working out an idea

I’m working on an idea.  I’ve mentioned it before, and I’ve worked through a couple of iterations, since.  The idea has evolved significantly, as I’ve worked, and thought, considering the meaning and the purpose of such a project.  And the meaning of my life, and of my work, in general.  I like the direction it’s taking.  Don’t know how capable I’ll be of either selling it, or of marketing it -each of which holds unique challenges- but I’m going to keep working on it anyway.

I’ve been vaguely considering designing a custom deck of cards, akin to tarot cards, for many years.  I’ve never really wanted to simply design a tarot deck, as so many others have done before me, simply putting my own artwork on the traditional 72 cards.  This has something to do with my understanding about about divination works, and what part cards tend to play in it (not to mention the other roles such cards tend to end up playing on the side).  I’ve wanted to not just create artwork for an existing system of divination, but to create a new system from scratch.  A wholly original deck.

Of course, I’m aware that Leviticus 19:26 makes it clear that God would prefer if I didn’t practice divination at all.  The context that Isaiah 2:6 gives divination is as a “superstition from the East.”  I’d effectively given up the practice a few years ago, after a brief, intense period of giving in to the temptation, but it’s been on my mind again, lately.  Not in the context of wanting to do readings or divine knowledge/wisdom/future, but in wanting to design the cards, and to publish a book explaining them.  So I started designing.  I want through a couple of interesting ideas, did dozens of sketches, and decided to go a different direction.

I’ve been working on steering my creativity in a direction toward more Christian writing.  Not entirely effectively, yet, but I’ve been trying to at the very least avoid going further in the direction of the sex, violence, and apparent lack of morality that the Untrue Tales From Beyond Fiction was pointing me in (though that changes character in the final books).  I have a partially completed book that literally explores the concept of the unforgivable sin mentioned by Jesus – with violence, sex, action, and all sorts of other apparent sins (and exploration of the meaning of ‘sin’) along the way.  I would like to write several explorations of the complex, interesting, and challenging things I have found in scripture and in my own Christian walk.  But first, I think I’ll start with something unconventional:

I’m designing a deck of Christian cards, and writing a book to explain them.  As I conceive it now, I expect the book to have three pain parts: One part, the expected breakdown, card by card, of how to read the cards for divination – what this one means, what it means ‘reversed’, how to lay the cards out and to interpret them.  One part, a theological and biblical exploration of divination, ‘Eastern superstition’, and related new age beliefs as a temptation for modern Christians, especially as for new Christians who prior to being born again practiced such things.  One part, an alternative breakdown, card by card, that uses the deck of cards as a sort of flash cards for learning about Jesus, Christianity, and the early church.

Part of the idea (which will certainly be included in the book) is that most things of this world are neither inherently good or evil, but it is our individual choices, day by day and moment by moment, that we do right or wrong.  That we imbue the things of this world with the good or the evil that we do with them.  A deck of cards -the ones I am designing, or any deck of tarot cards- is not evil.  It is not a tool of the devil, in and of itself.  It can be used to do evil, but the cards themselves are not evil.  If I do a good job designing them, if I write a clear and well-organized book, both of which I believe can only happen through him who gives me strength, then my cards will be able to do good by those who choose to use them for good, and to likewise allow those who choose to do so to use them for divination.  A tool.  A choice.

The production, distribution, and sale of the book is easy for me, right now.  I’ve got 10 books in print already, and adding one only takes a couple of weeks, once it’s written.  The production, distribution, and sale of the cards -especially as part of a bundled item with the book- looks challenging.  There are several options for getting the cards printed.  I could pay for a huge offset run, warehouse them somehow…  There are a couple of companies that will do short-run decks of cards (hundreds instead of thousands or tens of thousands of decks).  I found one place that will do “print on demand” of custom cards, but not like POD book printers do -they aren’t doing wholesaling, retailing, distribution, and won’t do one-offs-  but they’ll print as few as 10 decks at a time, and they’ll print (but not assemble) deck boxes, too.  And I found a place that sells microperforated playing card paper, so I can print a test deck or two on my own printer.  So I’ll probably go with that last one at first, get the cards how I want them.  Then go to the POD printer and get a small order (they have a price break at 50 decks) & have a matching print run at Lightning Source (who also has a price break at 50 copies of a book).  Then try to get them carried by Christian and new age stores, I guess.  

I’m considering some options like:  Putting the book out with a high cover price & one page being a coupon you mail in for a free deck of cards.  Doing all the distribution myself, so I can bundle them manually, and don’t have to worry about people who buy the book through other channels & don’t get the cards.  Writing the book in such a way that it stands alone, without the cards, but tells you how you can order the cards, and using the same distribution setup I have for my other books.  And… uhh… do you have any other ideas?  I’ll be thinking about it for a while.

The current plan is to do the research (ie: read the bible, concordances, and other bible resources) so I can write 2-4 pages (minimum) for each of the cards (at least 1 page for each of the two parts that break down each card), and to paint an individual painting for each card’s art.  I’m hoping to do each painting 8×10″ or less, so I can do a high resolution scan with equipment I already own, do additional work in Photoshop as necessary, but then to have an original painting for sale that corresponds to every card.  To make packaging & distribution easier (and because it fell together in the designing of the deck), I’m doing a 52-card deck, currently as follows:

  • 5 ‘Major’ cards: God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Death, & Devil
  • 14 Apostles cards: 1 per apostle, including both Judas & Matthias and Paul
  • 11 Miracles cards, each featuring one of Jesus’ miracles
  • 11 Ministry cards, each featuring one group of people to whom Jesus ministered
  • 11 Message cards, each featuring one basic, foundational, repeated part of Jesus’ message

I think the hard cards will be the Apostle cards.  I need to do the research, but I’m pretty sure there are a few of the apostles there isn’t two pages’ worth of information about in the bible.  Hopefully I’m mistaken.  Either way, I’ll have to figure out how to represent each of them visually – I plan to research how they’ve each been traditionally and historically depicted in the last two millennia.  Still, they effectively represent 14 paintings of “a man,” which, if you’ve seen my art, you know hasn’t exactly been something I’ve been perfecting.  So probably 14 abstracted expressions of what each man represented or something they did or … inspired by whatever was used to depict them historically.  Your suggestions are, again, welcome.

I have a list, a flexible, mutable list, of what I expect the 52 cards to be.  I’m thinking of creating 52 blog posts -perhaps in a separate instance of WP, or perhaps merely in their own category- one for each card, where I can write out my explorations of the concepts.  I’ll have to think about that, too.  What do you think would work best?  Are you interested?  What would hold your interest?  What would annoy you about blogging it?  

Up late again.  Didn’t do any audio work today (now I’m not actually “ahead” of the podcast, anymore – a lot of recording done, but no finished episodes ready to go from here on out), but absolutely have to do some tomorrow.  Who wants to try to get me up in the morning?  Say, around 8?  sigh.

Ecclesiastes 7:1-4 – Wisdom for Life

(New Living Translation)

Wisdom for Life

1 A good reputation is more valuable than the most expensive perfume. In the same way, the day you die is better than the day you are born.
2 It is better to spend your time at funerals than at festivals. For you are going to die, and you should think about it while there is still time.

3 Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us.

4 A wise person thinks much about death, while the fool thinks only about having a good time now.

Luke 2


I recommend you read the original version of Luke chapter 2 for yourself (linked above).

Just a quick summary today:

So, the Romans are doing a census, and Mary and her husband-to-be Joseph go the 6miles up the road to Bethlehem to register. Everyone else in the house of David is in Bethlehem to register, too, so there’s no room at the inn, and they stay in a manger. They probably weren’t the only ones. Mary gives birth to Jesus.

An angel of the Lord appeared to some shepherds in a nearby field and told them a Saviour, Christ the Lord, had been born. The angel told them where and how to find the Saviour. The heavenly host appeared briefly to sing of God’s glory. The shepherds went to see the baby Saviour and spread the word of what they had seen. Mary was unphased by the shepherds appearance, or what they said.

On the eighth day they went to circumsize Jesus, and they ran into Simeon. Simeon, you see, had been shown by the Holy Spirit that he would see the “Lord’s Christ” before he died, and was basically waiting around in the temple to see him so he could die. Simeon was “Moved by the Spirit” when he saw Jesus, sang a song praising God that he could finally die having seen the Saviour, then prophesized about Jesus’ life to come.

That same day another prophet, Anna, who had been widowed after 7 years marriage and who then spent the rest of her days fasting and praying in the Temple until she was 84 years old, came up to Mary and Joseph and Jesus and gave thanks to God and talked to everyone around who was hoping that God would send redemption to Jerusalem.

Finally, Mary and Joseph returned from Jerusalem, where the circumsicion et al had taken place, to their home in Nazareth. Jesus grew up a bit.

When He was 12 and the whole family went to the Feast of the Passover in Jerusalem, Jesus stayed behind when His family began the trip home. After a day’s travelling, Mary and Joseph noticed He wasn’t with them, and they turned back to try to find Him. Another day’s journey back, and a third day searching and they found Him studying at the Temple with the rabbis and biblical scholars. They asked Him why He’d treated them that way, and He asked them why they didn’t look for Him in His “Father’s house”. Then he was obedient again and went home with them and all was well and he grew up some more.


Yep. That’s Luke chapter 2. Quickly, anyway.

Bible Study

So, that last post is the first of what I hope is a long, long list of posts I make as I try to study the entire Bible. I’ll try to study at least a chapter a day most days. This is something for me, for my own understanding, since I’ve never actually read every single book and chapter in the bible. The “summary” I wrote is also primarily for me; if I can re-write it in my own words, I not only know that I’ve gone through the whole chapter in enough detail to understand it, but I can go back in the future and see what I wrote, see what I was thinking. Then if I have an additional interpretation at a later date, or a more refined understanding, or if I personally want to cross-reference something, I can go back and add comments (or updates to the post) to extend what I’ve said.

And hey, if you read my summary and disagree, you’re welcome to comment yourself. And if you read part of it and want to read more, there are links to the original verses, so even people without their own bible can read along with the actual text instead of my interpretive summary of it. As always, I encourage you to read the bible for yourself in whatever (or as many) translations as you are comfortable with, and make your own choices about what it’s about.

Oh, and hey, if there is another religious text that you think I should be reading (such as the Koran or the Book of Mormon or the Mahabarata) and would like to donate a copy of the book to me (and/or link me to a website with the full and easy-to-access text), I will certainly consider reading up to three such texts concurrently at approximately the same rate, and with the same level of personal study, and with my own reading posted on the site as well as a link to (or quote of) the original source. I was raised Christian, but I’m glad to study other religions with an open mind.

Luke 1


I have just read Luke chapter 1 in three translations (linked above, though I read mine from paper editions), and I encourage you to read at least one version of it rather than just my quick summary, which follows:

So Luke starts by saying that many people have written accounts of Jesus’ life, and since Luke has investigated “everything from the beginning”, he thought he should put together his account of it for … uhhh… some guy named “Theophilus” whom historians don’t really seem to be able to agree was really a specific person and not “one who loves God” as is the meaning of that name.

Then he says there’s this older couple, living in the hill country of Judea, named Zecharaiah and Elizabeth. They are upright people, but they don’t have any children, so they’re looked down upon by their community. One day, when Zechariah’s name got pulled out of a hat (or however they chose lots back then), and he was changing the incense at the altar by the “Most Holy Place” in the temple, the angel Gabriel appeared to him and told him that he would have a son. Zechariah didn’t believe him, so Gabriel made him mute (unable to speak) until after the baby was born and named. Gabriel told Zechariah that his son would never drink alcohol and would be filled with the Holy Spirit before he was even born, and that he would bring many people back to the Lord. Since he was mute, Zechariah couldn’t tell anyone what he’d seen, but he tried to communicate with hand gestures. Elizabeth became pregnant and went into seclusion for five months, and was totally happy that she would no longer be disgraced as childless.

Then in the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, Gabriel went to Mary to tell her she would give birth to a son. And not just any son; her son would be named Jesus, would take the throne of David, rule over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom would never end. She was a virgin and was pledged to be married to Joseph, and she didn’t understand how that was possible at first. Then Gabriel told her she would be “come upon” by the Holy Spirit and overshadowed by the Most High. He also told her of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, as if to impress her. Mary was not phased at all, and had no more questions.

Mary went straight over to Elizabeth’s place, where she stayed until Elizabeth gave birth three months later. As soon as Elizabeth saw Mary, the baby in her womb jumped and filled her with the Holy Spirit, and Elizabeth knew that Mary was pregnant with the Lord and that Mary had believed Gabriel immediately and without question. Mary sang a song praising the lord.

When Elizabeth gave birth, everyone wanted to name the boy after his father, but Elizabeth said he would be named “John”. Apparently this was a ridiculous thing to say, but when they asked Zechariah, who still couldn’t speak, he wrote on a tablet that the boy should be named “John”. This was apparently even more ridiculous, because the entire region of Judea gossipped about it. Luckily, Zechariah was once more again able to speak, and he sang a song praising God and prophesizing about his new son.

Then, apparently Elizabeth and Zechariah died and John lived in the desert until he was about 30.


Yep. Luke chapter 1. How about that?