R.I.P. Cornerstone Festival

“Can I help you?”  This was the question I had for the bloke who jumped into my tent for no apparent reason.  The guy had been drinking something a bit stronger than Snapple.  I was in the middle of zoning out to Iona, a UK band who reminded me of The Cocteau Twins, when my new acquaintance jumped into the tent.  This happened at Cornerstone Festival.  A music festival started over 25 years ago which drew crowds of the tens of thousands.

My tent, and the tent of my friend, was one of thousands of tents spread throughout farmland in Bushnell, Illinois where the festival was held.    Other than a visit from “Stronger than Snapple” Cornerstone Festival was always the highlight of my summers when I was in college.  The discovery of Cornerstone Festival came at the perfect time in my life.  Up until then I grew up with a pretty bubble-wrapped view of the world.  I questioned my faith only because it had yet to be my own.  Many closest to me were scared of any music not deemed acceptable by the church.  I was confused.  All I knew was that a lot of the music of the church didn’t stir me and it was getting worse as I grew older.  The new church music, “praise music”, was growing in popularity and it moved me even less.  Was I not a Christian?  I didn’t like the church music.  I didn’t like the “praise music” (and it still doesn’t stir me.  Nothing personal.  Great stuff for many.)

Cornerstone had what one would call Christian artists who some would question their Christianity.  They sang about hopes, fears, loss, struggles, sex, drugs, etc.  This music moved me.

Even now our record collection lacks traditional Christian music, but the music we do own stirs us.  That is what is required to bring music into our home.

“If it doesn’t stir, it doesn’t stay.”

Cornerstone introduced me to a lot of the music that is in our collection.  I am greatly indebted to Cornerstone Festival for opening my eyes not to “edgy Christian bands” or anything so elementary or trivial, but to the fact that “Christian music” takes on many different forms and it’s okay not to be scared of it.

My only regret is not being able to take my lady, and my little lady, to a Cornerstone Festival.   May just have to go to Coachella.

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