Series of Tubes Details

I tried something new as I painted this illustration. I wanted to paint the details in a specific order so that the progression would tell a story of sorts, and reinforce the message of the final image. I started with an empty background and the character praying in middle, all alone. Then the tubes and pipes slowly grow and morph around him until finally they surrounding him, screaming in unison for attention.

Some Notes

The phone in the picture was originally going to be an old-timey stock ticker. I changed it at the advice of my wife, who convinced me that no one would know what it was supposed to be. (Although it won't be much longer before rotary phones are in the same boat.)

I took the photos for the initial stages with my phone, so the quality is not as good as the image of the final version.

Here's the finished illustration.

Time for a Refresh

Wow, it's been a few years. Sorry about that. I'm hoping to invest more in this site now. I've added a section for illustrations to show some paintings I've been working on with more on the way. I won't go into too much detail about future plans right now because it really sucks to say something is coming soon and then not be able to deliver on it.

The good news is that even after several years, I'm still pretty happy with the site design as it stands, so I don't feel obliged to spend a lot of time doing a redesign of it. It's much more fun to be able to focus on creating new things than constantly revising old ones.

I'm trying to keep focused on Christian art, design, and culture, and to that end I've pruned a lot of old blog posts that are no longer relevant.

Stay tuned...

Virtual Reality Introversion

Look ma, no dignity!

I'm pretty sure that in my lifetime virtual reality systems will become commonplace. They may not be at a level that's indistinguishable from reality but they will be good enough that people will spend a lot of time in them.

Seeing how obsessive people get today with MMORPG's like World of Warcraft, or even environments like SecondLife that aren't even based on a "game", it's pretty certain that a significant part of the population will just check out if given halfway convincing virtual reality.

There has always been a contingent of the population ready to check out in various ways. And while some people are naturally prone to some form of addiction I think this will affect vast numbers of people who would otherwise be considered normal as far as their addictive qualities.

I read an interesting article that speculates – theology aside – that the reason we've never encountered alien races is because after reaching a sufficient point in development, technological cultures will delve inward on themselves and focus on entertainment and gratification rather than self-improvement and exploration.

What should be our response as Christians to this eventuality? Will there be missionary groups sent to reach the lost souls trapped in this man-made "Purgatory". Would we be called to spend time in the virtual world to interact with these people. How would we prevent these missionaries from going native and being consumed themselves. (i.e. "in the virtual world but not of the virtual world".) If we refused to participate would we be seen in the same light as the world now views the Mennonite groups who eschew modern-day technology?

I'm not trying to imply that VR is inherently evil or that spending time in it would be much different than other forms of entertainment Christians currently partake in.1 But somehow this seems like something that would be more pervasive in its potential to absorb people rather than just a part-time dalliance. But maybe I'm just being a fundamentalist Luddite who can't accept the inevitable.

  1. That raises a different issue about the amount of time that we already spend on frivolities.

Moses Had Horns?

Horny Moses

It's true. Moses used to have horns. Sort of.

In the early 5th Century, when Jerome translated the Latin Vulgate, he misinterpreted the story of Moses' encounters with God at Mt. Sinai.

Exodus 34:29-35 describes Moses as having a supernatural radiance to his face after each encounter with God. The effect was so striking that it frightened the Israelites and he donned a veil to hide his face from them.1

When Jerome translated this passage into Latin the part about Moses' face being radiant, or emanating rays of light was mistranslated as him having "protruding horns".

"Radiance emanating from his face" became "horns protruding from his head".

Artists of the time seized on this esoteric idea and all depictions of Moses from this period show him sporting little goat-like horns.

Long after this mistake had been accounted for, artists persisted in using the horns to depict Moses because it served as such an iconic device for identifying him. The most famous example being Michaelangelo's sculpture created for the tomb of Pope Julius II.

So for a time, Moses had horns.

  1. It would seem that in our fallen state we are not prepared for even a reflection of God's true glory.

Dennis Jones' See With Me Bible

See With Me Bible

Last month on Easter Sunday we were the sponsors at the baptism of our friends' baby boy, Jacob. As a gift Jennifer picked up a children's picture Bible called the See With Me Bible, illustrated by Dennis Jones. I was blown away by the quality of his work.

Jones' style is lush, whimsical, and filled with humor. The Bible stories are told solely through the illustrations with no accompanying text except for a short one-sentence message at the end of each story.

The most notable feature of the illustration work are the character designs. Each character depiction is unique and easily identifiable, from Adam and Eve, Noah, and Moses through Jesus and the Disciples. They're all painted with exaggerated poses and features, each with their own subtle nuances.

While the exaggerated characters are what make the work so appealing, I found the depiction of Jesus to be a little over-the-top. He looks too much like a comic book super hero.1

Jones paints in gauche and post-processes the illustrations in Photoshop, adding a few digital effects like depth of field blur.

Many of the illustrations from the book are available online as prints. I may have to pick up a few.

  1. I struggle with our Westernized stereotypical image of Jesus. While we can only guess at what Jesus looked like we do know he wasn't a white guy. This is a topic not easily resolved, especially, I imagine, when trying to publish a children's book.

The More You Know

The season of Lent is full of many special days, each with their own designated title, beginning with Ash Wednesday. Holy Week itself is ushered in with Palm Sunday. Then there's Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and finally Easter Sunday.

But what is the name of today, the Saturday that comes between Good Friday and Easter Sunday? Although I've never heard it mentioned, it turns out that Holy Saturday or Black Saturday are the traditional names for this day.

So there you go.

I Used To Believe

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 1 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV)

I recently came across I Used To Believe, a site full of the strange and humorous ideas people remember from childhood. I was surprised that so many similar fantastic ideas are arrived at independently among children. I never really realized that child logic, which is such a separate and independent form of cognition, would deduce so many similarities between individuals.

Here are a few of my own childhood ideas that I recalled while browsing the site:

  • Reports of Guerilla Warfare on the news conjured images of soldiers fighting armed gorillas in the jungle.
  • The television PSA's against Drinking & Driving pertained to any drink, and I scolded my mom for drinking a Pepsi in the car.
  • Every intersection in the city had a control room beneath the street filled with municipal employees whose job was to monitor the traffic and change the stop lights accordingly.

Free Books

Anyone not as fortunate as I am to own Seattle's largest book collection may want to check out these resources for free books.

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg is the largest repository of downloadable ebooks, all in the public domain. Anything from The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci to Alice in Wonderland as well as several translations of the Bible.


If reading lots of text on a screen isn't your thing, BookMooch is a site for trading dead tree books with other people through the mail. You get points for adding books that you'd like to give away. Then you can use those points to get books from other people. You can create a wish list and the site will notify you when someone has added a book you're looking for.

I've traded about six books so far. The only cost is in shipping a book to someone else, but the Post Office has a special 'book rate' that amounts to about $2 a book. It's a much better deal than you'd get at most used book stores.

Share and enjoy.

Modest Discovery

I've often wondered what would happen if there was a true discovery of a lost book of the Bible. Rather than something revelatory that would devastate the foundations of the Church it would probably be a modest work that would simply enhance what is already in the Bible.

Last year when The Da Vinci Code movie came out there were a lot of stories about the “Gospel of Judas” and other so called "lost" books of the Bible. Although the media portrays these as sensational events, biblical scholars know that these are not books that were lost, but were widely known about during the time the Bible was canonized. These writings were rejected because they didn’t conform to the true message of Christ. They weren't lost or forgotten about -- they were thrown away.

Even in their own lifetime the original disciples of Jesus had to spend energy combatting heresies that were creeping into the Church. In particular, much of the Apostle John’s writing was in response to the growing problem created by gnostic beliefs disguised as Christianity.

But what if there was a newly discovered work that could conclusively be proven to have been written by an Apostle, such as Paul? If it matched his writing style, and if the work didn't offer any new revelations (or blasphemies) but merely supplemented his other writings, what would be the response of the Church?

Would we accept it into the canon of Scripture or would it forever be a curiosity, a humble footnote. Perhaps we would accept it, believing that "in the fulness of time" God had revealed more of his Word.

Either way, I'm sure that some publishers would be quick to market a "Bible 2.0".

Childhood Misunderstandings

Precious Moments

When I was little, before I could read, I thought that the line in the Lord's Prayer "And lead us not into temptation" was actually "And lead a snot into temptation". By my child logic it stood to reason that because snot is usually undesirable we were asking God to bring a spirit of snottiness unto whatever would try and lead us astray.

I thought it was strange that everyone rattled this line off every week in church, but that I'd be asked to change topics whenever my conversations became preoccupied with this bodily substance.

When you're a kid, you're forced to accept a lot of things that don't make any sense. You think you'll understand better when you grow up. I'm still waiting for that to happen.