Favorite Moments from the Goose: Snapshots from the Wild Goose Festival 2012

This Denver girl is a brand new fan of the South. Specifically the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area in North Carolina, home to the second annual Wild Goose Festival 2012, a raucous, grace-filled celebration of music, justice, spirituality and art.

Last week, I joined hundreds of other progressive Christians of all stripes, sizes and colors for five spirited — and very hot — days of camping at the beautifully funky Shakori Hills festival grounds, and taking in talks, music, poetry, movies and plays by leading authors, scholars, theologians, musicians, poets and your everyday ordinary radicals. Topics were diverse, and ranged from immigration reform, Christian universalism, and embracing your political “other,” to the theology of beer and rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians debate.

In between hourly standing-room-only talks in the popular shaded tents, I was gifted with one lovely conversation after another …with old friends and new; people who think like me and people who don’t; people who look like me, and people who definitely don’t (see photo, right, of a new friend playing a “can-jo”).

And while every moment was pretty darn wonderful (except for those few I spent engaged in tick triage on my leg), here are some of my personal favorites from the Goose:

  • Provocative author and former evangelical leader Frank Schaeffer, face-painted and joyfully waving a colorful streamer while singing “When The Saints Come Marching In,” inviting me to join him in the final parade to the closing worship on Sunday morning…
  • The indefatigable Jim Wallis of Sojourners Magazine smiling and leaning in close to tell me about this past week’s success in galvanizing Evangelical leaders (from Focus on the Family, most notably) and therefore Republican politicians in DC, around immigration reform … “it’s about meeting on higher ground, not moral ground…”
  • Eating barbequed salmon and asparagus with popular author Jana Riess and talking kids, camping, blogging, and what it’s like to finally get to the New Testament in her Twible project (in which she is tweeting the Bible, one verse at a time until she is done)…
  • The blessed rain on a hot southern afternoon…
  • Basking in the palpable joy of an elated Eric Elnes of Darkwood Brew at the Coffee Barn on Saturday around his realization of a new, long-time-a’comin “convergence Christianity” being manifested at the Festival (read his excellent post on this here) …
  • Watching my friend and fellow Coloradan Roger Wolsey rock his talk on progressive Christianity at a standing room only tent, and fielding a bunch of thoughtful questions in the Q&A session afterwards…
  • The five glorious, clean minutes after each shower I took …
  • Enjoying a cold, frothy Full Steam Beasley Honey White beer during an earthy conversation about the sacredness of making and drinking beer by locals Jimmy Chalmers and brewpub owner Sean Lilly Wilson…
  • The belle of the ball, Phyllis Tickle, bringing the Old Testament to relevant life in her talk “Bible Stories Your Grandmother Never Told You”…
  • Interviewing the courageous, honest and inspiring Logan Mehl-Laituri about his new book, Reborn on the Fourth of July: The Challenge of Faith, Patriotism & Conscience – his poignant story of becoming a conscientious objector after serving five years in Iraq…
  • Festival Director Gareth Higgins’ soulful rendition of my all-time favorite Prince song Purple Rain at the Performance Café at 1 am Saturday night…
  • Hugging Brian McLaren. Nuff said.

And many, many more … all of which inspired, delighted and offered me incredible hope and joy for the future of Progressive/Convergence Christianity.  There really is a movement afoot, my friends, and it’s loving, peace-seeking, reconciling, biblical, inviting, unafraid, and inspired by a fired-up Holy Spirit.

Thanks be to God for relationship, community, music, art, poetry, beer, nature, friends and strangers, camping…and yes, even ticks and chiggers, for they remind us that getting bit and being uncomfortable is part of what it means to be fully alive and engaged with others in the world.

(And here are some of my favorite posts thus far from around the web about the festival — to be updated, as more come in…)


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  • I would love to hear more about all of this, but am particularly interested in more about “the sacredness of making and drinking beer.” I share your joy at seeing the Kingdom manifest all around us!

  • Deborah, Great job in helping convey the spirit of the Goose! I’m with John, we’d love to hear more about your experience of “the theology of beer” presentation! : )
    Here’s my reflections on this year’s festival: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithforward/2012/06/wild-goose-2012-jesus-bayard-rustin-walter-wink-live/

  • I’m a Southern girl, but can you believe I’ve never heard of a wild goose festival?! It sounds like it was a total blast and that there was lots of fun to be had. Don’t know if I would have been able to stand the heat, though—where I am, it’s miserable! Looking forward to seeing more of your pictures.