Yesterday we wrapped up the first (I hope) annual Athanatos Christian Arts Festival. Or, as I prefer to call it, Dragonfest. Here are some highlights.
The strength of the Festival was the high quality content offered. There was far more going on that I could personally attend, but I sat in on writing seminars, music seminars, art seminars, historical analysis, and theology. Needless to say, I had a blast. Joe Courtmanche’s seminar on global threats was sobering and riveting, Rob Cely’s theology of Zombies thrilled, Paul Benett’s first person narrative in costume, no less, of a civil war Johnny Reb was riveting, Hillary Ferrer’s seminar on art not only introduced my daughter to Potato Jesus but also encouraged me in my artistic endeavors, and John Ferrer’s tour de force presentation on the historical paradigms of holocaust lead to a challenging contemporary application. The nerdiest one, which might have been my favorite, was the science fiction seminar lead by Dylan Thompson, which could have been titled Jesus and Philip Dick.
And the music! We heard so much quality live music from Celtic to rock, but what I particularly liked was from classical guitarist Alyssa Caitlin and bass ukulele pop musician Alma, who reminded me a little of Erin Ivey.
This is just the stuff I was able to attend. So much more was going on. I hope some of it was recorded for the interwebs.
I wasn’t only a consumer at the festival, I was also able to share. The opening day I gave a talk on the nature of stories, and then I used the eight 2016 Oscar nominated films as a template to discuss the application of story. Then I pivoted to the Bible, and showed the Bible’s use of these classic story motifs. I finished the with three different takes on the Jesus story in church life today.
In the evening I gave a longer talk, but it was mostly about writers wants and needs–particularly the idea of needing to stretch ourselves in our craft and the importance of taking the reader into consideration. Friday I participated in two panel discussions, as well as a talk on my research about child sex trafficking for The Little Girl Waits.
Finally, I was privileged on Sunday to speak during our worship experience as we walked through the Stations Of The Cross.
The festival was in a field in Greenwood, Wisconsin. I have never been to Wisconsin before, so this was a genuine treat. We drove in on Wednesday from Eastern Minnesota and took the back roads. What a lovely place! It felt like we were driving through The Shire. This thought was reinforced with every Amish horse drawn buggy we encountered.
I ate cheese curds for the first time. They tasted like soggy mozzarella sticks.
There were lots of Green Bay Packer references.
The people were nice–not gregarious like home–not naturally talkative like back home, but they were polite, respectful, and helpful. They kept saying I sounded funny, but I told them I left my translator back home.
The Biggest Payoff
The biggest blessing, though, was spending time with other Athanatos authors–the other horses in the stable–so to speak. Hanging out with Tony Horvath wonderful. He is the mastermind behind the curtain pulling all the levers, the brains behind Athanatos publishing, and getting to spend quality time with him was worth it all.
Looking forward to next year.