And now for something a little different...

It's 98 degrees in Austin, TX. Winds are SSW running at 1 MPH. Summer is saying hi today, loudly.

It's T-minus 12 days to June 1, my last day on the job as arts pastor.

I have poison ivy. I hate poison ivy, hate it with a maniacal passion. Seven years ago I climbed a tree spun like a scarf with "leaves of three" and I came away with a virulent reaction that left my arms, legs and stomach looking like a boil-infested wasteland. And it wasn't so much the burning, itching, pussing, physical irritation that left me messed up. It broke me emotionally. The boils kept breaking out. I was paranoid. My right leg swelled to twice its size. I leaked pus all through the night for two weeks straight.

Poison ivy freaks me out. And now I have it again and I've no idea where the toxic oils still are. Are they on the door of my car? On my golf bag? On my baseball cap? On my shoelaces? It's life inside an M. Night Shyamalan movie: they could be anywhere.

My sermon this last Sunday was "A Disciple of Jesus is thankful and contented." My text: Colossians. Not a few people pointed out the irony--the providence?--of the timing. I called it "method" preaching. I declared in my opening statement:
"For those who plunge into Jesus' cruciform, resurrected life, there is the sure knowledge that we live under the provision of God’s bountiful hand, extended always in grace towards us. Because of this we are able to live deeply grateful, deeply contented, whether in plenty or in want, in suffering or in strength, abased or abounding."
Poison ivy has abased me. My photographer friend Erin Farmer photographed my episode seven years ago and put it in the Lenten art exhibit.

Art redeems all things.
Phaedra and I went to the ballet last Friday evening. Gorsky's "Don Quixote" was playing. We're suckers for the classical pomp of ballet, and Austin Ballet did a fantastic job, even if it only faintly resembled Cervantes' voluminous masterpiece.
We're about to finish season of three of our latest addiction, Project Runway.

A childhood friend from my Austrian school days has tracked me down through my blog: Rodolfo "Chofo" Caceres. We-ird. I haven't spoken to him in over 18 years. He and I used to ride the same school bus home, 45 minutes long. We'd trade belts and shoes and shirts and see if our mothers noticed. We wore uniforms. It was a private school. I spent an entire week on vacation with his extended family. That's the way things worked in Guatemalan culture. Families did stuff together.
I'm headed to Nashville the second weekend of August. I'll be speaking at the conference sponsored by Artists in Christian Testimony. It'll be great to connect with the artist community in Nashville. Dolly Parton, here we come.
We saw Prince Caspian on Sunday night. It was entertaining but far from enchanting--woefully unenchanting. Phaedra and I feel the Harry Potter movies do such a better job of provoking magical wonder; the good kind of magic of course, the kind that Tolkien and Lewis rattled on about and which surely Adam and Eve felt daily wandering around the first Eden. What a shame. I feel like these movies are being squandered.

Jeffrey Overstreet has performed us a huge favor by summarizing the discussion amongst believer film critics: here. That boy is a machine of a blogger.

The greatest crime of the Narnia movies so far: They don't make me want to live in Narnia, and Narnia is where it's happening; the country of Narnia is what will hold the cinematic series together. Andrew Adamson has completely missed not just the boat but the entire ocean on that one. Let's ask IHOP to intercede night and day for Michael Apted.
And check out this wacky piece of Keith Green nostalgia: a boy wonder at age 11.

The latest book delivery courtesy of Amazon Books to the mailbox ye ole arts pastor:

1. The Beauty of God: Theology and the Arts, edited by Daniel J. Treier, Mark Husbands and Roger Lundin
2. The Arts of the Beautiful, by Etienne Gilson
3. Theology and the Arts: Encountering God through Music, Art and Rhetoric, by Richard Viladesau
4. Religious Aesthetics: A Theological Study of Making and Meaning, by Frank Burch Brown

My latest favoritest word: dumb. I'm saying it eight or nine times per day. A lot of traffic lights around Austin are dumb. The Fantastic Four movie was very dumb. Buying lots of books and never reading them is dumb; my occupational hazzard. I'm not afraid of calling myself dumb. Poison ivy is dumb.

Phaedra and I have had so much fun hanging out the last two days. We're laughing often and it's really quite nice.

Andy Crouch has graciously invited me to contribute an essay to The Christian Vision project. This year's question is: "Is our gospel too small?" I'm really looking forward to working on this. I think I have a good idea of what my answer will be. Now it's a matter of finding the right words.

Speaking of wacky, every once and a while a spirit of absurdity comes over me. I get a voice in my head. I feel it in my mouth, forming into a persona, and I start talking in that voice over and over as I walk around the house folding my laundered clothes, eating a snack out of the pantry, sitting down in my window chair to stare out at the squirrels digging up our garden, talking to no one in particular, savoring the sounds in my ear.
This time it was a German university student from the mid 1980s; likely the University of Tubingen. He's just discovered the novels of David Maine. His English is broken. But no matter, he has teutonic, if also odd-duck because he's been stuck in a library too long, conviction. He has new wave hair. He's wearing my glasses circa 1987.


micah said…
i have poison ivy too and have no idea where it came from! okay, i don't know if i could sit through a lecture on david maine with that guy without needing a shower at the end. strange how he's filming near a shower.... good show, ole chap. thanks for the much needed laugh!

may these last days at Hope be fruitful and fun for you two.

oh, i love the keith green nostalgia. love it.
Project Runway -- this is the best reality program ever (IMHO) as it shows the creative process in such a compressed and ferocious and, um, semi-real way. An excellent G.P....

The last time I had p.i. I felt like it was God's way of punishing me for inadvertently having one too many Margaritas and s lo w l ll y falling & landing on a bright green cushion of it outside our fav. Mexican restaurant. NASTY.

You have a lot on your mind.
i. am. afraid. !. :).
My poison ivy today has died. Mostly. It's breaking out here and there, one boil on my elbow, two bubbly boils on my knee. It's ouuuuuuuut there. But the dead stuff is dying an ugly death. I really should be driving around Austin with my windows down, shouting "Unclean! Unclean!"

I have Keith Green hair today: very frizzy, very big.

Last night we stayed up too late watching P.R. We don't think the designers in season 3 are as interesting as previous seasons.

I just came back from the golf driving range. I spent 18 minutes hitting balls with my 4 iron and my 2 iron. I had just finished two people appointments totaling four hours, I needed a quick people break. I hit ok. An old black dude came up to me as I walking back to my car and said, "You need to turn your thumbs up and down, up and down, like this." He showed me. I tried to imitate him. He grabbed hand and pulled it up and down, up and down. Break bad habits, learn good habits: life.

I'm wearing today a t-shirt that was given to me while I was on vacation with my friend Chofo and his family in the city of Quezaltenango. The t-shirt's from 1984, and a little short around the stomach area.

I don't really know you. Your blog was recommended to me by a friend (Derek McCullom), but I had already stumbled upon it when I was doing a google search for Toddy Burton. Just wanted to drop a line to say I was dying when I watched this video. I had to watch it 3 times. thanks for the laugh.

Matt: nice to meet you. Thanks for saying hi. For the record, my eyebrows don't normally pop up and down when I speak; at least I don't think they do. I may have to ask Phaedra about that. Hm.
I understand your feelings about poison ivy...abased...makes your emotions puss and ooze too!

So what are you going to be doing now that you are no longer an arts pastor?

Found out about the arts symposium through a prayer while listening to IHOP one evening. Had a longing in my spirit to go. But found out too late and didn't have the funds to attend.

The arts came up in our prayer group last night and just ran across your blog again today.

What were some of the results that came from the symposium?

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