And welcome to my newsletter for January, 2015! Please feel free to forward this to anyone whom you believe might be interested in keeping up with me! To receive these newsletters regularly, drop me an email or subscribe online from my website ( http://www.JefMurray.com ) or at: http://groups.google.com/group/Mystical_Realms .
- “Seer: A Wizard’s Journal” 2nd Edition is now available! Plus, there are bundles of items that include many of the new color illustrations that you can purchase with the book (mugs, bookmarks, art cards, Christmas ornaments, etc.)! To see what’s available and to order yours, see: http://olorisbookshop.com/collections/books/products/seer-2nd-edition
- The 2015 Fantastical Beasts & Beings Calendar is still available! To learn more and to purchase your copy, you can go to my website and click on the Fantastical Beasts Calendar image on the front page slider, or go directly to the following link:
- EWTN broadcast a new special on the Catholicity of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” last month. It aired on Dec 14 9pm and Dec 16 5pm, and a DVD of the program should be available from EWTN soon!
- For those of you who enjoyed “Seer: A Wizard’s Journal”, and for those who will be reading the new, colour edition soon, please note that I am posting episodes of a new epic tale each week on the site www.TheFramerunners.com. The tales that will appear there will include some characters you already know from “Seer”, as well as many new ones. The first story arc in the series, entitled “In the Company of Angels”, can be read at http://jefmurray.com/framerunners/the-stories/.
These tales are suitable for young adults and for all who are young at heart. If you loved The Hobbit, the Chronicles of Narnia, and A Wrinkle in Time, but also enjoy other fantasy tales and science fiction, please come and follow along as we chronicle the adventures of Jill, Sam, Luke, and many others! You can join our email list by going to TheFramerunners.com, or by dropping me a line.
- I will be presenting a Thomas Aquinas college on the trials and tribulations of illustrating the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis in September of this year. Stay tuned for details!
Yesterday was Epiphany, the date on which we observe the coming of the Wise to the birthplace of the Word; the ultimate confrontation of thought with the unthinkable. The term comes from the Greek “epiphaneia”, which means a manifestation or a striking appearance. We use the term to denote a sudden apparition, a cataclysm, a moment of powerful illumination that disrupts our normal way of seeing things.
Such moments are fraught with danger. Epiphanies confront us with events or realizations beyond our usual boundaries. And in such gales of illumination, our dead layers are stripped away, laying us bare. This happens whether we like it or not…whether we are prepared for it or not.
Such is the moment described by C. S. Lewis when the protagonist of his book Perelandra realizes that he is trying to match wits with a demon. This demon can counter his every argument, and is clearly on the verge of causing a second Fall. In a moment, Ransom understands what is at stake, and how ill-equipped he is to prevail.
Such also was a night I remember long ago, when I was on the phone with my best friend Robert. We went on to become co-Valedictorians of our high school class, but that night, we were trying out our nascent philosophical wings. This was the 1970s, and with the winds of secularism that came with those times, even so-called Christian high schools were importing teachers who scoffed at faith. Robert and I were both nominal Christians, but that night we struck on a thought. What if there was no God? What if God was simply made up by frightened
people…a comforting illusion in a merciless void? A vast vacuum filled only with careening stars that guided no one?
- K. Chesterton asserted that we were given a mind by God not so that we could constantly question, but so that we could discern Truth…so that we could clamp our teeth down on something real and hold tight. But often we would rather not follow the paths laid out before us. We think it’s easier to try to get along, to seek comfort, to seek safety, to seek mediocrity.
That’s when Epiphany often forces us to choose.
While watching The Fellowship of the Ring recently, a friend’s daughter asked why Frodo didn’t just throw the One Ring away when he realized the dark riders were after it. Chris saw this as a teachable moment. He explained that if Frodo had thrown the ring away, he might have saved himself, but he would have put all of Middle-earth into greater peril.
This is the crucial point. As Gandalf says, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” But decide we must, and how we decide tells us, not the nature of our adventure, but the nature of ourselves.
Epiphany hangs us on the razor’s edge of choice. And each choice brings us closer to truth, goodness, and beauty, or closer to nihilism, hubris, and cynicism. With each choice, we embrace the Light or flee from it.
It is my prayer that, with the coming of our individual epiphanies this year, we will make the right choices; that we will recognize our failings and limitations, yet will find the strength to choose the best path rather than the safest. And I pray that we remember, as Sam Gamgee did in Mordor, that there will always be things that are pure, that are good, and that are worthy of striving for, even if they sometimes seem beyond our reach.