I got up Thursday morning heading for the festival grounds. I hadn’t spent much time in open fields. I was blown away by the fact that you could see miles away in any different direction. But nestled in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere were thousands of folks converging upon this festival. It was a bit of a sensory overload. But it was good. I felt stretched. I thought alot about space and how it is configured in different ways in our society. In one of my sessions I talked about how cultural spaces are race-ed…that we have very few spaces in our society that I would consider racially ‘neutral’. This is not necessarily a bad thing. This is the reality we find ourselves in here in the United States. Cornerstone uses the aesthetic of the festival as a rallying community metaphor. A good one I believe. The festival aesthetic finds it origins in Medieval Europe or possibly before. But that’s what I think about when I’m invited to a festival. Anyways…back to what I was saying. Someone asked me about the lack of black presence at the festival. Well, its obvious, why I retorted. The rallying metaphor for the festival is a very white image to gather community. My suggestion was to invite Tom Joyner to call for a family reunion. Family reunion is a major rallying metaphor in the black community. But I don’t know if black folks would be inclined to camp out for a couple of days in the middle of nowhere. But it doesn’t even matter to me. I like Cornerstone the way it is. I’d probably be little help with offering logistical advice about how to pull in different cultural and ethnic expressions. Especially if we fail to sing the blues together…to dig deeply into the history and practices, as Christians, that have aided in the perpetuation of white supremacy, racial segregation, and theological imperialism.
And that’s what my sessions were about: God’s callin’ a bluespeople. My developing of what this means to be a people called by God to embody a tragic-comic-hopeful posture in creation:
(Some of this is from the session I gave: I was using philosopher Cornel West as a point of departure from his latest book Democracy Matters. This thought precedes from his section on the tragic-comic hopeful tradition that exists in American Democracy)The tragic comic view of the world sees the tragedy in our world yet refuses to be overwhelmed and crushed by it. It is a resistance to cynicism, nihilism and overwhelming despair. It is to have a smile from the Holy Spirit while I’m swinging at the devil. It is to understand that the world may appear to be ran by what the bible calls the “principality and powers” or “spiritual forces of wickedness in high places.” That our lives and society are profoundly broken yet we sit in heavenly places with Christ Jesus. That we still have modern day Roman Imperialist making arrogant claims on reality while we remember that we have a Savior that has broken through and destroyed the power of sin and death. To sing the blues is to say this:
We are in the last moments of the deep night awaiting the coming of the Son.