amazon.com. Joseph is a world-renowned biographer
      of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Shakespeare, and many
      others, in addition to being editor of the St. Austin Review (StAR). I
      was privileged to have worked with him to develop illustrations for
      each of his poems, and Leslie Kaufmann did a magnificent job of
      pulling our efforts together into a sparkling jewel of a book. This is
      the book that I highlighted in my talk at "Castles in the Mist", and
      it is now available. If you'd like a copy signed by me, please drop me
      a note.

      - 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

      - The latest (May/June 2008) issue of the St. Austin Review (StAR)
      will focus on 20th Century authors, and it includes a number of new
      sketches, plus one of my Lord of the Rings paintings ("The Bridge of
      Khazad-Dum") on the cover (see
      ). Sample articles and cover image can be seen at
      http://staustinreview.com/category/the-star-archives/currenttissue/ .
      It's a great read, perhaps despite my input 

      - I've revised the thumbnails of each painting on my website to
      reflect whether the original is available for sale or not. If you
      check any of my online galleries (see http://www.JefMurray.com ),
      you'll now see the word "SOLD" in the bottom right-hand corner of the
      thumbnail image of any original work that is no longer available for
      purchase. All paintings remain available as prints however: prints of
      Tolkien-inspired works can be purchased through www.adcbooks.co.uk ,
      and all other prints can be ordered directly from my website.

      - I have added a new button to my website for a "Newest Works"
      gallery. On it you can view the last 16 paintings I've completed,
      regardless of the gallery in which they reside. You can reach the
      "Newest Works" gallery by clicking the following:
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