Greetings from a Starbucks in Dallas. I’ve been out and about today, getting ready for the TAC fundraiser tonight. I’ve been away from the keys, and I’m not going to be connected for long right now, so I’m going to throw a few things at you that have been on my mind today.
1. My dear friend Vladimir Grigorenko, an Orthodox iconographer, gave me a tour this morning of the chapel he has been painting for the late Archbishop Dmitri of Dallas. It is stunning. Vladyka Dmitri’s body will be interred here at some future date. The photo that leads this entry is a detail from the interior of the chapel. Here is Vladimir, inside the chapel:
And here is an icon of Christos Pantokrator (Christ, Ruler of All) inside his studio:
You can actually buy these from him. They are not cheap, but they are priceless. I commissioned from him today an icon of SS. Benedict of Nursia and Genevieve of Paris.
Vladimir, a Soviet emigre, and I talked for a bit over breakfast about the situation in our country, and in Russia, and in the Ukraine. He said that we Americans must put our own struggles with the post-Christian culture into context. In Russia, he said, everybody is focused only on their own survival; moral values don’t even factor into people’s thinking. The fact that we are debating moral values at all in this country is a sign of how much more stable and strong we are than much of the rest of the world. He clarified that he’s not denying that we have a difficult time ahead of us, but we should not be apocalyptic; if you want to see what the apocalypse looks like, you can go to much of the world, including his homeland.
2. Here’s a VFYT from last night. I was late leaving Barnes & Noble, but had time to swing by a Mi Cocina and get takeout chicken enchiladas with mole sauce, and eat it in the hotel:
3. I was on Eric Metaxas’s radio show today. Eric and I happen to be in Dallas this week, so I was eager to join him in the studio. I put the correct address into my GPS, to get me from uptown Dallas to Irving — not a far drive at all — and off I went. By the time I got to the end of the route, I was on a country road near Coppell, very far from where I needed to be. Every time I put the correct address in, my GPS (Google maps, on my iPhone) switched it to Coppell. I had to do the radio broadcast from a gas station parking lot in the middle of nowhere. How insane is that? I literally could not get to the studio, because I don’t know Irving, and my GPS would not show me where the studio was. There’s got to be a theological point buried in that.
4. Everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes religion. Lost in northwest DFW, I approached a massive, fancy building that looked like an airplane hanger. It turns out to be a church — a Korean church, with a school attached. Can you believe? In any other city, having a church that big at all would be something amazing. This was a Korean church. There is simply nothing in my experience in the US to compare to the vitality and bigness of the churches in north Texas. I know well that they have problems, the churches in north Texas, but boy, having people who want to be in church on Sunday is not one of them.
5. I love Texas and Texans. I really do. That is all.