“Keep UBC Austin Weird” by Jonathan Castillo

Happy Friday!

I’m writing to you from my hotel room in Shreveport, Louisiana while consuming a Pumpkin Spice Latte from the Starbucks in the lobby (call me “basic,” it’s fine).

I was just downstairs eating my continental breakfast with one of my colleagues in the symphony and we were talking about the peculiar paths we take as we strive to be professional musicians. I began to go on a tangent about how lucky I am to have found a full-time job in music at such an amazing institution. Like I always do, I began to talk about UBC’s history (of which I’m OBSESSED) for a moment, and she stopped me to say: “It is so nice to see a musician speak so passionately and positively about their job… Now continue.”

This was weird. Classical musicians have a reputation for being cynical and negative because we feel “underappreciated by society,” or we deem ourselves seen as an “irrelevant art form” and the list of self-deprecating labels we put on ourselves goes on, and on.

UBC is an amazing place and I’m reminded of this every day I come to work. It seems like I’m learning new nuggets of information about our past that makes me even more appreciative to be a part of UBC. We have a history of being on the correct side of key moments in the life of churches across the country. We have a history of being present for our campus community and being a force for good in Austin.

This is weird.

Three of those five churches that have employed me cannot claim this. They remove themselves from their community as a way of feeling less “worldly” and more pious. They condemn the world around them to help lift themselves up. But what could be more holy than (to quote Daniel) getting our hands dirty in the marketplace? As we heard on Sunday, there really is wisdom there.

UBC is weird in that we seek wisdom from them. From the homeless. From the university. From the donut shop-owner down the street. We understand that we, as a church, are made up of the community around us. Our purpose is driven by the community around us!

So keep being weird, y’all. It sets us apart in the best possible way. As we are looking into our future, let’s remember our impressive past and create an even more impressive future. We’re all passionate about this place. Let’s put that into the world!

With ever-growing love,
Jonathan D. Castillo
Minister of Music and Outreach

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