Imaginarium Film Series…

It was last year that I discovered the intellectual (and geeky) fun of The Imaginarium. The Imaginarium is one of the seminar tents but one that is a little different from the others. Imaginarium programs explore how life and faith intersect with pop culture. This year it is examining the politics of racial tension. There is a heavy focus on middle eastern culture, very timely discussion considering what is going on in the world. My favorite aspect of The Imaginarium is the film series.

Planet of the Apes is a film that was made in the 1960s and starred Charlton Heston as Spaceman Taylor. Taylor and his crew crash onto a strange planet where they are taken prisoner by a race of apes. The apes have built an entire society full of class distinctions and prejudices as they have evolved from the lower race of humans.

The movie is actually a commentary on race politics, science vs. faith, and class distinctions. What happens when one race considers another inferior? The movie is a chilling look at our own society’s prejudices.

The discussion that followed the film led us into some interesting places. For instance, the lighter colored apes in the film are the ruling class, while the lower working class are much darker, something I didn’t pick up while watching.

I haven’t fully wrapped my head around everything we discussed in this movie and hope to process more of it later, maybe while watching part 2 tomorrow, Conquest of Planet of the Apes.

It’s Here…

The festival officially opens at 8 PM with Switchfoot’s Main Stage performance, but it is already in full swing. About an hour ago, the merch tents opened up selling all sorts of swag from tshirts, to jewelery, to tattoos (temporary and permanent). Of course there are tons of cds, vinyls, and cassettes. Several booths are giving away free Ipads and other goodies, but if you sign up for those you lessen my chances of winning so stay away! Just kidding, but I signed up for all of them that were being offered. One place is even offering free backpacks to everyone that comes by if you need that. (I forgot one and regretted it these past two days. Thanks Trevecca Nazarene University for solving my problem.)

Things are different this year, but it is still undeniably Cornerstone. I was on the fence about the Main Stage moving to the midway, but it seems to be a good change. It looks great right in the middle of the action. The volleyball courts are moved, but today as I looked out the window from the coverage trailer a large group of kids had a game of ultimate frisbee going; Cornerstone fans are always able to adapt.

The weather is  great, music is loud, food is greasy, lake is cold, and Cornerstone is ready for you. If you haven’t made it out yet, there is still plenty of time left; get in your car and head on out to Bushnell!

A Visit To The Asylum…

At a typical Cornerstone, the goth community often keeps to itself.  Those of us who don’t identify with that lifestyle tend to stay away from The Asylum, the goth community’s tent at Cornerstone. After last night,  I hope that will change some.

The festival program contained a description of what sounded like a unique worship experience, Nailed (To The Cross), so I headed over to The Asylum to check it out. Being greeted at the door with a piece of laffy taffy (trick or treating) and walking beneath a sign that said “Enter if you dare…” I found this rather dark tent (for obvious reasons) ironically inviting. Several people made a point to speak with me and make me feel welcome as I gazed around in amazement at the decor of skeletons, coffins, bats, Heath Ledger’s “Joker”, and artistic renderings of Jesus and icons.  I settled into a seat and waited on the service to begin.

Shortly after 11, the service started up, although it was bit difficult to compete with the loud generator stages next door. Musical instruments were passed out to the entire audience (which consisted almost entirely of non-goths). We then sang through several Taize like songs based on the language of the Psalms, the worship book of the Jewish people and the early church. The energy felt in the room as each person played their instrument for God could only be described as joy, although fully describing the feeling would be impossible. It was clear that the Holy Spirit showed up. After a short evangelical message based on Psalm 22 and a retelling of the Gospel, a pastor led us through communion and the Lord’s prayer.

I wouldn’t call this service goth in anyway, other than being led by people who identify with that community; I think it would be best described as post-modern. It is very indicative of how Christianity is changing. Young Christians are becoming dissatisfied with the way churches are doing things and long to grow deeper in their faith by connecting with the ancient root of it (as evidenced through the singing and use of Psalms in worship). Also evident that this hunger for ancient Christian spirituality exists is the fact that the majority of the audience would not normally hang out at The Asylum.

Maybe I will go back Friday night for the Halloween party…

A Cornerstone Key Word…

When I think of Cornerstone many things come to mind: loud music, elephant ears, seminars, camping, the lake, etc. One thing that often gets lost in the shuffle for me is one that at a Christian event should be a high priority: WORSHIP.

Worship means many things to many people. A common misconception is that it consists solely of a guy or girl playing songs on a guitar while a crowd sings along. That is ONE element of worship. Worship encompasses prayer, scripture, preaching, music, dancing, pretty much our entire lives.

There is no shortage of worship opportunities at this year’s festival. No matter what your church background, liturgical to Pentecostal, you should be able to find something at Cornerstone that fits. Here is a sampling of what can be found:

Catholic Mass- Hosted by the Imagninarium seminar tent, this will take place Wed. – Fri. at 9 am.

Breakaway- Teenagers can worship each morning with a band and speaker just for them. The Alive Band will be leading this year followed by various speakers. As usual, this will be at the Gallery Stage.

Nailed (To The Cross)- This “freeform” service of music, prayer, scripture, communion, and Bible study takes place nightly at The Asylum, the goth tent. Don’t be afraid if you aren’t goth, the services are open to all. I received a warm welcome in there earlier today.

Morning Services/Bible Studies at Generator Stages- The Generator Stages are known for their loud screaming and grinding guitars but a couple of them are taking time out for worship and study this year. Check with the stages to find one. There is also a morning service at the Sancrosanct Records Stage.

11 PM Services at Anchor/Come and Live!- This tent co-hosted by Nashville church The Anchor Fellowship and Come and Live will close out the night with worship music and a speaker from a band. I attended some of their services last year, and they were very powerful.

Community Gathering- The grandaddy of all Cornerstone festival worship services! This year’s service will be held on Main Stage Friday night. Parachute Band will start off the worship followed by a little known worship artist; I believe his name is David Crowder. I sure hope he knows what to do!

These are the ones that are in the official program. If there are any worship opportunities that I have left off, feel free to add them to the comments section.

Most importantly, while at Cornerstone this week, enjoy the music, but don’t forget to nourish your soul and connect with the Savior.

My favorite things about Cornerstone…

Hi, my name is Tim and I am very excited to be one of the blog team for this year’s festival. It’s year 6 for me; I can’t believe in only 2 days I will make the trek from Arkansas to Illinois. There are many reasons to love Cornerstone, so I wanted to take the time to list a few of the things that make it special for me.

1. Discovering a new band you have never heard before. Two of my favorite bands, All the Day Holiday and The Rocketboys, were both bands I discovered at Cornerstone. I can’t wait to see All the Day Holiday this year on main stage. Have a schedule in mind of bands you know you want to see, but make room in that schedule for the unexpected. Both of these bands were discovered by accident and now I listen to them all the time.

2. Asking the tough questions. Cornerstone is one of the only Christian events I have been to where asking of tough questions is encouraged. You may not get an answer, but at least you will discover you are not alone on the journey to find one. My denomination has been experiencing some discord over a hot button issue, and last year at one of the seminars I was able to enter into dialogue with people who had found the same thing happening in their churches. Speak up and ask your questions, you may not get that chance anywhere else.

3. Random meeting of new friends on the food court. Can’t find a seat at a picnic table? Walk up to a table and ask to sit down with strangers. Some of my most memorable conversations have occurred this way.

4. Giant Freezies. I have to have at least one a day, usually more. Give the Rotary Club your support and cool off with one of their freezies. You will be back for more.

5. Films. This year’s film program is scaled back some, but it looks to be a good one. Take a break from the music, and take in a movie and some intellectual discussion afterwards. Music is just one artform in which we can express our beliefs and doubts. Movies can do that in a different way and help us see the struggles that humans face.

What will you add to this list after this year’s festival?