For thousands upon thousands of people, four days at the end of each August are reserved for a musical extravaganza called simply Greenbelt. This festival in rural England has become one of what Malcolm Muggeridge describes as "the thin places." Such places are where the wall between the human and the divine, Heaven and Earth, becomes a translucent veil. The devotion of the attendees makes sense in light of the depth of their experiences of God and creation, especially in this, Greenbelts silver jubilee.
Its Christian, artistic, and social justice natures aside, Greenbelts cultural locus may require some transatlantic explanation. The two main secular pillars upon which the festival stands are bank holidays and rock festivals. A bank holiday is a Monday where all financial institutions (and by default all businesses) are closed. Of these, the August Bank Holiday weekend is the most firmly established. The nearest North American equivalent would be Labor Day weekend. Also now long established are the rock festivals such as Glastonbury, Reading, the Fleadh, and so forth. Imagine Lollapalooza lasting several days, or Woodstock being an annual event, and youll start to get the picture.
Into this cultural context, insert a Christian arts festival, which started as a rock festival and takes place mostly under canvas, and things should be getting even clearer. This is an event unlike any youve had contact with before...unless youve been to Greenbelt.
estival manager Andy Thornton says this about its appeal: "Because Greenbelt is an arts festival, rather than a conference, it keeps you in touch with different facets of being human, different facets of yourself. It doesnt become a head-y weekend but a sort of whole person weekend, with a whole person theology."