CHRISTIAN ARTS FESTIVAL: THE ATHANATOS EXPERIENCE

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.

13907106_10208371083546124_6509306871502119677_n
ACM Authors Michael Pape, Joe Courtmanche, Anthony Horvath, and Greenbean holding the Mic

Incredible Content

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.

My Presentations

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.

Wisconsin

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.

NFL CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS

Now for something I know very little about—the National Football League.  In principal I believe people have an unhealthy obsession with sports in our culture, but, what are you going to do about it?  So, in an attempt at “if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em” I thought I would make my predictions for this weekends NFL Conference championship games.  The winners of these two games will represent their conference in the Super Bowl. 

            AFC—Pittsburgh Steelers hosting the New York Jets

            Pittsburgh will probably win this game because the officials love Pittsburgh.  If you don’t believe me, just ask Seattle and Phoenix about their encounters with Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl.  It is impossible for Pittsburgh to not win once they make the Playoffs.  For that reason, I tend to want to root for New York.  The Jets have not been to a Super Bowl since Joe Namath and the famous guarantee.  But I can’t stand their coach.  He is such the antithesis of good sportsmanship. 

            NFC—Chicago Bears hosting the Green Bay Packers

            This old school battle from the heartland of America feels right.  The Bears have a great defense and they are playing on what might be the worst field turf in the NFL.  This will offset the advantage that Green Bay has on offense.  Green Bay has a smell of Cinderella on it, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t come up with the victory, even on the road.  Chicago should win, but that doesn’t mean Chicago will win.

Now, there are several X-factors for me as I think about the games.

  •  X-Factor One:  The Cheese element.  My passion for cheese tells me that I can’t root against a team whose fans are called Cheeseheads.
  •  X-Factor Two:  The NFL wants big market teams in the Super Bowl.  This means New York and Chicago will win. 
  •  X-Factor Three:  The Favre.  New York and Green Bay have ties to Brett Favre.  It would be great if both of his former teams made the Super Bowl in the year he finally retired.  This would then be labeled the “Favre Bowl.”
  •   X-Factor Four:  It all comes down to the beards.  Mark Sanchez has a great beard.  http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/jets/mark_sanchez_beard_love_it_or_hate_OivX9R2D6NNVcHXUO0KpKI  It looked kind of trimmed last week, but the week before that against Indianapolis I saw a shot of him and I had instant admiration for a man who could grow such a beard.  In the end the Fellowship of the Follicle is the deciding factor. 

 

Keep I mind, of course, that I will probably not watch any of it.  I want to finish watching Season Two of the original Star Trek that I got on DVD from my wife for Christmas.  Nevertheless, my Final Prediction—Jets beat Pittsburgh by a hair, Green Bay beats Chicago on a last second field goal that is “Gouda.”

******Update, Monday Morning January 24.  I was 50% accurate with Green Bay beating the Bears, but the Jets did lose to the Steelers.  But, did anyone notice the great beard Roethlisberger was sporting.  I mean, that was pretty amazing.  Let the record reflect that only bearded quarterbacks won yesterday–Aaron Rodgers had a pretty good full beard too.  The Fellowship of the Follicle will always prevail.********