Sunday, August 26, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #349 (August 26th, 2007)


Sunday August 26 –

A very nice letter from Mike Lovins of Mike Lovins Illustration in Midvale, Utah.

"Dear Dave:

"Thanks for your return letter sent a few months ago. I've been busy with family and work concerns or I would have written you sooner. I've enjoyed FOLLOWING CEREBUS from time to time and think it to be an excellent publication. I thought you had mentioned doing another kind of comic book one day. I wonder what shape it will take."

"I've appreciated your dialogue on religion, and appreciate your interest in this kind of conversation. I've appreciated your views also. There were some thoughts I wanted to present this time out."

"The apostle Paul said that `The gospel has not come in word, but in power.' This statement suggests to us that the transforming power of Christ is not an idea or philosophy, but an actual power, which has an actual effect on us and enables us to overcome our appetites and passions and obtain mastery over us."

That's certainly an interesting thought. As you may have read elsewhere, I view Paul as a commentator. He's certainly the commentator with the most wide-ranging effect on human history of any commentator I can think of – which is why I give thanks for his epistles five times a day in my prayers: where would Christianity be without them? -- but still a commentator. I'd be cautious about subscribing to the view expressed if he meant it (or if the entity informing him at the time meant it) as an undermining of the Word, the Logos, as expressed in the first chapter of John's Gospel. I'm also leery of anything "obtaining mastery" over men when I see men as all having the aptitude necessary to have mastery over themselves and their appetites and their passions. I think there's a real danger there of inadvertently undermining God's Word as the source of all the "reality" we see around us and substituting for it an un-attributed power. There's a lot of power demonstrated in the Synoptic Gospels but most of it, it seems to me, doesn't originate with God but rather with YHWH who I consider to be His adversary. To me it's less important whether Paul said something than it is which entity was whispering in his ear when he said it. Likewise with the Synoptic Jesus.

"David O Mckay said that spirituality is "the conciseness of victory over self and communion with the infinite."

Yes, see: that would be closer to my own view of rightly directed spirituality. You have to be very concise to achieve a victory over your self and it's only through achieving victory over your self that communion with the infinite becomes possible. That assumes that God is the only Infinite Being, but I tend to think that's a safe assumption.

"Jesus said, "But when the comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me". Through the Holy Ghost, we can be sanctified in our nature and commune with the Father. I can bear witness of this experience. The spirit is a calm, affirming experience and does not lend itself to fanaticism. Paul said that no man can know that Jesus is Lord, but by the Holy Ghost, and this is true of any spiritual principle. In other words we can be illuminated by that higher power and become transformed in such a way that we gain power over our appetites and passions."

Okay, well there, that's quote from the Johannine Jesus, but that's a rare instance when I don't think that he's speaking "my lips to God's ear". "The Father" to me is the core Christian corruption because it implies that God is a carnal being and that He engaged in a carnal act at least once in order to produce the Synoptic or Johannine Jesus. For most Christians the fact of Mary's virginity refutes the charge of carnality. If there's no penetration, then no carnal act was committed. But, I think all that does is to move the carnality up the scale into the realm of the higher natures where it becomes even more abhorrent – as if God penetrated Mary's womb with His Spirit. To suggest that the "Spirit of Truth…proceedeth from the Father" is to further compound the blasphemy, suggesting as it does that a Spirit of Truth can issue forth from a carnal being. It's insulting to Truth as an absolute concept that it can find its source in carnality and is insulting to God in that it makes of Him a carnal being. Of course women take to it like ducks to water because it means all males all the way up to God are carnal animals and all women are pristine virgins like Mary.

See, to me, this is one of the core arguments between God and YHWH. YHWH maintains that God had a Father God and a Mother God and He came into being just the way the offspring of all fathers and mothers come into being. The idea that a Spirit of Truth proceedeth from the Father is just too fully aligned with the inherent prejudices of he/she/it for me to give it any credence. The Father is the he, and the Spirit of Truth is either a she or an it or both. YHWH is completely intransigent on the subject so, as I see it, all God could do was to allow a grandiose he/she/it enactment to take place in order to move the discussion forward. The Father, Son and the Holy Ghost points in the same direction. No, my belief is that God is our Creator, not our father. He created self-regenerating life out of dust at the beginning of each epoch. He didn't have sex with the dust. He didn't ejaculate into the dust. As it says in the Koran, He has only to point at a thing and say, "Be" and it is.

Conceptually, God fulfills the function of a good father. I can see nothing wrong with saying "Thanks be to God for His great mercy upon his servants, He who is like a good father to His children and a good shepherd to His flock." There are a lot of good metaphors for the relationship God has with us. But finding a metaphor for that relationship to me is very different from calling Him God the Father or God the Shepherd. To me, Christians aren't nearly wary enough of the kind of blasphemy involved in dragging God down to their own level.

Left untreated (as it has been, in my view, left untreated) it ultimately leads to lunatic things like that Joan Osborne song "What if God was one of us? Just a slob like one of us? Just a stranger on a bus." When you get to the point of calling God a slob I think you're coming pretty close to sunset on the whole Christian enchilada.

God is Great. As it says in the Koran, High may He be exalted over that which the infidels seek to join with Him – many of them with the best of intentions. And we all know what the road to hell is paved with.

"I respect your devotion to the Koran. I had roommates from Iraq for two years and became acquainted with their culture. In my reading of Islam, Muhammad had run into a sect of believers through his wife, that wanted to return to the true worship of Abraham. That true worship is that he sought God, found him, and that through his posterity, the nations of the earth would be blessed. Our belief in eternal life stems from this belief."

Doesn't strike a resonant chord with me. According to non-Prophetic, non-scriptural Muslim tradition it was Angel Gabriel who came to Muhammad on God's instruction, crushing Muhammad in his grip and telling him "Iqra!" "Recite!" and Muhammad proceeded to recite the first revealed Sura, "Clots of Blood".

There was a residue of Abrahamic faith at the time. Perhaps that's what you're referring to. The Kaba in Mecca, the Sacred House was reportedly (again according to non-Prophetic, non-scriptural Muslim tradition) built by Adam and then rebuilt by Abraham and Ishmael, Abraham's first son. According to the same traditions the sacred house was rebuilt in Muhammad's time before he experienced the first revelation.

But by that time, the Grand Mosque which surrounds the Sacred House contained 360 idols – reportedly including a portrait of Jesus and Mary -- and had basically become a pagan cesspit. The Arabs of Mecca had gone from monotheistic faith to the sort of "everybody into the pool" faith that Mother Theresa believed in. Anyone who had a god was welcome to put an image of him or her in the Grand Mosque and join in the annual pilgrimage, the Hajj. An early example of tourism trumping monotheism since the more gods in the Grand Mosque the more followers showed up spending their bucks in town.

"I felt a good spirit when I talked to you here in Salt Lake. That must mean you're living right. I hope we can keep in touch."

I'm certainly trying to live right. I'll find out for sure one way or the other the same time you will, Mike. On Judgement Day.

"As far as Will Eisner goes, while it's too bad there weren't more people there at Pro Con on that workshop, it was my gain, because it was pretty much like an interview. I got to ask pretty much any question I wanted. The man was a class act. One time, on the shuttle back to the hotel, he took time to direct me. I recall all the times he talked, trying to get creators to understand that if they wanted to have good business experiences, they needed to take responsibility for it."

Yes, it's a very tough lesson to impart and one of those where the listener's eyes just start to glaze over because they just want to hear about the magic brush or the magic pen that will make everything easier. It's probably why Will's talk was so poorly attended. People pick up on the fact that what you're teaching is grown-up responsibility and reliability and they tend to steer a wide path around that and seek out people who say "cool" and "awesome" every fourth word instead.

"He will be missed."

He certainly will. Hard to believe he would have turned ninety this year. Just wasn't meant to be.

"I have been working on my own self-publishing project. I ramped up on Photoshop, Quark and bought Illustrator. I had a friend walk me through Photoshop for a year, so even though it's been an adjustment, I wanted to become digital ready. I have four issues penciled and inked, with the help of an inker and have lettered four of the five pages in Quark. So it's gone well, but there's a lot more left to do. Your GUIDE TO SELF-PUBLISHING was helpful also."

Glad to hear it. My own experience with drawing a comic book that would then be assembled on computer – Secret Project I – is that all of the time I would have saved in actual drawing is taken up with logistics and the perverse nature of the computer itself. I think the computer is one of God's opportune little jokes in that it actually takes four times as long to do something on computer as it does to do it by hand – twenty times as long if you factor in the learning curve but it looks like a time-saver. I say "opportune" because I think God timed the computer's arrival to be synchronous with the arrival of feminism so that there would be instantly between four and twenty times as much work for everyone to do because of our faith in computers. That was the only way we could effectively double the size of the workforce with all the women coming in and still have enough work to go around. I suspect, in the same way, we'll "get over" computers around the same time that we "get over" feminism and all future generations can have a good laugh at our expense. COMPUTERS? Dude and dudette – what were you THINKING OF?

"I hope all is well for you and hope the coming month goes well."

I'm not sure what month that would have been. June or July by the looks of it. I got through them okay, I guess. Let's see where I'm at at the end of August when this gets posted.

Tomorrow: a letter from Mike Dawson

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

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