Part 2 — To read part 1 go here.
I’ve already tried to describe a little of what going to the Wild Goose Festival is like in Part 1: What is the Wild Goose Festival and what is it like? Now I want to take just a couple more paragraphs to reflect on the messages of the Goose. I’m so impressed by the big names that come and speak at this festival every year. I can’t say enough about how inspiring and energizing the experience was but I’ll mention a few of my favorite things from this year’s (2019) festival, in no particular order.
The opening night
speaker was Otis Moss III. His talk was energizing but to be honest I
don’t remember much of what he said. I don’t think that is his
fault. He spoke on opening night and so much happened since then it
just got pushed out of my brain. I’ve heard him speak before and
I’ve always come way impressed.
I also love hearing
Barbara Brown Taylor speak. She was interviewed about her new book,
“Holy Envy.” I tried to buy a copy the next day in the festival
bookstore but it was already sold out. I’ll be buying a copy now
that I’m home. She wrote the book as a tribute to students she’s
taught as a world religions professor. She writes of their
experiences learning about other religions as well as how we can
learn from each others’ faiths. Again, I don’t really remember a
lot of the details but I was left with the feeling that this is a
book I definitely need to read.
William Barber, a
Disciples of Christ Minister and found of the Poor People’s
Campaign, is also always inspiring. He made a passionate call for a
“moral Pentecost” – right here and right now! It’s something
we should all be concerned about and consider getting involved with:
One of the musical
groups was the Nine Beats Collective, a world-wide ranging group who
gathered to do music inspired by the Beatitudes. Check them out:
In a smaller
workshop I attended one of the speakers talked about forgiveness not
only being about the “sinner” but also about the victim of the
“sin” and the pain of those sinned against. We can’t claim
innocence but need to deal with our complicity in others’ pain.
That seemed like a point worth hanging onto for further reflection.
Brian McLaren, and John Pavlovitz had a panel discussion on civil
discourse vs. prophetic voice. I found it engaging because this is a
tension I’ve felt as a minister. I would paraphrase the conundrum
like this: Do we work on building relationships with those we
disagree with, which might involve holding our tongue or moderating
what we say and how we say it? Or do we bluntly tell the truth as we
understand it and let the chips fall where they may, even if it may
break relationships instead of building them? Berghoef was new to me
and I’ve always admired McLaren’s work. I knew of Pavlovitz
before this talk but he’s always seemed too confrontational to me.
I came away impressed by him. I’m a fan now. One thing he talked
about is while he uses his prophetic voice in social media and comes
across as a jerk to many, he also tries to engage in dialog with
those he angers. So maybe there’s a line here where we can be
truth-tellers and still be relationship-builders. I hope so.
Another person who
was new to me was Stan Mitchell. While many of the messages I heard
over the weekend were energizing and inspiring, his really touched my
heart. The weird thing is, I’m not really sure why because what he
was saying was pretty much what I’ve tried to preach myself but
perhaps presented in a little different (better?) way. Or maybe it
just had to do with where I was spiritually and emotionally in the
moment. Anyway, what he was talking about was coming from a church
where he was taught of his supposed inherent evil and separation from
God as a fallen human being. He gave interpretations of the Garden of
Eden story and of the Parable of the Prodigal Son to make the point
that we are not inherently evil but we are inherently beautiful,
good, and beloved by God. Some points to ponder: it’s not sin that
separates us from God but shame. When Eve covered up her nakedness in
the Garden, it wasn’t because she was bad and she had to be covered
before God would come near her but she needed to cover up so *she*
would be comfortable in God’s presence. It wasn’t about sin, but
about shame. God doesn’t separate from us, but we separate from
God. Further, he didn’t like the word separation but preferred
estrangement from God because estrangement implies that in our
natural state we belong with God. Separation is space between two
(potentially unrelated) things. Estrangement is space between two
things that belong together. Mitchell didn’t state it, but I think
the estrangement terminology comes from the theologian Paul Tillich.
Also, talking about the Prodigal Son, Mitchell pointed out that the
father in the parable never goes looking for the son who squandered
his wealth. But he does go looking for the son that had stayed home
but doesn’t come to the feast. That is, the lost one in the parable
is really the elder son. There was more to it, but I think it is a
point worth reflection. I wish I had a video of this sermon. It
really made me think about shame and what shame I might carry with me
that estranges me from the Holy.
So, perhaps the big
question is that now I’m home, how do I carry this experience into
my every day life. With current events, the plight of children housed
in concentration camps by my own government is on my heart… one of
many important, emotionally deflating, and often inter-related issues
(for example, what’s happening to those children is directly
related to racism and the white nationalism espoused by our
president). Can I do something about it? How can I use my prophetic
voice and my circles of influence to create justice in the world?
My post festival
to-do list: 1) find my niche in justice seeking and 2) make time for
my spiritual practices that I might get in touch with my inner shame
and draw closer to the Holy. Will I do these things? Only God knows
for sure what the future holds, but here’s a prayer that the Wild
Goose (i.e. the Holy Spirit) will fly before me, leading me (and all
of us) into the Way of God’s kin-dom of love and justice.