My Boxes Are Collapsing
Every fourth of July weekend for the past three years, Brandi and I have been in a tiny town in Illinois, at a festival called Audiofeed.
I don't know how you box this fest into a category. We're always trying to do it, but I end up feeling like it's just people being people. Weird people that we all are. Metal people and indie people and gothic people and worship people and speaker people and poet people and category people and don't you dare box me into a category people and
Maybe it's a Christian festival, kind of like maybe there is such a thing as Christian music or Christian tractors. If it's that, though, maybe it's "on the fringes" or maybe it's counter cultural or maybe it's "something other than our parent's CCM" or maybe it's rebellious or maybe it's subversive or maybe it's niche or maybe it's
I like that idea the most. Whatever it is, though, it's familial in a way that summer festivals have felt to me since I started going to Cornerstone back in '07.
I've been thinking about music as a miracle. At this year's festival, Friday was Humble Beast day and a bunch of hip-hop artists came in and did their thing, but fifty feet away, White Collar Sideshow wowed the audience with their industrial horror production, and an Anchor worship set began a tent over at around the same time. I got to watch one of my favorite rappers - JGivens - play a floor set for sixty hardcore kids that loved every minute of it, then the Bad Christian guys came in and did their thing. Sean Michel played his solo set before Bradley and Seth came to join him for the end. Preston Sprinkle spoke for morning seminars. Phinehas rolled in for a secret show. Tigerwine played an entire Linkin Park cover set. Julien Baker's band Forrister closed the night out at the Radon Lounge on Friday and I swear whatever she touches is gold. Listener played a set that I loved right before Emery came in on The Question front to back.
If you actually followed those links, you'd see how diverse all of that stuff is.
I don't know. I just feel like it's a beautiful collision of culture, and when I sit and watch it all happen, I know that we are all not neatly aligned boxes on shelves with subcategorized labels beneath the (also clearly defined) attributes of our fully-understandable creator who does one thing one way all the time.
The older I get, the more I love our differences. I’m just still trying to learn not to be afraid of them. My friend Caleb Davis reminded me recently we are all not hands in this body. Some people are feet and some people are heads and some people are bellies and some people are the penis. Yes, the penis. Bodies have those. Well, not all bodies have those, but some bodies do.
The point is: I appreciate the perspective. My friend Jacob Vigil always drives out to Audiofeed from Albuquerque, and we spent one of the nights talking about how very different it can feel to be a traveler. To sing praises with Take Hold friends in a basement in Grand Rapids, Michigan. To comment and question during a dialogical church service in Tampa, FL. To learn from the monological exegesis back home. To see Grave Robber shoot fake blood at their audiences from squirt guns while they burn politician mannequins on stage and talk about idols while other people decide that all of us need to stop participating in these “unholy fires.” That’s the way a guy described it to me that weekend. He said he was let go from his church for participating in unholy fires like whatever this music world is (while we decide that their world is the same...).
I’ve mastered the art of tearing apart at the things I’ve not experienced. I'm so good at deconstruction. I’ve got to watch myself or else I’ll keep pummeling at what I don’t know in order to elevate what I do. Travel doesn’t necessarily equal experience, but it can. And it can equal observation, and hopefully observation can produce patience, and silence in the waiting as I discover:
I don't know it all.
It is easier knowing it all, but I’m just not there anymore.
Life was more clearly defined when it fit into the filing cabinet, but these collisions are like hands reaching in to throw all those papers into the air so they rain down like the wonder it is to be alive and breathing, as if that were merely a categorical bore.
I want to learn. I’ve got anchors and I’ve got non-negotiables, but I don’t want to be afraid of you, and I don’t want you to be afraid of me. Whether that applies to methodology or theology or ethnicity or politics or genre or culture or whatever all those words that we separate as though they all just fit into compartment and not the whole complexities that each of us are. I assume that I will stand before God and be wrong about a whole lot of things, and I don’t think that negates the pursuit of what is right, but I’m starting to feel like there’s a whole lot more freedom in the Wonder that he is than I’ve ever had much of a framework for. And a whole lot more responsibility to neighbors than simply speaking at them from my corner allows for, as well.
So those have been my thoughts during the last few months. Maybe they're not full, or conclusive, but maybe they're a start, and maybe love can cast out fear like I've proclaimed it has for so long, but not experienced for much of that time.
I appreciate you who have helped me into this place along the way.