Audio Feed – initial report

Posted: July 3, 2017 in Uncategorized

When I loaded up my car and got in to leave the very last Cornerstone festival, I cried.  First it was a few little dignified tears but quickly I was sobbing.  How could it be over?  I relived years and years of the festival – shows, friends made, seminars, roundtables, people-watching.  This thing changed my life.  It changed who I became.  It changed my mindset.  It freed me from the need to assimilate.  It pointed me down a path that I’d never have imagined.  My people were here – meeting with them annually was my recharge time that got me through the rest of the year.  How could it be over?

Quickly others who felt the terrible yawning chasm left in Cornerstone’s demise decided to do something about it; the first Audio Feed festival followed the next summer.  I was still grieving and didn’t want to even talk about Audio Feed, much less attend it.  After all, there are endless Christian music festivals out there.  If I just wanted “another fest,” I already had choices.  I didn’t want just another fest.  I didn’t want to show up to find a bunch of music I could hear every day on my radio.  I didn’t want to wander through all the things that gross me out about superiority-complex ridden Christian mainstream culture.  I had no interest in more of the same bland stuff I can find every day, everywhere.  My daughter had tried out Ichthus festival while her husband was in seminary; she had called me, indignant.  “Khaki pants and polo shirts everywhere!  It’s so mainstream!”  Cornerstone, with its rich diversity of all things alternative, had wrecked her for vanilla world just as it had me.  I didn’t need an experience like hers to taint my Cornerstone memories.  No thanks.

By the next year, I was hearing that my Cornerstone people were gathering again at Audio Feed.  I was interested, though still worried it might not live up to all that I had loved about Cornerstone (my main concern by this point:  what if it was only music and no seminars?)  It didn’t matter, it turned out.  G and I started volunteering that year serving abused and neglected foster kids at Royal Family Kids Camp, which fell during Audio Feed.  Oh well.  Maybe that was saving me from disappointment.

More years, more reports – it seemed like Audio Feed might be good, after all (and no, never at any point was I interested in learning about the other fests.)  We couldn’t choose vacation over foster kids, though, so no point in meditating on that.  I limited how much I read about Audio Feed each summer, so I wouldn’t be sad that I couldn’t at least try it out.

Then last year at camp, an announcement:  camp would be moved to a different slot at the end of July.  We were in the “snack shack,” a kind of staff break room, when the announcement came out – several of us faithful Cornerstone attenders broke into cheers instantly.  We get to go to Audio Feed!  

We got back last night from our first Audio Feed experience, having left before it was over due to the misfortune of not expecting the festival would run through this morning and thus not asking for the correct number of days off work for G, who needed to show up at 6:30 this morning for his role in feeding the seniors.  This meant we missed the Flatfoot 56 show and also a second Leper show, which is a true bummer, but we will bravely press on somehow.

People:  CORNERSTONE IS NOT DEAD.  Audio Feed is a new iteration.  It is smaller, and it is different in some ways, but the spirit is very much there.  My people (read: those who are over the value of artistic and ideological conformity) are there.  Being there was coming home again.  Next year we will read the schedule carefully before filling out our PTO sheets at work so that we don’t have to miss even a moment of it.

My mind is full of images and phrases and my notebook is full of details from the last four days of fun, and maybe I’ll write more about it after today (let’s be realistic:  I’ll write more than most of you want to read about it!) but no set of words can capture the collage.  Of course I couldn’t do/see everything that I wanted, because so much happens simultaneously – that’s part of the sweet agony of it all:  who will I choose to see this hour?

The big theme I heard across my many experiences there was a call for all of us from church world:  stop focusing on our differences and disagreements – we can’t afford to waste time and energy on that.  Ours is a rescue mission – abandon the culture wars and get back on mission.  A rescue mission is about others; culture wars are self-focused.  

Here’s how I know it is possible for us to follow that important directive:  my own Audio Feed experience.  I’m a seminar junkie; I sit in more classes/discussions than music shows because I like it that way.  The teachers I listened to were not all perfectly lined up with my ideologies and philosophies.  People said stuff that made me nod my head affirmatively and mutter amen, but also people said stuff that made me uncomfortable.  Stuff that I didn’t like.  Stuff with which I firmly do not agree.  Some teachers were so inspirational I was ready to leap out of my chair and charge into battle beside them; some were so boring that I stepped out to get coffee to keep me awake (all the nights were late and all the mornings, early) before returning to hear the rest.  Some of it was meaty stuff I’ll be chewing on for months to come.  Speakers ranged from way more fundamentalist than I am to way more liberal than me.  Some sharing did silly little things that pushed my buttons, making it hard for me to pay attention (the funniest:  the lady who took a giant bite of an apple in the midst of making an introduction, and then spoke carefully into the mic while chewing, practically sending me into convulsions), while others were riveting.  Mostly, no politics could be smelled around there, but occasionally I caught enough to know that the person speaking likely voted in a way that makes my hair stand on end. In the end:  I got something of value from every single one of these people (and I’m not foolish enough to suppose that “I hold the correct view” everywhere that I disagreed).  I am refreshed and revived and inspired because of what they willingly brought to the table.

Being called to follow Christ does not come with a manual that brings us all into conformity, item by item, so that we are the same.  But we do have the same Holy Spirit, and if we’re listening, we can play well together and actually get good things done and not act like asses.  IT CAN BE DONE.  I experienced it over and over there, just as I do in my everyday life, interacting with coworkers, friends and family who are all over the spectrum of ideas and worldviews that never perfectly match mine.

I’m grateful for the reminder in this theme.  It’s easy to lose that thread in today’s culture here in the USA, Christian or otherwise.  If I can pick it up and spread it around generously, I’ll have done what I should – no doubt about that.

A big THANK YOU to all who make Audio Feed happen.  What you are doing is important, and I know it is more work than most of us begin to imagine.  I promise to do a better job this year of holding you up in prayer as you pull it together again.  SEE YOU NEXT YEAR!

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