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.