This will be a quick one.
I noticed that they handled visual art much differently at Cornerstone than in 2004. As I recall back then it was just some gallery in a tent somewhere. I didn’t go there, despite what I’d imagine is a strong interest in vis. art relative to the population of Cornerstone attendees, and despite the fact that I thought it was really cool that they had visual art. So i can imagine that whatever it was, it was probably underutilized by the attendees.
In 2009 the visual art was set up as a public art display, not unlike art one might see in a subway station or similar in an urban context. It was set up in the approach to “the bridge,” so i passed through there a fair bit going from the Asylum to the Midway area. Apparently the theme was the parables of Jesus. It wasn’t clear to me whether all the artists were JPUSAns or not. Unfortunately i didn’t catch either of the guided tours at 10 am Thursday and Friday — they conflicted with seminars I wanted to catch. But at least I got to look at the art for a couple of minutes on my way down the walkway.
In general I think this sort of public art display is a very positive development, and I wonder how many years they’ve been doing this. (Perhaps I’m just not remembering something like this in 2004, but I don’t think so — a couple of people agreed that visual art didn’t use to be displayed this way at C’stone.) My only suggestion for perhaps broadening the visual art offerings would be to have another public space for works not directly related to the theme. For example, the woman at JPUSA named Doria (?) who’s done some really great paintings featured on the Asylum shirts probably wouldn’t get her work in something like this, unless she happened to do work on the theme of the year. I really like her work and would like to see it get attention outside the Asylum, so I’d like to see some display of non-thematic works.
That’s sort of a quibble, though, that shouldn’t detract from the bigger point: JPUSA has done a good job of getting visual art out there where the Cornerstone masses can see and interact with it.
I think this will really work better if i try to write several short posts than if i try to cram everything into one big post.
One of the pleasant surprises for me was discovering the public journals at the Alliance World Coffee tent. There must have been about seven or eight of them, and the entries ranged from frivolous or lighthearted to artistically impressive to very poignant. One author addresses a letter to his mom. We never find out why she left and didn’t come back. Another talks about the alienation of being gay and closeted at the festival. Skeptics write sharp criticisms (sharp warranted criticisms, IMO) about the feeling of commercialism that pervades the fest. I include a sentence about my own occasional feelings of loneliness there (fortunately, for only a small fraction of the whole time), and find that others have shared similar emotions. Other contributors draw a ship, a 70’s-looking Jesus poster, or whatever.
I think my time at the fest would be well spent just going through the public journals and praying over the people who wrote in them. I certainly plan to be praying for some of these people in the coming weeks.
Bushnell, IL – I’m taking advantage of the wifi provided by First Baptist Church of Bushnell to check in for a few moments. I’ll have lots of reflections and processing that I’ll try to document here as appropriate. For now I just want to share this thought.
On the drive here I was wondering why on earth I needed to go to C’stone. There are probably several reasons, but the real reason I’m here is to learn how very little I matter. I sincerely mean that. So much of my past motivation for some sort of underground ministry thing has been to provide an object for my personal quest for meaning, to find “my thing.” And more and more I’m being reminded that my presence just doesn’t matter. What I mean is, some of the same growth in certain directions that needed to happen five years ago, before I started wandering in the wilderness so to speak, has actually happened. While I was sitting on the sidelines, it happened! And that’s a very good thing.
If God wants my role in all this to be sitting on the sidelines clapping and encouraging, then I really need to be content and to take on that role with all my heart. Only as I accept my own smallness can I effectively tell the story of God’s greatness.
I feel remiss because I never bothered to mention hanging out in Iowa with some people from The Asylum over the weekend April 17-19. It was enjoyable to see some old friends and acquaintances and make some new ones.
I have no idea if I’ll make it to Cornerstone, which is the de facto annual minimal requirement for staying connected to this network of people. Part of me feels like it’s a waste if I don’t get my self-image on sound footing. I’ll certainly consider going.