Welcome to my newsletter for January, 2009! 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.
In the staid sects of Asia, there abounds a balking at "becoming".
That is, there is a curious notion that to engage with the cosmos is
conceit, and that the noblest of one's actions must, of necessity, be
inaction. The individual is an illusion, and only dispassion leads to
divinity; only renunciation leads to true rest.
A model for monks, methinks. But what about us worker bees?
"All that we see is a lie," opines the lotus eater. "All is a mask
behind which is the face of the infinite."
There's something to this, of course. From my horribly
politically-incorrect platform as an orthodox Catholic, it seems to me
that the face of God _must_ be masked, lest we all go up in smoke at
His glance. But this isn't what the Orientals have in mind.
Here's the heart of the matter. Can we change ourselves and the world
around us, or not? Is "free will" fact or fantasy?
If all is God, as the Asiatic asserts, then God's got a lot of
explaining to do. Because starvation, eviction, ruination, holocausts,
torture, and war then just become the baubles of some benighted brat.
There are names for such a being, but the Transcendentalists will
thump me roundly if I were to suggest that their Providence was, in
fact, the Prince of Perdition.
But we believe in "becoming" in the western world. If it were not so,
the sages of Self-Help would have to work for a living like everyone
else. But there's something wrong with the way we worship "becoming."
"Let me buy all of my paints and brushes," says the would-be artist.
"Let me then take lessons, and practice, and learn all of the skills I
think I need," he continues. "And then, after great trials and
tribulations, I shall become an artist!"
Sounds about right, yes? It sounds reasonable; even sagacious.
The problem is that it never works that way.
In fact, it goes in the exact opposite sequence. "I am an artist!"
proclaims the wise man. "Once I acknowledge that God has made me what
I am, then I throw myself into my work with a vengeance, trying
different tools and techniques to achieve the vision I hold inside;
only gathering the tools I need as my vision expands. But, I am what
God has made me
it is mine to accept and use His gifts, and mine to
give back to Him and to my fellow men."
In this sense, I agree with the inscrutable Brahmin; there is no
becoming, only epiphany. But I do not agree that acting on that
epiphany is pointless. In fact, it is the very action that is the
point that disproves pointlessness!
In "Til We Have Faces", C.S. Lewis poses the question of masks and of
who we really are. The answer to the riddle of why, perhaps, we do
_not_ "have faces" is found in the observation that, to face God, we
must embrace God. We must embrace who we are, and who we are meant to
be. Until we do this thing, we are not what God intended.
Embracing is the opposite of rejection. Embracing is the opposite of
dispassion. To embrace, one must love, one must leap at life, one must
take a risk. To drop the mask of illusion is to become what God
to take on Christ.
With baptism and with my assent to God, I become a child of God. Not
after gathering prayer books and attending Rosary Rallies, but
instantly. And, like the artist, I will spend the rest of my life
trying to live out my Son-ship as best I can.
But, all of this begins with an embrace, not with indifference. It
begins with romance, not with renunciation.
Nai Eru lye mánata (may God bless you)
- Chris Tolkien, Angie Gardner and I will be in Moreton in Marsh,
England April 3-6 for an exhibit of many of the original sketches for
"Black & White Ogre Country: The Lost Tales of Hilary Tolkien", and to
sign copies of the book. The show is entitled "Lands of Enchantment",
and you can download the flyer at http://www.adcbooks.co.uk/.
- At the "Lands of Enchantment" exhibit, there will also be new
Tolkien-themed paintings by Ted Nasmith, Ruth Lacon, Peter Prakownik
and myself on display, along with Tolkien-themed and fantasy weapons,
clothing, jewelry, etc. There is a by-invitation-only reception and
preview party on Friday night, April 3 at 7:30pm. Please contact Andy
Compton at http://www.adcbooks.co.uk/
if you'd like to attend the
the rest of the weekend is free and open to all with no need
- The Tolkien Library (http://www.TolkienLibrary.com
) has posted an
extensive interview with me on the development of the illustrations
for "Black & White Ogre Country: The Lost Tales of Hilary Tolkien".
You can read it and see a few of the illustrations from the book, at:
- The second issue of Silver Leaves, the journal of the White
Tree Fund (see http://www.whitetreefund.org
) is now out. It focuses
on the Inklings, and somewhat more specifically on C.S. Lewis than the
other members of that august society. The editors of the journal
kindly used several of my Narnia-inspired paintings to complement the
other illustrations in the issue. Please take a look!
- 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