October 22, 2020

CStone 09: A Few Thoughts Now and A Lot More Later

idit1UPDATE: A few photos are at my Facebook page. I still can’t upload photos here for some reason.

Denise and I just returned home from Cornerstone 09. We have a lot to do, but I will get right back to blogging and podcasting later tonight and tomorrow.

My apologies to the Pirate Christian radio audience. You’ll get a re-run of a previous Internet Monk Radio tomorrow (Monday). No time to podcast this past week at all.

Also, my apologies to a few people whose comments wound up in the “moderation” queue, and I did not check this page while I was gone. All your comments are fine, but it took me a few days to get to them. No offense please.

My apologies as well to a bunch of people who send me questions to be answered. I can get to so few of them anyway, and I may not get to them at all. This isn’t disrespectful to you, I assure you, but is a realistic reflection of my life, which includes job and family demands that have to come before writing lengthy responses to reader requests. In this case, travel just made it impossible. Again, please don’t take offense.

Finally, my apologies to those of you who discovered that my michaelATinternetmonk.com mail account was full. You can always use imonk57@gmail.com.

Now, a bit about Cornerstone 09.

It was incredibly gracious of Mike Hertenstein to invite me back to Cornerstone for a second year. In these tumultuous two years of my life, no one in the world has been a greater encourager to me than Mike Hertenstein. If I do anything of value as an author, a lot of the credit will go to Mike for making me feel something I NEVER feel in my day to day world here in the ministry where I serve: worth as a writer. CStone has made me feel the value of my writing gifts and the value of my gifts in contributing something to the future of evangelicalism. Thank you, Mike. You are a true friend.

This year was particularly a great blessing as I made real connections with two men whose books affected me in the past few months: Andrew Marin and Soong Chun Rah. I look forward to the IM audience getting to know these men here on the site in the future. They have become valuable members of my encouragement team. God has used both of these men to remind me in fresh ways of my vision for this web site and its future contribution to evangelicalism.

It was also wonderful to meet Chris Heuertz, international director of Word Made Flesh. Here is an example of why all of us ought to be very encouraged with what is going on in the minds and hearts of evangelicals who aren’t buying the corporate-designed church in a box. Chris has taken a vision and is seeing it through. The lives of thousands of the poor are being changed. You’ll hear more from Chris here at IM as well.

It was a genuine honor to meet and talk with Tony Jones, a person whose name I’ve read hundreds of times and who has been analyzed, caricatured and po-motivated as the center of the “Emerging Church” controversy. Tony is a man who lays out his faith plainly and with passion, skill and persuasive authenticity. Whatever you may think of the recent developments in the world of “emerging” evangelicals, you will never convince me that Tony’s critics appreciate his sincere energy and evident vocation to make a future evangelicalism a place where thousands of young people with questions and wavering faith can once again find a home. He is a person who loves spiritual formation and believes we all should be shaped by the scriptures. I appreciated this and more. Tony and I will always have substantive disagreements over some of the issues and some of the ways we arrive at our positions, but his seminar on “It’s all about Jesus” is typical of what I learned about what is at the center of his heart as a writer and communicator.

My wife’s first Cornerstone was a wonderful experience to share. CStone is a place where a new Catholic like Denise can find a lot of friends and a welcome respite from the usual anti-Catholicism that dominates our corner of the world. We haven’t shared a trip like this in years, and it was a good time for us.

I was happy to meet and have breakfast with BHT fellow Mike Shea, a pastor with a real drive to see his church experience a missional renewal of its purpose and direction. I also appreciated all the CStone volunteers who were amazingly gracious and helpful every day.

Throughout the three days I was at Cornerstone, I was constantly reminded of how the emerging generation both needs the Gospel and is powerfully motivated to take Jesus into the world, especially to the poor. It is always a challenging experience. I see and hear the need for solid Gospel teaching everywhere, but I see a kind of passion for application that humbles and shames me. Evangelicalism’s future may not be perfect, but it won’t be without thousands who are determined to live out a deeper, more daring version of a Jesus shaped faith than the one they inherited.

I’ll have more to say later, particularly about the “Gay Rights and Wrongs” panel I moderated on Friday afternoon.


  1. “He [Tony] is a person who loves spiritual formation and believes we all should be shaped by the scriptures. I appreciated this and more. Tony and I will always have substantive disagreements over some of the issues and some of the ways we arrive at our positions, but his seminar on “It’s all about Jesus” is typical of what I learned about what is at the center of his heart as a writer and communicator.”

    That’s a very gracious way of putting it, Michael. Though Tony and I disagree often (and even you and I disagree occasionally) I’m learning more and more from these kinds of gentle, respectful examples in how to interact with others I may disagree with.


  2. My disagreements with Tony are substantial. My respect and appreciation for him as a person who is truly devoted to Jesus and seeks to follow him consistently and publicly is genuine.

  3. I am so glad you had a wonderful time at Cstone. Esp. you and Denise. I look forward to hearing more.

  4. What a great job moderating the discussions. Thank you!
    ps I love Andrews T-shirt!

  5. You did a fabulous job moderating the “Gay Rights and Wrongs” panel Thanks!

  6. It was good to meet you (although briefly) this year at C-stone. I was only able to catch the end of the “Gay Rights and Wrongs” forum, but it looked like ya’ll had quite a crowd.
    This was my seventh C-stone, and it has definitely become my vacation of choice. As far as I know, there is no other Christian event on the planet that allows that kind of freedom when it comes to the discussion of Christian issues and the presentation of off-the-beaten-path ideas, music, and other artistic expressions. I thank God for it, and for the JPUSA community for putting it on every year.
    I wish you could have participated in Glenn Kaiser’s leadership forum. It’s a great forum for church leaders from all kinds of different backgrounds and church forms to get together and bounce ideas off each other — and to vent frustrations they can’t freely or safely share with their own church bodies. It’s kind of like a face-to-face version of this blogsite. He usually does it every year, so check it out in the future if you get a chance.

  7. Let me just second what you said about Mike Hertenstein. I met him a few years ago when he invited me to be a speaker at the Flickerings film program and was impressed by his knowledge, kindness, and enthusiasm. How he stays sane during the festival, with so much on his plate, I’ll never know.

    Sadly, I was unable to make it to Cornerstone this year, so I’m looking forward to any and all of the recollections and whatnot that I can get.

  8. IM,

    Great to finally meet you. I so appreciated the sincerity and energy with which you moderated the discussions. And it was great to talk books, web things, etc. in the speakers’ trailer.

    I’m sure we’ll cross paths again soon.

  9. Michael,

    I was wondering if you had a link to the panel you moderated on Friday. I would be interested in listening to the interaction.

    I spent some time with Andrew in Chicago and posted it over at TheOOZE.TV it is a two part series



    I really like what he is doing to open the conversation and invite everyone to the table. Let me know what you think of the interviews, if you have time…

    I also spent a day with Soong and will post that episode later this month. Another voice from beyond the normal conversation surrounding evangelicalism.

    Thanks for report on Cstone,

  10. Spencer:

    CStone told me they would post the audio. I’m waiting for that, and won’t be surprised if it takes a while.



  11. Y’know, when I was in high school a friend who lived in the Chicago area would tell me great things about CStone. I had always wanted to go but then forgot about it. Now that it’s back in my mind, I may have to make a trip there next year or the following year or something like that.

  12. I was the person who cheered when they mentioned your name as moderator for the Gay Rights and Wrongs Panel. It was a delight to see in person the man I hear every week on the podcast… your questions were concise and well stated and I enjoyed every minute of the panel.

    Your also allot better looking in person…

  13. mark from michigan says

    hey mike…i hope you become a regular part of Cstone…good to see and hear you again…wish my wife and denise could have met…maybe next year. did you see the Bill Mallonee concert?…did you know he’s Catholic? I liked the depth of his lyrics and the passion in his singing and playing.