Watching us grow up

As I blogged about earlier, coming home from Cornerstone is always hard for me. There’s something wonderful about that little piece of farmland that makes it feel like a little glimpse of heaven. Now that I’m home, if I had to pick a theme to summarize this year at Cornerstone, it would be watching the festival continue to grow up.

Bands growing up

Seabird's Aaron Morgan, and his daughter. Photo by Steve White for www.cornerstonefestival.com

This was my fourth year to see Seabird play Cornerstone, and their sound has matured each year. These guys have been coming to Cornerstone for years, even before they became a band. Seeing lead singer Aaron Morgan bring up his adorable little girl, “to see Daddy make music” was a beautiful moment for this band that I hope to see in an evening show at the festival every year from here on out (and which I will be seeing in my home town of Austin, TX tonight!).

Another growing-up moment was found in Don’t Wake Aislin, a band that’s also been around Cornerstone for several years. This year, in addition to the well-executed generator stage shows, they put on a fun show at the Label Showcase. These guys & one girl seem to know a thing or two about how to get people into their music, with creative ideas like using fortune cookies to promote their shows and being friendly with fans on twitter and other social media.

Eisley, a band that returned after an 8-year hiatus, also ranks in my list of growing-up moments. I sincerely hope their label & CD release issues get worked out soon, since I’d love to see more new material from this very talented family! I think this show marks a good growing-up moment, not just for the band to return, but for the Millennial generation (the generation after X) to be more represented in major evening slots at the festival.

The festival itself

Two weeks ago, I would have predicted that the Main Stage move would be the talk of the fest, but it really wasn’t. Everybody ran with the changes, which I think demonstrate how Cornerstone is growing up again, in ways that will help keep the fest viable for the long-haul.

I see the festival growing to accommodate the democratization of music. So many bands aren’t label-dependent anymore (and may hardly associate with the “Christian Music Industry” whatever that is these days). And, they’re not all just coming to Cornerstone as one stop on the festival circuit. So, I see Cornerstone growing to have places for these bands to play (with all the improvements to the generator stage area, changes to encore tents, etc.)

I also see the festival growing to accommodate how we, as listeners, enjoy music. The first major map change since the festival moved to the Cornerstone Farm reflects how I see most people enjoying the fest these days. Attendees aren’t just plopping down at one tent and staying there all day; we’re wandering from show to show, catching moments of one band and moments of another. The revised map makes that a whole lot easier. It also greatly helped sound-bleed issues, so soft sweet music (like at the Chelsea Cafe) wasn’t overrun by equally-passionate musicians singing hardcore.

The festival is continuing to grow to be a place for the American church of tomorrow. The Youth Leader Oasis and seminar & Imaginarium topics are excellent ways to swap stories and encounter the big ideas about what’s next in the American church. I’m excited to see how the fest will continue to tackle those big ideas.

And… the personal side

Cornerstone 20ten was another year filled with amazing friendships. I drive to Cornerstone with just my husband (who I actually met at the festival in 1998 – here’s a photo of us from this year’s coverage) and we spend the week with friends from all over. It’s always good to see each other face-to-face (normally we only interact online) and see what has changed. I sit by my sister-in-law at most evening shows and get to know her better. I talk to my friend Heather who works with JPUSA’s shelter and get inspired for community & causes (and quilting!). I laugh with friends and re-remember that I’m not alone. Cornerstone is a moment to mark how thankful I am that God put all of us in a place to grow as individuals and grow together through Cornerstone.

I love how Cornerstone is becoming this kind of community for even more people – it’s not just us internet geeks who find lasting friends there: it seems to be happening for the next generations, too.

I’m happy to have been part of Cornerstone 20ten and look forward to seeing all of us continue to grow up next year.

Movie Zombies…

What really sets Cornerstone apart from other festivals is the abundance of things to do that are not music related.  One Cornerstone tradition that developed a few years back is the Bad Movie Night. Geeks gather in the Imagnarium tent long after the seminars are over for the day to laugh at and make fun of extremely bad movies. Past movies that have received the honor of being chosen for this screening include Frogs, Plan 9 From Outer Space, and this year’s movie: Troll 2.

Troll 2 has nothing to do with Troll 1, has no trolls in it, and was made and written by people who spoke English as a second language. They insisted the all American cast (it was filmed in Utah!) follow their poorly written script EXACTLY as it was written. What ensues is a complete ripping apart of the English language coupled with very amateur acting.

The basic plot goes like this: the ghost of a little boy’s grandfather warns of vegetarian goblins who haunt the forest and feed humans a potion in order to turn them into vegetables so they can eat them. Conveniently, after this warning, the family goes on a vacation to the remote, woodsy farming community of Nilbog (try spelling it backwards).  You can guess what happens from there.

After this movie, a documentary about the making of the film was shown: Best Worst Movie. This movie follows the actors around 20 years later as they try to embrace or escape the small group of rabid fans who see them as stars. The documentary states that Troll 2 is the Rocky Horror of this generation, a film so bad you can’t help but watch.

After all the laughter died down and the documentary played, one realized that these actors are people struggling to make their living and live their lives like everyone else. It added a real human touch to the film. While we had a riotous time laughing at these people, it was eye opening to realize most of them didn’t even realize they were in a bad film until they saw it themselves on HBO or VHS.  Some of them are embarrassed by what happened; one, like the dentist from Alabama who had the most memorable line in the entire movie, embraces it; the mother from the film was perhaps the most touching as she has tried to escape the fame and spends her days taking care of her disabled mother.

Both the film and the documentary were a hilarious eye opening look into the desire of the human spirit to create art in its many forms. While I don’t think this film could be considered art, it certainly has developed its fan following and continues to pack out theaters (and tents at funky little music festivals).

If you get a chance to watch the film, enjoy it for what it is, a very badly made movie, and whatever you do DON’T DRINK THE MILK OR EAT ANYTHING OFFERED TO YOU BY A GOBLIN IN THE WOODS!

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.

Sandy Ramsey: Listening to the Homeless

This is the first and final part of Sandy Ramsey’s seminar track from Cornerstone 2009.

 

What do the homeless say to us? What do the homeless want us to know? Why should we listen to them? Stories from the front lines. . .

Jason Peters: Faith & Works of Wendell Berry, Session Three

This is the third part of Jason Peter’s seminar track from Cornerstone 2009.

 

One of America’s greatest social critics, essayists and poets, Wendell Berry is a man-of-letters, farmer, and modern-day prophet. More than ever, Berry offers a faithful witness against a standard of living neither practically sustainable nor morally defensible. This seminar explores the vision of simplicity that unifies Berry’s multi-faceted life and works, and the faith that drives it.

Keith Wasserman: Homelessness: The View From the Other Side, Session Two

This is the second part of Keith Wasserman’s seminar track from Cornerstone 2009.

 

Creatively engaging the culture of poverty with the Gospel for three decades, Keith Wasserman has regularly gone homeless by choice in various US cities to “see from the other side”. In this seminar, Keith will share what he’s learned from the poor and from ministry with the poor both from his experiences on the streets and from the trenches of developing an intentional Christian community that lives out the call of Jesus to love our neighbors in poverty.

Jason Peters: Faith & Works of Wendell Berry, Session Two

This is the second part of Jason Peter’s seminar track from Cornerstone 2009.

 

One of America’s greatest social critics, essayists and poets, Wendell Berry is a man-of-letters, farmer, and modern-day prophet. More than ever, Berry offers a faithful witness against a standard of living neither practically sustainable nor morally defensible. This seminar explores the vision of simplicity that unifies Berry’s multi-faceted life and works, and the faith that drives it.

Keith Wasserman: Homelessness: The View From the Other Side, Session One

This is the first part of Keith Wasserman’s seminar track from Cornerstone 2009.

 

Creatively engaging the culture of poverty with the Gospel for three decades, Keith Wasserman has regularly gone homeless by choice in various US cities to “see from the other side”. In this seminar, Keith will share what he’s learned from the poor and from ministry with the poor both from his experiences on the streets and from the trenches of developing an intentional Christian community that lives out the call of Jesus to love our neighbors in poverty.

Jason Peters: Faith & Works of Wendell Berry, Session One

This is the first part of Jason Peter’s seminar track from Cornerstone 2009.

 

One of America’s greatest social critics, essayists and poets, Wendell Berry is a man-of-letters, farmer, and modern-day prophet. More than ever, Berry offers a faithful witness against a standard of living neither practically sustainable nor morally defensible. This seminar explores the vision of simplicity that unifies Berry’s multi-faceted life and works, and the faith that drives it.

Soong-Chan Rah: A Theology of Suffering & Celebration, Session Two

This is the second part of Soong-Chan Rah’s seminar track from Cornerstone 2009.

 

The theology of history’s “haves” is inevitably shaped by interests vested in affirming and maintaining privilege – meanwhile creating ever more distance from history’s “have-nots.” This seminar wrestles with our notions of power and privilege as related to our notion of Christ, seeking to listen to the Gospel as it meets us at the intersection of celebration and suffering.