Saturday, June 07, 2008

2008 Cornerstone Festival Coming Soon

This year's Cornerstone Festival is just a few short weeks away. Unfortunately, I won't be attending this year as I take some time off of the speaker rotation, but I want to draw my readers attention to this event in Bushnell, Illinois that runs June 30th to July 5.

In addition to the music through great rock bands, and the art, the festival includes explorations of film, the imagination, and seminars. Some of this year's presentations that I am particularly attracted to and wish I could sit in on include the following:


WITCH-HUNTING & CULT-BUSTING(Gordon Melton, 3 sessions)The late-20th century religious explosion launched hundreds of organizations responding to the "cults." Such approaches were often long on confrontation, short on dialogue and respect: they often took the familiar shape of clashes with the Evil Other. This seminar surveys this landscape and considers unexamined assumptions and underpinnings of a faulty (and often unChristian) methodology and imagines a truly Christian approach for approaching the religious Other.

CONSPIRACY! RUMOR PANICS AND MYTHS OF "THE EVIL OTHER"(Bill Ellis, 3 sessions)Societies are easily thrown into tizzies by claims that shadowy conspirators are plotting to attack Our Way of Life. Christians have been a target of such persecutions. But Christian culture has also perpetuated its own rumor panics, including Medieval Witch Hunts and, more recently, the contagious hysteria of Satanic Cults. This seminar explores what makes these stories compelling and difficult to debunk, and as damaging to both "true believers" and their targets.


LEGENDS, FOLKLORE, SUPERSTITIONS, FAITH(Bill Ellis, 3 sessions)Terms like "myth" and "folklore" are used by some to dismiss stories taken seriously by others. To a professional folklorist, such terms identify stories always taken seriously, because they embody elements of life human beings consider worth preserving. This seminar explores folklore studies and its relevance for all of us. Learn what roles urban myths, beliefs, rituals, games, folktales, legends, proverbs and riddles play in our lives, including religious and political spheres.

DRACULA, MYTH & FACT(J. Gordon Melton, 3 sessions)Dracula has long been a cultural icon in the West, with an enduring fandom and even would-be imitators. Meanwhile, Dracula is a symbol of a different sort for the Romanians, a genuine national hero - and a myth with its own complexities. This seminar explores the history of and behind the Dracula legend, along with the process and moral ambiguities of myth-making.

THE GOD WHO LOVES MONSTERS: TOWARD A BIBLICAL THEOLOGY OF MONSTERS(Daniel Otto Jack Peterson, 1 session)What are we to make of Behemoths and lycanthropes and Leviathans thrashing within the pages of Holy Writ? Or the chilling cherubic beings and nightmare nation-beast-amalgamations haunting the prophetic imagination? What are these and other inspired horrors, by turns hellish and holy, trying to tell us about God and God's world and even what it means to be human?

I know I'll be there for future years, but this year's offerings really make me salivate. Perhaps someone in my network can attend and pick up handouts for me, or record these sessions. Go for me, or go for yourself, but go!

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