Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Dave Sim's blogandmail #107 (December 27th, 2006)





The Honking Great Box from Salt Lake City continues with the second Mormon Devotional someone handed me on the trip. Oh, right—you knew there was a reason you weren't going to read the Blog and Mail today.

Anyway, the second one was called "The Probationary Test of Mortality" by the Elder Bruce R. McConkie (January 10, 1982) and I find the same problem with what I see as borderline and "over the line" blasphemy:

Our revelations say that when that situation exists where the speaker speaks by the power of the Spirit, and the hearers hear by the same power, perfect worship results.

But isn't it reasonable to suggest that what is perceived to be a situation where the speaker appears to be speaking by the power of the Spirit—but isn't—and the hearers hold a consensus view that the speaker is speaking by the power of the Spirit—but that consensus view is mistaken—doesn't that qualify as a "blind leading the blind" scenario? Especially given that there is no objective test of when the Spirit is present and when everyone present is just selling themselves individually and collectively a bill of goods?

There's a lot of interesting theorizing in the text that dovetails with my own best thinking on the subject of the nature of reality—that we were all "with God" at some point in the primordial past and whatever happened led to us being "without God": my own view is that this was the Big Bang. It goes that far back. But it's my own view, my own gut reaction to the subtext of scripture. I wouldn't pretend to describe it as "a true gospel verity" as Bruce R. McConkie does at one point in his text. Unless you're a prophet, I don't think you have any business using terms like "a true gospel verity" about what you've chosen to believe. It's the thing I find the most troubling about religious people in general. To me, unless you can start a sentence about God or about your faith or your beliefs with "I may be completely wrong, but…" then I think in a real sense you are behaving and speaking in a blasphemous fashion, you are pretending that you have knowledge that you don't have and that means that you are pretending to be an equal footing with God. I just don't buy the idea that a congregation full of people fervently praying for you to be attuned to the Holy Ghost is going to make you any more attuned to the Holy Ghost than anyone else. It very well might (I may be completely wrong, but…) but it's just not in the same category as, say, short wave radio reception. "Elder McConkie's coming in clear as a bell tonight—last week he was a little `static-y'." You can certainly say "I'm picking up Elder McConkie clear as a bell tonight: my gut instinct tells me that the Holy Ghost and Elder McConkie are just peas in a pod tonight". But if the guy sitting next to you thinks that Elder McConkie is just chewing the scenery as usual I don't think there's any definitive test that's going to tell you which perception is the more accurate. I read the Devotional and it seemed like a standard issue tent-revival speaker and crowd group psych. There were a couple of paragraphs where I pricked up my ears and thought, that's interesting, I wish he had described his impressions of that more elaborately. But I don't have the sense that God was suddenly speaking through him or that if I responded to that part then I have to seriously re-examine myself to see where I went so severely off the beaten path that the rest of it just seems like self-important gibberish. It either resonates with me or it doesn't. And there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I would have been better served reading actual scripture for the hour or so that it has taken me to read and then re-read these Devotionals.

But, I do appreciate the individuals who gave them to me. Thanks, guys!

And rounding out the show with three complete amateurs (let me rephrase that) and rounding out the show with three aspiring cartoonists who gave me their comics at one point or another during the Salt Lake City trip, there's

#1 – JJ Cano with Utah Languish #11:

1994: Jim Weaver has been moved, with his family, to Utah where he will complete his high school education. He isn't happy about that, and is not looking forward to making new friendships. Despite that, however, he is befriended by the enigmatic Madeline (Maddy) Farmer, a survivor of a suicide attempt, who he ends up spending inordinate amounts of time with sluffing, going to lunch off-campus, among other places…

It's continued. Now I'll probably never find out what happened between Maddy and Leo and whether or not she and Jim stay "just friends". www.thx3811.1@...

#2 – Jeff Chapman's Very, Very, Very Scary Comics #6. This guy has a really pretty cartoon style which is well suited to this shaggy dog tale that he wraps up in a block of text on the last page. Oh, well. He had me up until that point and it didn't cost me anything so "Two enthusiastic thumbs up!" Dave Sim. jeff.chapman@...

#3 – Mike Lindsay's 24-Hour Comic (18 pages). I forget why I called Mimi on 24-Hour Comic Day, but I asked her who had the most pages done and it turned out to be Mike (who was on page 6 at that point) so I asked to speak to him and—what do you know?—I ended up being part of his 24-Hour comic. He also offered to make a computer program featuring my lettering style: I still have to get around to sending him a couple of alphabets for my standard lettering and for my modified Abe Kanegson (Will's old Spirit letterer) display lettering. I wonder if Starkings' Comic craft would be interested? I mean, theoretically I'm supposed to be a good letterer, right? Post-issue 186 according to the comic book field, lettering was the only thing I was good at. So wouldn't it make sense that there was a computer font available of Dave Sim's lettering style? No, I didn't think so either. That would diminish the intent behind the comic-book field considering me a great letterer which was to indicate that I was no good at anything else. You can't turn a politically-correct insult into a revenue source, I don't think. But major thanks to Mike for putting together an EC lettering font (SPA FON!) for me. If I ever get around to doing my EC parody story I've had in mind for a while, well, it'll be right there waiting for me thanks to Mike! And I might send him my alphabets anyway. Who knows? I might need the Dave Sim lettering style for something someday! Right now I'd rather use Joe Kubert's font.

Okay, and that's a wrap on the mail for this week. See you tomorrow or in three weeks as the case may be. Theoretically, I've just started my next commission today after three weeks of intense work on my secret project (and, God willing, my commentaries on Mark).






If you wish to contact Dave Sim, you can mail a letter (he does NOT receive emails) to:

Aardvark Vanaheim, Inc
P.O. Box 1674
Station C
Kitchener, Ontario, Canada N2G 4R2

Looking for a place to purchase Cerebus phonebooks? You can do so online through Win-Mill Productions -- producers of Following Cerebus. Convenient payment with PayPal:

Win-Mill Productions

Or, you can check out Mars Import:

Mars Import

Or ask your local retailer to order them for you through Diamond Comics distributors.