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Mystical Realms Newsletter for July, 2008

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  • jef.murray
    Greetings! Welcome to my newsletter for July, 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 , Jul 8, 2008

      Welcome to my newsletter for July, 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 =========

      In the Deep South, we're so steeped in the macabre that it becomes
      invisible, rather like a print gathering dust over the mantelpiece.
      The pervasiveness of the grotesque and the bizarre in my homeland
      reminds me of the old riddle about who discovered water. The answer?
      Anyone but a fish. When you swim in strangeness, you never see it.

      So, I'm wondering about all that weirdness down my way. And it's got
      me questioning the seeing and the not seeing, the "what's real" and
      the "what isn't".

      "Haints" are a tradition in Dixie, and sometimes the realest stuff can
      be the hardest to nail down. Ralph C. Wood wrote a book entitled
      Flannery O'Connor and the Christ-Haunted South. I don't know Wood, and
      I've not read his book, but the title teases me with lovely admixture
      images of big tops and baptisms. There's a perky seediness evoked by
      such a title. We'd like to think life is clean, straightforward,
      antiseptic. But, on a day-to-day level, life down here seems more
      ornery than orderly.

      When I was a teenager, I attended tent revival meetings at the old
      fair grounds in Rome, Georgia. These usually lasted about a week, and
      each night the preachers focused on a different scriptural or pastoral
      theme. Sweaty, balding men testified to their coming to Jesus on a big
      stage while others would pray for and receive healing for diseases,
      deformities, deficiencies. Folks were struck dumb by the power of the
      Holy Spirit, fainting away into the soft sawdust scattered on the
      Georgia clay.

      My family was packed full of "intellek'shuls", so there weren't many
      chances to discuss such things. They were just there…laid out in front
      of one to accept or not. Were the healings real? Or just some devilish
      proof of the Fall? Were the preachers saints, or just some bevy of
      bamboozlers preying on the hopes of the hapless? "And thus I clothe my
      naked villainy / With old odd ends stolen forth from holy writ / And
      seem a saint when most I play the devil." - Shakespeare

      But this stuff is what we waller in all the time down in my part of
      the world. I've relatives who continue to go to tent revivals. The
      healers are different, but the message is the same. You can scoff if
      you will, but for believers in "all things seen and unseen", you
      always scoff at your own peril. St. Francis called himself the
      Jongleur de Dieu…God's fool. And, like him, if you mention such things
      as prayers posited or miracles manifested, you run the risk of being

      Yet, despite politicians who scoff at those who "cling to guns and
      religion", these things are, in some sense, more real than almost
      anything else. There are many fears in life: some truly are "haints",
      bogeys left over from childhood. But others are worthy of your
      attention…always have been, always will be.

      Down here, we fear the intrusion of giants into our affairs, knowing
      that giants, whether they spring from corporate, or government, or
      criminal loins, are myopic. They tend to stomp on smaller folk. And a
      gun won't stop a giant, but it might make him take notice.

      We also fear God, and this because, although we love God, we also know
      that sometimes God has to use uncomfortable means to get us do what
      needs to be done.

      But perhaps more than giants or the Almighty, the thing we ought most
      to fear, yet do not, is that hubris that proclaims that the devil…the
      biggest "haint" around…does not exist.

      Flannery O'Connor spent a lot of her writing life "unmasking the
      devil" to a world that no longer believes in him. And it makes for
      pretty uncomfortable reading, knowing that the lion roaring through
      the night roars for thee. But I'd rather know the lion is out there.

      And maybe that's why folks down here always seem a little different to
      outsiders. We're a macabre peoples, perhaps because we've examined the
      "enlightened" world and found it wanting. Offered the choice of
      Faustus by a world that doesn't believe in Mephistopheles, we stick by
      what we know, even if it is, seemingly, grotesque.

      So, if I'm laughed at by more "enlightened" folk, people who claim
      they aren't "hainted" by the reality of evil, I'll continue to cling
      to my guns and to my God…and to say a prayer for those who believe in

      Nai Eru lye mánata (may God bless you)


      Events =========

      - There are seven new paintings up on my website at
      http://www.JefMurray.com ! These include six Tolkien works (Nimrodel,
      The Houses of Healing, Este the Gentle, Entwash, Beorn, and The
      Landing of Elendil) , one new sacred image (Cana), and one painting
      from C.S.Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia (The Wood Between the Worlds).
      The easiest way to see all of these is to go to my "Newest Works"
      gallery by clicking the link below. The latest images are at the top
      of the page:
      . Do let me know what you think of these! I'm delighted to hear both
      accolades and criticisms!

      - The newest (July/August 2008) issue of the St. Austin Review (StAR)
      (please see http://www.staustinreview.com ) is entirely devoted to
      J.R.R. Tolkien. The table of contents, plus one article (specifically
      on the women in Tolkien's legendarium) are now available for free PDF
      download. The issue features cover by Ted Nasmith, plus artwork
      throughout by Ted, Alan Lee, John Howe, and...er...myself. Please
      spread the word! This issue should be a real delight for Tolkien fans!

      - It is looking increasingly likely that I will be hosting at least
      one talk/panel at this year's Dragon*Con (D*C) conference in Atlanta
      on using art (and prayer!) to explore Middle-earth. More details will
      be announced closer to Labor Day weekend, but in the mean time, you
      can find out the current D*C Tolkien Track details at
      http://www.TolkienTrack.com .

      - 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 attend 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
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