[I continue here from yesterday with the second "letter" I wrote home detailing my experiences of my first Cornerstone Music Festival. I learned something there, some things that I was to explore more fully in the coming years.]
If my first letter seemed to leave off on a disillusioned note about Cornerstone, you're right. Attribute it to a bit of culture shock. But I've discovered that the problem is not these unusual Christian folk. It's me.
You see, when I came to Cornerstone I thought I basically knew the parameters for what Christians could look like, what kind of music they listen to, what they could paint, how they should worship, and even what kind of fun they could have. I even congratulated myself for being broad minded about it. What I discovered is that I harbor my own prejudices, that I judge others by their outward appearance, and that I don't offer them sufficient time or extend enough grace toward them to allow them to show me what they're like on the inside before I make a hasty judgment.
Here I've discovered that there are people who, while they don't look like those in our church or neighborhood, love Jesus and are committed to the defense of the Gospel. These are theological conservatives encased in the bodies of hippies, rapper, motorcycle enthusiasts, skateboarders, head-bangers (heavy metal listeners) and punk rockers. And I can't criticize them for the way they look or the fact that they all seem to have the same basic look. Have you looked around our church lately? In outward appearance we are a microcosm of our yuppie community. They look like the people they hang with. Don't we? You simply can't judge people by their appearance.
And what have I learned? To begin with, here there are Christians who are committed to art, who are writing and teaching, publishing newsletters, and having Bible studies about art and the Bible. They're keeping alive such little-read and often out-of-print classics on art such as Art and the Bible, by Francis Schaeffer, and Modern Art and the Death of Culture, by Hans Rookmaker. Believe it or not, I read extensive quotes from these classic works in a Christian punk-rock newsletter called Thieves and Prostitutes (taken from Matthew 21:31 and not a candidate for our church newsletter's name). These books are barely read at all in evangelical circles today and can't be found in many Christian bookstores whose shelves sag under the weight of self-help, recovery literature, and poorly written fiction. And trinkets. Trash. It appears that for some of my inspiration to continue thinking about art I'll have to continue my new relationship with the C-Stone folks. You see, I've grown to love and appreciate these budding artists, these brothers and sisters in Christ.
Leave the light on. I'll be home soon. . . with some of my new friends in tow (at least in memory anyway). I'm glad that they've helped me learn to practice what I've always given intellectual assent to: that God is no respecter of the outward appearance of persons or of any particular style of music or art. He wants us to go on -- to know the person, to know the artist, to know the art for what it is, and to know the Artist Himself behind all this great diversity.