The Mild Goose Festival?

Two day ago I enjoyed a coffeehouse chat with Gareth Higgins, founder and producer of the Wild Goose Festival. He asked to meet with me by way of extending to me an invitation to speak at Wild Goose 2012.

In the two weeks since our meeting, I have not heard from Gareth. I can’t say that I expected to (though do let me hasten to add that I found him a positively charming fellow).

I’m pretty sure Gareth found me, however, as … well, primarily as someone who wouldn’t, after all, be such a great fit with Wild Goose.

Which is true. I’d fit in at the Wild Goose Festival like Bernie Madoff would fit in at an Occupy Wall Street protest.

Anyone in the coffee shop eavesdropping on my conversation with Gareth might have heard me say to him these things:

There are three topics that really matter in Christianity right now: hell, universalism, and LGBT equality. You should make a big point, Gareth, of how Wild Goose will be about tackling those specific topics. People would love that. They want that substance. Distinguish Wild Goose from all the other similar Christian ‘gatherings’ out there by being clear, right up front, that you’re going to actually talk about the only real things Christians are talking about anyway. If people thought honest, real, concentrated, in-depth conversations about those three topics was going to happen there, you’d triple your ticket sales. People would flock to Wild Goose.

You know what’s happened, Gareth, is that hipster, Christian lefty leaders have adapted a language and model for engagement that perfectly protects them from ever having to actually say anything at all real about anything at all real. They keep it all about, as they so carefully put it, ‘exploring’, ‘questioning,’ ‘seeking,’ ‘dialoguing,’ ‘relating,’ ‘broadening boundaries,’ ‘opening spaces,’ ‘creating narratives,’ and on and on and  on, until you know you’re going to croak waiting for any of them to actually say anything. Because they’re all safely ensconced behind their new mantra: ‘Doubting is divine.’ But how is doubting divine? What could be more human than doubting? I read [new book by major hipster Christian pastor], and it made me doubt whether the author had ever in his whole freakin’ life had one clear thought. Making Doubting and Questioning the go-to position on difficult issues is a great way for Christian authors and speakers to avoid saying anything that might offend anyone, yes. But it also keeps them from saying anything that might actually interest anyone. How many times are people going to follow those guys on the same trip around the same merry-go-round? Make Wild Goose the place where people can come to participate in the stopping of that merry-go-round, Gareth: where they can finally take the mofo apart, and figure out why it just keeps spinning around and around and around.

The idea of theology working from the top down thing is extremely old-school. Theology no longer trickles down from seminaries, to churches, to pews. Now, thanks to the Internet, it swells up from the people. Theology now happens at the speed of the Internet. Shifts in theology that used to happen over decades now happen in a year. In months. It’s happening that fast. The Internet has made it so that the future of theology has already happened. If you want to lead anymore, you have to run. Four months ago, Wild Goose could claim the status of Leader. But if this year you guys don’t get bold about explicitly exploring the issues of hell, universalism, and LGBT rights—which Christians are already deeply discussing, which they already care about—then, by this time next year, Wild Goose will be looking like some mullet-wearing, middle-aged stoner droning on about how Journey and Styx still totally rock. You’re an ‘Outlaw Preacher’ guy, Gareith. So really be that guy. Do something at least a little dangerous. If you don’t, your wild goose will be cooked anyway.

Today, the quickest way to lose is to play it safe. The churches still resisting full LGBT equality, for instance, are like tortoises on the highway: they’re gonna get sideswiped, spin a while, helplessly flop their stunted limbs in the air, and then get flattened. You watch: in very short order, more and more churches and denominations are going to look up to the heavens, and there behold the brilliant rainbow Jesus has put there. And you know what they’re going to love about that rainbow? The pot of gold at the end of it! There’s money in inviting LGBT people into your church. Theology always follows sociology, Gareth, and sociology always bends toward equality and inclusiveness. Get Wild Goose out ahead of that curve. Catch that wave! Now’s the time! You can do it! You’ll be huge if you do!

And so on.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure I won’t be invited to Wild Goose: Gareth was definitely having none of what I was selling. (Though I did appreciate seeing, in such short order, on the WG web page, so much of the specific language that I had recommended Gareth use to market the New and Improved WG: clearly, soon after our meeting, Gareth had  gotten very busy typing. Within two days, eighty percent of what I’d said to him during our coffee chat appeared on the “About” page of the WB website. Eighty percent! So close!) But, on the off-off-off-off chance that an invitation to WG is forthcoming, I will be assiduously perfecting my killer imitation of Jim Wallis, which I’m sure would be a huge hit.

After Gareth left the coffee shop, I thought about how much I really do yearn to attend the sort of event I had encouraged him to produce: a gathering, the entire purpose of which is to get down in the mud, and really wrestle around with the issues that are currently tearing Christianity apart. A place where thoughtful, intelligent people come together not to argue, or bitch, or hurl Bibles at one another, but to talk. To start, wherever they’re at, and through the process of conversing, thinking, and praying with others, move to actual and real resolution on the issues of hell, Christian universalism, and full LGBT equality.

That’s a festival in which I’d like to participate in. That’s a group I’d love to hang out with. That’s a purpose and process I could get behind.

But where would I ever find such a group?

Nowhere, is where. It doesn’t exist. No one’s putting on festivals like that.

But if anyone ever did, I’d be totally down with it.

Get it? Down?

Goose down?


*sniff.* *sniff*


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  • RIGHT! now defining a new credential “Dr Of Online Divinity” (DOOD)

  • I so totally want that title.

  • As the founder I hereby bestow the title of DOOD to John Shore, Tryer of the Divine Patience. “Sans Religio Bovinus Excramentus”

  • mike moore

    John, never forget the lessons of Marxism (Groucho) … would you really be happy to join a club that would have you as a member?

    Mostly kidding, but not entirely.

    By the time there is a gathering which, to paraphrase your words, includes mud wrestling, I picture you a mile or two beyond it, skipping down the road, and then jumping into muddy puddles with both feet, splashing the new idiot/idiotic-theology that will inevitably rear his/it’s ugly head.

  • Oh my God. I think I wet myself a little.

  • Mike: That is so sweet–and so touchingly poetic, actually. Very nice. Thank you.

  • an appropriate reaction…your robes should conceal it (those Divinical robes hide a lot…)

  • The robes for this position should totally be bathrobes. I have TWO. I’m so ready for this.

  • Christelle

    Two things:

    Is it really called the Wild Goose Festival? Never mind, I clicked the link and low and behold… IT IS… cuz for a minute there I thought you were speaking in code…

    Second, you start a coffee shop monthly round table discussion in our neck of the woods and I’m there- and bringing friends… just sayin’… I can eve suggest places that I like to frequent in say- Hillcrest/North park… We could call ourselves HIS FLOCK OF GEESE… i’m getting carried away- but really… think about it


  • LSS

    i donno about the whole marketing-of-God thing.

    have you see the movie BIG KAHUNA? i think you and other readers would like it.

    the other parts were cool. probably ought to invest in a step-stool, though.

  • Ken

    If anybody can say anything at anytime and call it “Truth” – What in a hundred years will be left to form the basis of any religion? What will it mean to say, when two or more are gathered in His name, “We are of one faith.”? What is the power that preserves, that hold the center, that stops theology from becoming another word for… babble?

  • Skip Johnston

    I’m reading a little bio on Martin Luther. (What a fun guy!) He made a career out of going around pissing people off. Everybody. If it wasn’t the Pope, it was the Emperor. If It wasn’t the Emperor, it was the nobles. If it wasn’t he nobles… well, you get the idea. He wrote lots of things and lots of other people liked it and formed gatherings based on what he wrote. Sometimes he formed gatherings around the things he wrote, too. And then he pissed them off. Point is, he kept pushing the envelope.

    We humans are limited, sometimes tragically so. God’s unlimited. I believe that God, through Christ, is inviting us to be with him in the Unlimited. But being un-messy is so much nicer than being open to the unlimited. We need people to push the envelope. I think God needs them, too. “Praise God and sin boldly,” Luther said. Or something like that. You and the gathering at this blog are in that tradition.


    And, judging from the later portraits of Luther, he really liked cookies, too.

  • Check out the developments going on over at Queermergent. Others have a similar heart for the type of festival you describe. There’s a collective grassroots energy that I saw come together when Wallis rejected the BOL welcome ad that really took off when NY State passed marriage equality legislation. It appears to be happening mostly in mainline, Anabapstist and the spiritual but not religious crowds (IOW, the silent sorts that don’t have the PR vehicles to really promote themselves).

  • The truth, Ken. You can always trust the truth (and nothing else). Where religion and truth clash, you ditch that part of religion, reformulate it, and move on.

  • I could actually do that–but, I’m afraid, it would have to be in North County San Diego.

  • B.E. Pagarigan

    If you start a group in North County San Diego count me in John!

  • Get 15 people who want it, someone’s place to do it in, and I’ll be happy to come.

  • This Pennsylvanian would rather not be a part of a “flock of geese,” but rather a “herd of cats.”

  • As for me, I’m actively suspicious of authority. Church authority – pah! Internet disscussion replaces church for me, serioulsy – as I hate getting up in the morning (Sundays included), typically work on Sundays, anyway, and am just that much of a friggin’ introvert.

    I’m kind of bold on the Internet. I don’t follow here because you’re “authority” – I follow because I like you, and I feel like I can say whatever dumb thing I want and discuss things honestly here and view the talkings of people from many different parts of the country and even other countries. The Internet in general has a way of brodening views beyond your own state, town, neighborhood and background. It’s like travel – but without the expense

    Also, we cannot throw Bibles at each other because the Internet hasn’t developed the reach-out-and-touch technology yet. (If such tech is ever developed, expect to hear of many strangling deaths in the news from people on more contentious forums).

  • LSS

    he will have to abide.

  • LOL LOL LOL Bernie Madoff at Occupy Wall Street…ROFL

    Honk if you love John Shore…

  • Suz

    They sound like pretty tame geese over there, John. I like your flock; nobody here mills around aimlessly, nibbling on random bugs and pooping on the lake-shore. Your geese get into the V formation and fly with purpose!

  • Rosalie Addison via Facebook

    I really thought about making the effort to attend next year. Now…not so much. THANKS for your insight; and we might be the festival but it would be amazing if something like that actually existed somewhere besides in cyberspace. THAT I would go to – definitely.

  • So would I.

  • Amelia

    A really cool place to visit is this:

    Gareth was somewhat part of this group (or at least friends with everyone in it including my husband) for a while before he moved to the States.

    Anyhoo, check out ikon. They aren’t afraid to ask any questions and they will rarely give any answers 🙂

  • Mindy

    If only I lived slightly north of San Diego. I’d be there in a heartbeat.

    I love this piece, John. It is totally getting down to the nitty-gritty. The real. You know, where HUMANS are.

  • Amelia

    Sorry, got carried away and forgot to write the rest of my thought. ikon do a lot of questioning but I’ve always felt very sure where they stood on issues. And in the context of Northern Ireland and the very sureness each ‘side’ feels, ikon is a breath of fresh air for so many.

  • John Shore – PREACH! Seriously. Thank you. A million times, thank you for stating unequivocally, what the heart of the matter is.

  • Tana Schott via Facebook

    You’ve just hit the nail on the head as to why I’ve been really wanting to go, (but then, also, not really sold on the idea). Clarity is so beautiful.

  • anonyjonnny

    There’s a difference between the liberal and the radical. As a rule, Europe (where I’m sitting right now) does a better job of defining the differences of those two schools of thought than the American conversation (where they are often equated). There’s a place for liberalism and indeed an audience for that.

    So within the emergent movement, there are liberal strands and radical strands; those dreaming of reformation and those dreaming of revolution; sojourners and Catholic Workers…

    In short, I’m not so sure there’s any use hoping for the wild goose to grow the set of teeth you want it to… in my opinion, anyway. But I was wrong, once…

  • Deb Curnock via Facebook

    John, you are breaking my heart! I haven’t attended Wild Goose but it was inspired by our British Greenbelt festival, and Greenbelt *is* that dream festival you describe. the organisers would never limit the program to a few hot topics, because it’s a place where theology as you say “swells up from the people”. Anything people are making art about, doing theology about, can get on to the program. Hundreds of contributors define the prevailing themes. In 2011 much of the program was about LGBT acceptance, a lot was about Israel/Palestine, a lot about hell and universalism, and a hell of a lot- ; ) – about redefining church. Sure, arguing and Bible bashing happens- you can’t gather thousands of people and ban arguing- but it’s a place where bridges are built and barriers broken down. You describe how you would like the festival to be, but what made you think Wild Goose isn’t this? Perhaps it has lost something in the translation from the UK, I really hope not. You would be perfect for Greenbelt. I’d love to see you over here.

  • Rainer

    Some places could use getting “pooped on”…

  • I did share 😉

  • Thanks, Sue Hatcher!

  • me too, me too

  • Okay, cool. So that’s two. God, no wonder I’m so huge. Good job, you guys!!

  • LOL…<3

  • she is down under, and I am west coast – everyone else is asleep..

  • Christie L.


    I’ll come!

    …and John, I can now, really, imagine that’s how your conversation went. 🙂

    John Shore: the maniacal, non-whispering, genius and speaker of truth

  • You guys are up late, aren’t you? For me its 3pm.

  • Asleep. Pffft. Losers. Don’t people know I’m WRITING?

  • Ha!…and facebooking!

  • AND avoiding housework. Mostly that.

  • A clean house means a wasted life…or that your computer is I’ve heard.

  • I actually can herd cats, considering I have four who control most of the house…Ok they herd me.

    And John, I am glad to be a part of this radical group.

  • I never understood how preachers can talk so much and say so nothing!

  • Susan in NY

    OK, call me clueless. Why would Gray Goose not want you? I don’t get it.


  • I LOVED this blog…AWESOME job!!!

  • Christie L.

    How much am I loving the robes and DOOD. He abides. Oh yes, he abides. 🙂

  • HA! “… some mullet-wearing, middle-aged stoner droning on about how Journey and Styx still rock the universe…” You’re awesome 🙂

  • A’isha

    Dude, can you crank the stereo up. Styx rocks! Oh, and pass me the j, man. Quit Bogarting it.

    (Sorry…couldn’t resist pretending to be a middle-aged stoner. No mullet though!)

  • Why don’t you hold the kind of event that you yearn to attend? Like you, I yearn. That is why I’m seeking a minister to lead the church I want to help start. I suppose you might say that I yearn for for a church that is unitarian
    and universalist rather than a socialist, humanist debating society. My favorite UU joke was that unlike KKK members, the UUA members would burn a question mark on the lawn. I know that YHWH exists and Yehoshua is the son of YHWH. IMHO, the sacred space that should be a Sabbath worship service is not the time or place to be communing with avowed atheists and pagans. Can I find common ground with them? Sure. Can I worship with them? Really, shouldn’t the question be, “Can they worship with me?” If they don’t worship YHWH, the answer would obviously be, “No.” I got chewed out once by a pagan one Sunday for daring to say in my talk that paganism was an early form of searching for the divine that humans outgrew after we heard the call of YHWH. I guess that I wasn’t inclusive enough but honestly, just how inclusive can a religious service be before it ceases to be religious? (More questions.)

  • Maggie

    You’ll be happy to hear I’ve deleted my comments of offendenness until I can actually see straight and read this again. But be forewarned, my hackles are already raised by your stereotype as liberals being wishy washy. Maybe some are but your wishing to stride in the middle might strike some as a manifestation of pablum in its esoteric form.

  • Maggie

    Seriously John, you’ve got your good points and all but your bloggies that adore you are feeding into an egomania that is not in your best interest. Not that I don’t love them – Christy, DR, not so much Shadsie – she writes too long of entries though her heart is in the right place. But as an invisible friend I’d recommend working on balance.

  • Diana A.

    I like Shadsie. I don’t think her comments are too long at all.

    I read John’s blog because I like it. I make comments because I consider them pertinent to the discussion (most of the time, at least. Sometimes, I’m a bit of a clown.) I’d say that if John’s readership goes down or he starts getting criticism from people he respects, he’ll probably change his style. Until then, he probably won’t.

  • anonyjonnny

    Hi Deb,

    Greenbelt is indeed miles ahead of most US-based gatherings on a lot of social issues, but isn’t as utopian as you suggest. I’m a regular attender and know a couple of people in an organising capacity. I’d argue that GB, particularly on LGBT issues, is somewhat mired in the cul-de-sac of the ‘conversation’ and ‘dialogue’ that John rightly identifies as the language employed to avoid having to take a strong stance or action. Christian Aid has made clear they’d pull out their backing (and no small amount of cash) if LGBT issues ever move beyond a ‘difficult discussion’ we’re all having.

  • I don’t have a style, really; I have the voice in which I write, and can’t write in any other. And I have zero idea what Maggie means by “I’d recommend working on balance.”

  • “Wishing to stride in the middle”? “Pablum in its esoteric form”? Again: I have no idea what you’re talking about.

  • You know you want the mullet. Say it. SAY IT!

  • Anon: Are you serious? Christian Aid gives money to put on Wild Goose, and has actually made their continuing to do so contingent upon WG remaining fuzzy on the gay issue? Is that true? Yikes.

  • LSS

    i’ve heard of the radical middle, but this ain’t it.

  • LSS

    i’m not one of the in-crowd and sometimes i think you are rude and stuff, but that’s just part of your style/voice/whatever, especially (apparently) when your wife doesn’t check your work. you should see my emails that my husband hasn’t checked… oh wait, you have.

    and i like the long comments… that’s where i feel like i get to know several people and their ideas, like this blog has many writers. also, that makes for balance, because a lot of times the long comments correct something really important.

  • LSS

    i think he was saying that about Greenbelt, the British one. but it would be interesting to look if the same thing is happening at the US one.

  • LSS

    i’m seeing a goose with dentures. it’s funny.

    your other point about radical vs. liberal isn’t funny, and is very useful.

  • Deb

    Well that’s pretty disturbing if that’s true. But I suppose what I was trying to get at was that these festivals are not meant to be a place where a clear stance is declared. It’s an arts festival, not a political party conference. What’s wrong with a place for dialogue? That’s the whole point of such gatherings. It’s a pretty damn miraculous thing that happens there. people come with their different views and they meet each other, discover real human beings and they talk and they change. The thing may not be perfect, but good things do happen there.

    And, I was really puzzled that John seemed to be saying that by declaring a party line, instead of making room for everyone to say whatever they are saying right now, that it would be a more radical event.

    And I would so love to have John host something at Greenbelt.

  • vj

    I like Shadsie too! Maggie, I think it is most improper of you to single her out as someone you don’t love ‘so much’. Who asked you? If you think her comments are too long, just don’t read them…

    Shadsie, keep doing your thing!

  • Not enough coffee in me to join this conversation coherently. But just wanted to say Bravo to Skip’s comment.

  • DR

    Good Lord, Maggie. People disagree with John all of the time and say so, he’s not some kind of hero, he’s a writer who is writing things that a lot of people wish had been written so well a long time ago. I think you’re projecting some of your own personal issues onto this particular blog.

  • DR

    Maggie, you need to make up your mind. First John is being coddled by the liberal christians on this forum feeding into his “egomania” (that apparently can be discerned over the internet). Now he’s not being quite Liberal enough for you?

    Perhaps John might consider writing a blog that’s expressly customized to your specific preferences. Or better yet, how about you write one yourself and stop projecting your own personal issues all over the place in such creepy way (seriously, calling out specific commenters here is out of line. I don’t care I think we’re all clear on how invested I am in the opinions of others but to call out Shadsie is an a-hole move and I don’t care what your justifications are).

  • (Um. My wife very, very rarely reads anything I put on my blog before it goes up.)

  • (my/our hero, DR)

  • Thanks, hero!

  • Monica Neiderman via Facebook

    just host it. they will come. 😉

  • DR

    I believe in hell, by the way. DISAGREE!


  • Christian AID is one of the major sponsors of Greenbelt. The types of funders Wild Goose lined up for it’s first year seems to be very similar to Christian AID, a group speaks out on social justice issues but like Sojouners draws the line when it comes to LGBT rights. (I don’t know them well enough to know if like Sojourners all issues relating to human sexuality like abortion aren’t discussed beyond admitting this is a “difficult decision.”)

    In a nutshell, this is a philosophy that claims to be affirming of LGBT people as a marginalized group that one “should” minister to as a good Christian. But as Bible believers , they cannot honor their “sin” by welcoming them in as full members of their church as long they are living the “homosexual lifestyle.” In more “progressive” (sic?) Xn settings, LGBT people can come in the door and maybe serve in a leadership position as long as they pledge not to “sin” by remaining celibate.

    WG will remain on some level beholden to this way of thinking until they decide to break free from Sojourners/Red Letter Christians (group founded by Tony Campolo, who is definitely anti-gay and has compared the RLC theology to that of the Family, a group with known ties to the anti-gay legislation in Uganda – to date NO ONE listed on the RLC website has spoken out against this). Skim the God’s Politics blog and RLC sites and you will see that the vast majority of those folks who headlined at Wild Goose are part of one or both groups – and that includes Gareth, the founder of WG.

    I agree that in these difficult economic times, it’s easier to go with the known commodity because if you play the Sojo/RLC card, you will get X number of folks who come. And to be honest, they could not have really promoted this anymore – everyone in the evangelical progressive world knew about this event.

    Think about this, WG was reasonably priced and had a line-up that represented the who’s who of evangelical progressive Xnity – and yet only 1.700 people came even though it was less than a day’s drive for those living form DC to Atlanta. You get more than that number on any given day who show to OWS in NYC not to mention many of the other cities around the world where this is happening – and you’re seeing some really interesting stuff happening there re people of faith mobilizing here. (And with that comes of course Sojourners sudden interest in OWS now that it’s become popular (skim the blog if you’re bored and you’ll note that unlike the real alternative press, they didn’t jump on this until the mainstream media did.)

    But people of faith are kicking ass and coming together in other venues around the issue of radical inclusion (I use this term because these groups also tend to be more multicultural with women in leadership positions unlike the white male married leadership one finds in most progressive evangelical settings) – these are folks whose theology does not view homosexuality as sinful but sees all as created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26). So for them welcoming LGBT folks is a no-brainer – the challenge is getting their institutional denominations to catch up to the times but I’ve seen some major shifting these past few years.

    Heck over 900 Methodists in NY annual conference signed a petition to override their denominations’ objection to same sex marriage and you easily have more than 1.700 pro-gay people of faith marching in NY Pride. (If WG is pro-gay, why is there no mention on their site that this is held during Pride Month AND they booked the 20111 and 2012 festival for the same weekend as SanFran and NYC pride – thus precluding many LGBT folks and allies from attending. There are other weekends in Pride that one could pick that would involve a conflict for some but these two weekends get folks coming in from around the world.)

  • There is a definite party line being towed at Wild Goose – it’s strongly informed by Sojourners/WG. There have been numerous accounts by LGBT people who were there that felt they were treated like second class citizens.

    ON some issues like the environment, sex trafficking etc. wide swaths of Christians have come together. But LGBT and abortions rights remain the dividing lines in the sand – and with now over half of Americans now supporting same-sex marriage, coupled with the rise of anti-gay bullying the time has come now to take a prophetic stand. And you can’t say “bullying is bad” without addressing the bad evangelical theology that gives rise to a culture where it’s OK to treat another human being as less than you because of how they were born. THAT is what the LGBT community is asking people of faith to do just as churches stood up for civil rights circa 1963 – that was NOT a popular stance (I know my dad’s advocacy on this issue as an Episcopal priest circa 1950s resulted in so much push back from respectable Christians that it broke his spirit and was a major contributing factor to his early demise).

  • DR

    This is insightful. No longer a supporter of Christian AID just like I’m no longer a supporter of Sojourners (which kills me, I adore them).

    I don’t care if they do a lot of good things and the only reason “it’s complicated” – as these organizations are prone to say – is because they refuse to pick a lane. Gay kids are killing themselves as a result of these organizations as well as all of us who are mainstream christians not wanting to get our hands a little dirty and pick a lane on this issue and stay there. There is no grey area and if you’re not black or white, you don’t deserve my money. As a matter of fact I have a lot more respect for organizations that just come right out and say “We’re anti-homosexuality and those who are gay are not welcome here”. These kind of halfway BS approaches are cowardly.

  • DR

    Art is about purpose, about expression and about truth. Declaring stances is exactly what art does and as a result, creates conversation.

  • tim conard

    totally with you on this, john.

    it is good to question and contemplate, but if it never leads to taking a stand and making a difference it’s nothing more that meditational masturbation (which may be fun, but doesn’t really satisfy anyone)…

  • DR

    And Deb, since when is GLBT rights a “political” issue? Did you call Civil Rights a “political” issue? The emotional, spiritual and even physical components of gay men and women are destroyed by these beliefs, some of them don’t even make it into adulthood. You just minimizing this into some kind of discussion on politics is a little shocking. This is a human rights issue – an evil in our church that needs t be uprooted, exposed, and destroyed before we destroy any other kids (or adults).

  • Deb

    Right, DR. Ideally at a festival, everyone gets to declare their own stance and conversation happens. It sounds as if GB and WG might be limiting the range of voices that are allowed to speak out. My experience of GB has been that no “party line’ on LGBT issues is stated but it’s recognised that a dialogue or debate needs to happen and that takes the form of pro-acceptance speakers (Gene Robinson, Peter Tatchell) addressing punters of all persuasions. I’ve never heard an anti-gay speaker there. That has led me to believe that on the whole the organisers are pro-acceptance and want to win people over through encounter and conversation- because as we all know, it’s relationships with real LGBT people that changes people’s hearts. I’m glad that GB creates that space. It would be nice to have a gathering of like-minded people but places for dialogue are needed too!

  • DR

    One doesn’t need to have an “anti-gay” speaker to be anti-gay. That there are sponsors who give money to this festival in order for it to exist who have publicly stated they are “anti-gay”, then there’s a bias.

    And I disagree that relationships with LGBT people are what changes hearts – not entirely, how many times have we seen people here who promote homosexuality as something against God’s plan as “having a gay sister, brother, friend, cousin, etc.”. These are things that we are giving organizations like Christian AID as well as Sojourners a pass on because they’re doing a number of really good things outside of this. Well those good things are horribly diminished by their chicken sh*& stance on this issue. It’s a slimy thing to be collecting money while coming up short in being declarative about this issue that is so critical.

  • Deb

    I’m bi, DR. My effeminate, possibly gay little nephew has to hear homophobic ranting from his dad, while his mom tries to ignore who he is.. I’m the aunty that’s there to show I see and love his whole personality. I have trans friends, the only place they feel safe to go out is my church. I hope and pray and fight for this evil to be uprooted.

    I’m not sure what you’re reading in to what I said. Oh boy, I love this blog so much and the first time I de-lurk I wait till something gets me riled up and defensive and come over all snarky. Sorry. I think you are wonderful DR.

  • Deb -I had an overall very positive experience when I spoke at Greenbelt in 2007. I think the problem would come if Greenbelt as an institution would take a pro-gay stance similar to their advocacy on say Palestine. But I wonder how much longer one can remain silent when kids are being killed literally – in at least 76 countries, it’s illegal to be gay and people are both being murdered and committing suicide for trying to live their lives as God made them.

    Yes, Greenbelt invited some pr0-gay voices to the center stage – I gather all of the LGBT folks who spoke at Wild Goose were relegated to the side stages. But Greenbelt has invited Tony Campolo, Shane Claiborne and Jim Wallis on the center stage all of whom adopt the “affirming but not welcoming” posture I’ve illuminated. I’ve noted elsewhere in the comments some serious concerns re Tony and Jim’s take on not welcoming LGBT folks. And Shane has made it clear that LGBT issues is not a cause he’s “prepared to die on a hill for.” They should stop booking these kind of folks if they want real progressive change.

    Give me a hard core “God Hates Fags” fundie any day of the week – at least then I know to run for the hills. This affirming but not welcoming BS is as Dan Savage puts it “God’s Hates Fags with a Smile.”

  • Don Whitt

    Dearest DOOD,

    This was both very funny and nail head-hitting.

    Most ministers sell good feelings, not the uncomfortable truth. They sell water by the river. They sell unicorns. They’ll sell anything that gets butts in pews and hot dishes at pot lucks. I’m surprised Disney hasn’t built a religious section in their park. Jesus Christ and the Twelve Apostles all with big heads and soft, fuzzy exteriors ready for photo ops just outside Bible Tours in 3D.

    There’s only so much about us humans that’s divine. That modicum of divinity is achieved by staring the truth in the face and acting on it rather than being stupid, hateful, selfish humans. Doubting is part of the deal, but it’s no more divine than belly button lint or saying “blessings” all the time.

  • mike moore

    “sweet” and “poetic”? Sincere thanks, but be careful with dangerous words like that – I have my “trouble-maker” reputation to uphold. xo.

  • Maggie

    Sorry – You’re right and I generally don’t read them.

  • Hi John

    Good to meet you last week; I found our conversation stimulating. I’m going to write to you personally to continue the conversation later on. For now I’m a little confused by your post, as the purpose of our meeting was for me to invite you to the festival, which I did at the beginning and end of our meeting, and I’m happy to do so again now. I hope you’ll consider coming to Wild Goose 2012; I would be glad to have you participate in a discussion about the things you’re raising here. I think you’ll find Wild Goose to be exactly the kind of space where people aren’t afraid to talk about difficult things; and while you and I may personally differ on what the three most important issues facing Christianity today happen to be (I’d go with 1: violence, 2: the religious underpinning of nationalism, and 3: the religious driving of sexual prejudice and the way LGBTQ people may be scapegoats arising out of a denial of the need to talk about sexuality generally and its relationship to what it means to be human) there’s certainly room for actively and fearlessly engaging all of this and more at the festival.

    Please keep in touch.



    PS: Thank you for the compliment, but I’m not the founder of the festival, just the Executive Director, and glad to be part of a large diverse community of people stewarding the festival vision, and intentionally working to become more diverse all the time.

  • Maggie

    Again, my apologies. Drunk posting is my feeble defense.

  • Deb – thanks for your contributions and your story. The problem is that festivals like WG promise to be “safe” places and then invite anti-gay voices to come into the same room. I’m tired of people being lured into “affirming” places only to learn that they can only be truly welcomed if they deny who they are.

    EASY solution to this – Don’t promote yourself as an LGBT advocate if you’re not prepared to grant the same rights/rites to all.

  • Deb

    Becky, you may be right. I’m having a hard time with this one. GB has always seemed such a powerful force for good. We *always* have to keep open dialogue going. So many people have made the shift from anti-gay to affirming and, more broadly, from fundie to progressive, and it’s relationship and dialogue that does it, and GB is one of the places that people get exposed to different views and different people.

    I know what you mean about “God hates fags with a smile”. The hardest thing to understand is that people do not understand the harm they are doing. I know this because I was raised in a fundie home, by folks who tried with all their hearts to love, love, love the sinner, while hating the “sin”. And those are the folks who *will* change- given enough opportunities to truly listen to LGBT folk.

  • TBN built The Holy Land Experience in Florida. So Disney doesn’t to do it.

  • Deb

    Thanks Becky. I’ve enjoyed talking to you. Now, I have to make a start on that sermon, that I haven’t been writing cos this conversation totally derailed me. It’s on the theme of heaven, hell and universal salvation. I wonder.. where could I go for some inspiration on that topic? Hmm… ; )

  • Sonja

    “the religious driving of sexual prejudice and the way LGBTQ people may be scapegoats arising out of a denial of the need to talk about sexuality generally and its relationship to what it means to be human”

    I’d go to a forum/lecture/whatever about that! I’ve never thought of it that way, before.

  • Gareth Higgins! Hello!

    So, wait. You’re telling me you did invite me to speak at Wild Goose, and I somehow missed that?

    Wow. You guys really do suck at communicating.

    Har. Kidding! But, yes, I did miss that invitation. Your initial reaching-out-to-me email said that you’ve enjoyed my writing, thought it would resonate with what WG is aiming for, and would like to talk with me about that. That was basically the extent of our pre-chat e-chat. So I thought the point of our meeting was to see if you wanted to invite me—which certainly seemed reasonable to me. So then we met; then we chatted; then I raved at you ala’ the above; then we amicably parted. And while I wasn’t waiting for it or anything, I couldn’t help but notice that, in the end, you hadn’t ever actually invited me speak at WG. And, as I say above, why you hadn’t didn’t exactly strike me as a mystery.

    Dude, if I were you, I wouldn’t have invited me. I would have thought, “Whoa. Way too intense. Maybe not.”

    Anyway, sorry I missed your invitation the first time. I certainly appreciate you now, right out here in public, inviting me to Wild Goose to … participate in a discussion.

    So … wait. Am I … ? Is that … ? Should I be … ?

    I’m so confused.

    But I’m sure it’s just me.

    Communication. It’s like simple. But different.

    Anyway, thank you for writing. It’s good to hear from you!

  • Deb – Many of the same arguments used against women and African Americans to keep them “in their place” are now employed against LGBT folks. In every movement there comes a tipping point when denying people their basic civil rights as US citizens becomes absurd. 2011 was that tipping point for the LGBT movement – this is when over half of Americans said they support same sex marriage, NY State passed law legalizing same sex marriage (within 5 years, those states that say NO to this legislation will be seen as backward hicks), The Episcopal Church and other denominations continue to ordain LGBT clergy who are leading vibrant congregations, a host of celebrities and other newsworthy individuals have come out as gay or lesbian and their careers have flourished.

    Yes there was as time for that dialogue but IMO that time is over – now is the time for prophetic action in the same way people of faith stood up for the rights of African Americans circa 1960. And for those who still like to pretend that one can advocate for social justice sans LGBT rights, sorry – the stats on LGBT poverty esp. among trans folks (esp. trans people of color) boggles the mind – people are suffering and dying due to bad theology.

    This isn’t to say that issues of marginalization get resolved once and for all – for example, you see an anti-feminist backlash fueled in part because folks felt once women got ordained and elected to Congress that we were “done” because women were all treated as equals. (The other part requires a dissection into the Mary Daly radicalization of second wave feminism that is another post entirely). As issues relating to global women’s rights indicate that was a crock – and you’re seeing a third wave feminism that’s more inclusive rising up that’s fascinating to watch as it evolves.

  • “DOOD.” I love it. [Friends: someone on my Facebook page named me a Doctor of Online Divinity: DOOD. So. That’s what that is.]

    Sharp/funny comment, as always Don Whitt. (Did you see where I’ve put on my front page (under “Relationships”) the letter you once wrote me about ignoring your wife?)

  • See, now THIS is the kind of admission I like to see on this blog. I think from now on, we should all just SAY when/if we’re commenting while drunk. We could have a little sign, like, “[hic!]” or [: -/ , or something, that will mean that between us. Then we’d all, like, well, know.

    Man. I wonder how often we’d SEE that here.

    But never from ME, of course. Because that would be wrong.

  • DR

    haha! It happens. xoxo

  • Deb

    Then we’ll have to agree to disagree, Becky, because I can never see a time when dialogue is useless. Prophetic action, yes. But I haven’t quit actively engaging with Christianity, though it has such a terrible record on these matters.

  • Deb: I like what you’ve said here; it has a lot of value. But it also seems to me that dialogue is useless–or something too close to it—when the point of the dialogue is to dialogue—when it’s not purposefully and resolutely heading toward any sort of real resolution: when, in other words, it’s just wheel-spinning. I get really itchy, really quickly, when I can see that people are more interested in talking about an important issue than they are in actually arriving at any conclusion about that issue. It drives me insane. If a topic is big enough, and important enough, to “dialogue” about, it’s important enough to achieve clarity about. If that’s not what’s happening—if you’re essentially just pretending to be interested in a solution to a problem by endlessly talking about that problem—then, I think, at that point it’s fair to say the dialogue in which you’re engaging, or facilitating, is useless.

  • Don Whitt

    Oh, man. That was a great exchange – thanks again for that. I’ve learned/am learning a lot about making my wife happy in our relationship.It’s so simple, really, when I stop thinking about my selfish perspective and look at what she really wants. What she’s asking for, which is ME. Duh.

  • Yeah, right? But (if you’re like me), it’s so hard to kind of basically understand what it means when someone clearly wants, only, you.

    I was always, like, “Yeah, you THINK you want me. But, trust me: You don’t.”

    Which is an unhelpful emotional response.

    Still. It’s hard to be truly loved. You’re stuck either disrespecting the dupe lame enough to fall for your routine—or having to face the fact that you might be Actually Loveable.

    Thank GOD for TV.

  • John, Hi! First time commenter, long time blog reader. Hey listen, I think you got it wrong. Dead wrong. I was there and often I thought, “Why isn’t John Shore a speaker here? He would totally be down with this! He better speak here next year!”
    So I was saddened to read your post and see just how wrong your assessment of Wild Goose is. I was there when Jay Bakker gave his talk on the importance of Christians supporting LGBT and outright refuting Jim Wallis. My wife went to the Sexuality and Justice panel with many speakers who entertained an excellent discussion on how everyone can support justice for LGBT people. I was there for Bart Campolo’s great talk on how he came to be a Universalist while at the same time being a evangelical youth minister/missionary. I think what you’re not grasping is the diversity that was at Wild Goose. There were speakers there who drew definite conclusions on many issues. Its just that they didn’t all agree with each other. And one of the most exciting things for me was coming to a Christian festival were everyone had the freedom to disagree and there was still love and unity. The festival that you imagine did happen. You just weren’t there to experience it. Don’t make that mistake twice 🙂 If you don’t see enough of your voice there at Wild Goose then go, add your voice. You will be welcomed.

  • LSS

    i thought rights *were* politics, because they have to do with the laws and policies that the politicians make?

  • So I can’t stop thinking about this and I have to admit that now, my initial reaction was ridiculous. Bottom line, I haven’t been to WGF. I’ve heard about last year’s WGF, but that’s not the same as having actually been there, having actually experienced it. Any impressions I’m getting from various sources can only be verified by actually attending the festival.

    It’s also occurred to me personally (this is not an assumption about anyone else and only an ah-ha about me) that I’m having a wee bit of trouble seeing myself at WG because I still have a lot of work to do with regard to how and why I put my trust in any, ANY organization.

    So, having not been there, and having not received a t-shirt, I have no place to stand in judgement of the festival. None. That’s not to say I can’t listen to the various voices of people who have been there and consider their pov. But jumping to conclusions is, in hindsight, rather ridiculous given my involvement, which is to say – I’m not involved.

  • Oh. never. I’m shore. Wait, sure.

  • Mitchell Hay

    Hey John,

    Sorry to be a day late to the comment party. I’m a classic old lefty UMC minister, long active in GLBTQ issues in this hoary old church and at the successfully secular level here in the People’s Republic of Vermont. I gotta say I was more than pleasantly surprised at the very strong voices for GLBTQ equality among the speakers and participants at Wild Goose, with the notable exception of Jim Wallis. Claiborne, Pagitt, Jones, Bakker (!), Scandretti, and Tickle all made gender and orientation primary or secondary aspects of their talks. And of course, having Jennifer Knapp give her first Christian concert post-coming out lent a powerful voice as well. My New England prejudices about southern post-evangelicals was shattered to subatomic dust by my time there with my family. So go to Wild Goose II and have a blast!

  • Yeah, I disagreed with John once. Once. And he didn’t hesitate to lay the smackdown. And I still kept my cool. (Ok, maybe twice.)

    It’s a community here, Maggie…..and sometimes a family. A family that found each other out of our own dysfunctional past that doesn’t just like what John writes; we get it. We feel it. And to be with other people who get it is a healing process. And since that’s hard to find in person, this living room serves as our meeting place. A place where we feel safe to express ourselves. It’s also where we’ve all learned a great deal. Not just about doctrine or theology, but about patience (Brian W.) and anger (too often throbbing blood vessel below my right eye) and compassion (nobody talks smack about A’isha or puts Shadsie in a corner and doesn’t hear from one of the other of us). Barnmaven, Mindy, Diana A., DR, Don, LSS, vj….. And every day more and more who get it, and aren’t afraid to say so. (By the way, I’m worried about Tweedle – haven’t heard from him in awhile.)

  • Hi John

    This is why I rarely comment on blogs ;-).

    But in short – yeah I invited you to the festival, I think twice during our conversation, but I understand the lack of clarity. If you come I would like to have you participate in the program; but it would be a misunderstanding to think that the only or best way to participate is to give a talk. Part of the point of the festival is to host conversations that involve the people who are attending rather than the typical emphasis on top-down, hierarchical speechifying at ‘Christian’ events. Thus in the first year of the festival, many people participated in what we called A & Q sessions, where they spoke for 15 or 20 minutes posing a question about which they are exercised, allowing twice as much time for the audience to engage as participants in dialogue by trying to answer the speaker’s question. We also hosted discussions on sexuality and justice, prison reform, restoring our relationship with creation, storytelling as a way of addressing trauma and many other topics. Some of these discussions arose informally, some were programmed, some were stimulating, some were fractious, some were moving, some were entertaining, all were unfinished, because the point of the festival is not for us to be right about everything, but to create space for us to be more human the rest of the year.

    We are just beginning to plan the talks program for next year; because of the historic and contemporary role of some religious institutions in prejudice, particularly on grounds of gender, ethnicity, gender identity, and sexuality, we are seeking to privilege marginalized voices across the festival program generally, and so we haven’t yet made any formal invitations for individual talks. But I am inviting you to be part of an on stage discussion, engaging with the issues that you consider to be of concern for Christianity as outlined in this post. More may follow, but for now, please consider yourself invited to contribute your voice to the festival, and let’s talk one to one about this going forward – I need to stop working for the weekend and would rather continue this conversation via email than in blog comments. I’m only responding here as you raised the question on your blog in the first place and I think some of the comments imply a misunderstanding.

    You’re not too ‘out there’ for Wild Goose – I hope you’ll find a piece of home with us.



  • Very good, Mitchell. Thank you for this. I’ll bear in mind what you’ve said here.

  • DR

    I think there’s micro-change via relationships for sure. And there is macro-change that happens on a much larger scale. This thing has gotten so huge and so dangerous that the things that influence church teaching at the macro-level – money and public accountability – create change.

  • Hi, Gareth. I appreciate what you’ve said; thank you for it, very much.

    So, basically, here’s where it’s at for me. If you’d like me to show up at WG, I’d be happy to. The thing is, though, you’d have to give me a minimum of 20 minutes, alone, on stage, during one of the prime speaking slots. That’s the core of the gist of it for me. I’m not trying to be arrogant, or obnoxious, or anything like that. That’s just the minimum of what I’d need in order for it to be worth traveling across the country to come to your affair. If that doesn’t work for you, that’s not a problem for me. If it does, we have something to talk about. Thanks!

  • DR

    This is encouraging.

  • Molly by Golly

    “because of the historic and contemporary role of some religious institutions in prejudice, particularly on grounds of gender, ethnicity, gender identity, and sexuality, we are seeking to privilege marginalized voices across the festival program generally”

    That is a sentiment worth traveling cross country to support. Last year’s lineup of marginalized voices broke out as roughly 71% male and 87% white/anglo.

  • You don’t like my “novels?” Fine, don’t read them then. Hmmph.

    Not the first time I’ve gotten a “td;lr” remark from someone. And, no, I’m not inclined to change.

  • “tl;dr”

    *Smacks forehead* Arrrgh!

  • Did she say something worse about me (in the deleted commentary) than the one thing I saw about my being too verbose? Just curious. I don’t need to know what it is if so. It’s just, if “her posts are too long” is the worst she doled out… don’t worry, I’ve been given worse.

    As for following people with “ego” I already do far worse than Mr. Shore. I’m a U2 fan. That’s probably a lot worse.

    “Manifestation of pablum in its esoteric form.” sounds like lines I’ve read in fan fiction, or maybe a paperback romance novel.

  • Lacy Jaudon via Facebook

    So, John, after reading the comments on the blog between you and Gareth… will you let us know IMMEDIATELY when you find out if you’ll be at the festival?! I’ve been wanting to go to this next one since I found out about it earlier this summer, so the ticket is on my Christmas list.

  • Donald Rappe

    Yes, I love it when the sword comes out.

  • Don Whitt

    Indeed. And zippy interweb!

  • Diana A.

    I didn’t even see her deleted comments. I think they were more directed at John anyway.

  • I didn’t actually know commenters could delete their own comments. Wait. They can’t. (I don’t think.) Maybe she means she deleted them before she published them, even though I’m not actually sure I know what you guys are talking about so lemme be quiet now.

  • Susan in NY

    You see, I thought you thought that GG was too conservative to want you. But their website does not indicate that they are afraid to discuss the tough issues. So I did not understand why they would not want you.

    And now I see that Gareth is interested in you participating. Good.

    Makes sense now.


  • Starfish Convention 2013?

  • anonymouse

    I’m enjoying the discussion about wild Goose. To be honest, this is the *emerging conversation* I have been waiting for.

    Regarding the Wild Goose festival I would like to point those readers who feel it is enough to have straight people as the main speakers advocating equality to the following blog posts, one by a gay man and one by a trans man, both saying that although they enjoyed Wild Goose they were sorry not to see any gay or trans people as main speakers but instead were ‘spoken for’ by straight people.

    I think this is the crux, isn’t it? That straight people need to start recognising that there is no ‘debate’ to be had about ‘whether or not LGBT people can be allowed into the church’, but rather that our eyes are opened; LGBT people are already in the church, they can speak for themselves, they have something to offer which even straight allies cannot offer, and it is time we moved along from the ‘debate’ and started to listen to the people who are already our family in Christ.

    It might be worth noting that these blog posts were written months ago. I didn’t notice much response then. But here we all are now, 124 comments of a discussion which was started by a straight guy. I know maybe that’s a coincidence as John’s blog is obviously very popular, but I wonder if anyone at Wild Goose responded to the blogs above (I don’t think they did in the comments left on those blogs)?

  • DR

    Jason are you gay or straight? There is some testimony from those that are gay here who felt like they were second-class citizens.

  • Christian Connor

    I want to mention one thing that is on my mind a lot. I don’t know why this is because I am a straight man and have never felt the inclination to be other than straight. I don’t have and LGBT people in my family. I have had a lot of friends in the community living in Atlanta for years. Anyway, this “issue”, (I have a hard time calling this an issue it seems more like a persecution to me), is something I spend a great deal of time thinking about. What I have the hardest time with is the concept that if I read the words of Jesus, (and really being a Christian is about trying to be like Jesus isn’t it?), then Christianity is supposed to be an inclusionary group. We are supposed to welcome EVERYONE, we aren’t supposed to be the people who exclude our fellow human beings with demands and judgement. We are supposed to love each other and care for each other. We are supposed to talk to Jesus in our hearts for guidance. Can ANYONE seriously tell me that if they talked to Jesus he would tell us to hate someone because of their sexual orientation? When did Christianity join the ranks of the other exclusionary religions of the world? Why is it so hard to understand that it is far more important to worry about making sure we don’t send a message that turns people away from Jesus with our actions than it is to try and force people to conform to a particular ideology? Sorry for the soapbox!

  • Love it!

  • (So I figure no one will read this, buried way down here on this post that, in Internet-time, is already like last week’s banana. But I am [given all the venues where my stuff appears] the world’s most-read Christian blogger writing in English. So it’s not outrageous to suggest that I might be worth considering as a WG headliner.)

  • Suz


  • Donna Runion via Facebook

    But if anyone ever did, I’d be totally down with it, too.

  • Mindy

    Seems so simple, doesn’t it, Christian? If only all Christians thought like you . . .

  • Mindy

    YES. Sometimes, you just have to give yourself credit. Go, John!!

  • Mindy

    Interesting comment, Maggie. I will just say that the John Shore I’ve gotten to know outside of this blog is anything but egomaniacal. I’m fairly certain that complimenting/cheering on a friend or someone who speaks out in a way with which you totally agree is not feeding it, but being, well, supportive. I find it really odd that you would post here and openly criticize a commenter simply because you don’t care for her style. Patronize much?

  • Mindy

    No, they can’t. Her post about Shadsie is here, so not sure what she thinks she deleted. God forbid I ever post drunk. I have no doubt it would be completely unintelligible. And even though *I* would think it was absolutely hilarious, I have a feeling any attempt at humor at that point would be painfully lame. At least I’m a happy drunk. Maggie, I fear, is one of those mean drunks who just needs to be pissed at someone.

  • LSS

    when you choose “subscribe to replies to my comments” it actually sends you ALL replies and comments on the whole post (not sure if that’s a bug or a feature). so i think a lot of us will see this comment. on the other hand, congratulations!!

  • LSS

    i never knew what that meant before. huh.

    i think i’ve learned more in your long posts, though… LOL. bipolar Jesus is probably going to be in my head forever. (that was you, right? i have a problem of mixing up names)

  • FYI – Shane Claiborne has reiterated on numerous occasions that LGBT issues isn’t something he’s “prepared to die on a hill for”

    Also, to date, no one listed on the Red Letter Christians website (blog buddy, speaker, contributor) has spoken out re Tony Campolo’s comparison of the RLC group to the theology of the Family, a group with known ties to the anti-gay legislation in Uganda).

    Charismatic people often tell us what we want to hear but sometimes you have to do a bit of digging to stop the spin cycle. 🙂

  • “td;lr” is acronym for “Too Long, Didn’t Read.” It’s pretty much (in my opinion) the stupidest snark out there – because if a post was too long and you didn’t read, why bother snarking it? It’s like being proud of *not* doing research, or something.

  • Deb – If I gave the impression I wasn’t pro-dialogue, I apologize. Whenever there are divisions, conversation is the starting point to bring about some resolution and hopefully reconciliation. However, as a writer, I’m always asking the “so what?” question. I’ve been to way, way, way too many Christian gatherings, conferences, etc. that professed to be groundbreaking, etc. but in true Shakespearean fashion, they were full of sound and fury but in the end, signified nothing. These exercises in theological and spiritual masturbation might make those present feel good but they do nothing to address the issues at hand.

  • Diana A.


  • ???

  • Christy

    Projection: “the operation of expelling feelings or wishes the individual finds wholly unacceptable—too shameful, too obscene, too dangerous—by attributing them to another.” ~ Peter Gay, Professor, writer on the history of psychology

    Byron Katie does this thing in “The Work” where she asks folks to turn their statements around to see what their subconscious is really saying: “I try to conform people to my agenda everyday. I also insinuate that every Christian that believes homosexuality is not a sin hates me, which is far from the truth.”

    It’s rather amazing.

  • DR

    Will, John’s not gay. And when your beliefs are driving gay kids to kill themselves? And you care more about posting on an internet website defending yourself instead of reacting to that? Stopping that? Welcome to the hatred in your heart. *indifference* is hate.

  • be real.. i wan’t none else

    i’d love to hear what theology you have to back that up.. because i’m finding a lot of opnions.. and if you are a christian, let me see where this holds up with scripture. i hate to burst your bubble, but the you are not representing radical christians.. you are representing the how this world loves to compromise truth. truth: God loves everyone. truth: God hates sin. truth: homosexuality is a sin (1 cor 6) truth: we are to love all (the greatest commandments) lie: just because homosexuality is “touchy” we are to justify everything they do. truth: God is gracious. truth: God forbids us abusing this grace (romans 6) truth: we have focused so much on God’s love that we forget every other attribute. truth: even then, true love does not comply with the love God has that you are painting.. God loved His son dearly. are we to live on grace and do whatever in light of all Christ did for our completely undeserving selves? please enlighten me.

  • be real.. i want none else

    and before i get any red herring arguments.. yes, it should have been i “want” none else.

    really, i am not usually this harsh in my responses.. ever. you just are put in so much authority with a site this well-known.. i am not a hater.. i love glbt’s.. i have glbt friends.. i just don’t agree that homosexuality should be treated any differently than other types of sins.. i think there should not be rejection of glbt’s in the church just as much as i think there should not be rejection of liars, or thieves, or adulterers, or lazy people.. the accepting or rejecting is not the issue here.. the issue is whether or not we will enable people to stay in sin, or glorify God by letting Him empower us to overcome. we cannot just let people stay how they are.. in every aspect and struggle of life.. we must grow.. we must be real. don’t hide behind the glbt movement. be the real “radical” christians, and show God real. let us not live this short life He has given us in vain.

  • Truth: if the God you believe in keeps you spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually satisfied, then good for you.

  • Again, if you’re happy with God as you understand him/her/it, good for you. I’m a Christian who wants no more to do with the God you imagine is real than I do with a carload of mud. So what? You attend your church; we’ll all attend ours. Maybe after we all die we’ll see who, while on earth, was closer to getting it correct.

  • Christy

    It’s interesting that in all of that you chose the apostrophe as the thing in need of correction.

    Be Real, the issue is whether or not Christians are willing to consider that they might be in error – again – in how they interpret their sacred book. And once again that interpretation has come at the expense of the lives of other human beings and Justice.

    It is not our job to try to change or fix anyone. Love shown to others with an agenda of changing a person is not love; it’s manipulation. Change of any real substance comes from within, and the only person we have any power and responsibility to change is ourselves. This is about us and our relationship with God and not about anyone else we think is in need of changing. And anytime we think we need to change someone, it’s really a lesson about surrender and what we need to change about ourselves.

  • Lymis

    The point is that homosexuality isn’t a sin in the first place, so whether or not it should be “treated like any other sin” is meaningless.

    Yes, homosexual people are, like everyone else, capable of some pretty impressive sins, and yes, some of those sins come from expressing our sexuality – just like it does for straight people.

    Coming up with a list of sins like “lies, theft, adultery or homosexuality” and then saying “homosexuals are sinners like everyone else” is really no different than saying something like “lies, theft, adultery, or left-handedness” and then saying “left-handed people are sinners like everyone else.” That’s true, but it isn’t the left-handedness that makes them sinners. And it isn’t being gay that makes us sinners.

    A left-handed person who uses their left hand to steal is a sinner because they stole, not because they are left-handed. Similarly, a gay person who fails to love, or uses their sexuality inappropriately, to treat someone else as an object, for example sins, but not because they are gay.

  • Diana A.

    “we cannot just let people stay how they are..” Actually, we can and we should. No human being is capable of changing another. Only God can change people. And in fact, the more human beings pressure one another to change, the more likely it is that A) the change simply will not take place at all, since most human beings are stubborn, or B) there will be a change but it will be a purely surface and temporary change.

  • Diana A.


  • Diana A.

    Good insight!

  • John, you know what they say. If you want something done right, sometimes you’ve just gotta do it yourself. There’s plenty of us who’d turn out. Make it happen!

  • be real.. i want none else

    okay, but you still havent answered my question. what theology do you use to back this up?

  • be real.. i want none else

    what is the love that you are talking about? if that is true, parents are to never correct their children, for if they love them, all they should do is let them live and never guide them where they see fit. i am not saying we are to make people our projects. i am saying we are to live our lives as a testimony of Him. God calls us to love, become more like Him, and encourage others. sometimes encouragement doesn’t mean just being nice. it means to help others become more like Christ as well.

  • Mindy

    Can you explain what you mean by “theology?” Because it seems that he backed it up quite clearly with Greatest Commandment. Not sure what else you think is necessary. If you don’t believe in the Greatest Commandment, well, that is certainly your choice. But for those who do, the rest sort of melts away. The stories, the poetry, the many glimpses into the culture and beliefs through ancient history – they are beautiful, troubling, fascinating – all that. But they pale in comparison to God saying clearly, through the ONE human ever chosen to speak for Him, that loving God and loving others as yourself are what you need to remember beyond any of the rest of it.

  • Parents are responsible to guide and nurture and teach their children. Our friends and neighbors are not our projects. To be Christlike in what Christ taught us IS the Greatest Commandment. A section of the Church has turned Christlikeness into unattainable perfection-seeking sinlessness and rule-following rather than living in Christlikeness based on his message and how he taught us to live, love and treat one another.

  • “help others become more like Christ” = loving them and treating them as we wish to be treated. Show. Don’t tell. It’s about us and our behavior toward them, not about trying to get them to change. Just loving them. And by loving them they change themselves.

  • be real.. i want none else

    okay, once again, where is your proof- biblical proof- that homosexuality is not a sin? i don’t want to hear human logic. for even the best of us are depraved.. if you believe in the bible in its entirety is true.. you’ll know that we are to base truth on His word alone. so please. all i am asking for is for anyone to give me some scripture that backs up your argument.

  • be real.. i want none else

    how could you not believe that and believe in the bible at the same time?

  • Mindy

    As a parent, I have learned many different ways to guide my children, to help them understand what is right and what is wrong. And never once has it involved telling them that who they are is sinful. Sometimes, what they do is wrong, of course. So I talk to them about how why it wrong, who it hurt, how they will handle it next time, how can they do better, and how can they make up for whatever hurt they caused.

    Never have I said that some inherent piece of who they is wrong. And at least at this point, I have two pretty spectacular daughters I am blessed to call mine.

  • be real.. i want none else

    yeah, by theology, i mean scripture. the greatest commandment is for us to love Him above all else and love others. what is true love then?

  • be real.. i want none else

    that is not the goal of the church. the church is for fellowship and encouragement. if you feel that the church is trying to make you perfect.. you have just had a bad experience. what did christ teach us?

  • be real.. i want none else

    in the bible, every leader including Christ, had been straight up with the people at one time or another about their sin.. why are we to do so any differently? also.. why would you bring up sin if you don’t believe homosexuality is a sin?

  • be real.. i want none else

    we do not rely on our own human capabilities. we let God use us as vessels. so it is He that changes others. i am not saying we force change. we just let Him use us.

  • Mindy

    Where is your “proof” that being left-handed is not a sin? Where is your “proof” that using medical intervention to conceive a child is not sin? Where is your “proof” that accumulating wealthy is not a ticket directly to hell?

    You are asking a very tired question, one that you know cannot be answered. That doesn’t mean that you have clobbered the argument, dude. The bible does not include “proof” about everything in existence because those who wrote had no understanding of the concept. While they understood same-sex sexual activity, hey had no understanding of sexual orientation, any more than they understood how blood coursed through veins and arteries or that conception could occur in a Petri dish. What the bible does NOT include is conclusive proof that the passages used against LGBT people had anything to do with orientation and not the culturally prevalent abuse of young males by Roman soldiers and the wealthy who visited prostitutes.

  • be real.. i want none else

    well, i’m not going to argue anymore, because i think it’s pointless to go on and on online since we can’t totally understand what the other is saying. maybe someday i can have a healthy discussion with any of you in the future. it’s just something to think about. by the way, i’m not ashamed. my name is asia and i’m a former student of jenni french.

  • Mindy

    Exactly. And without a doubt, God is using John Shore and those of us who understand that LGBT people no more chose how they are wired to love than I chose to be left-handed or have really curly hair to educate the rest of you toward compassion, understanding and empathy.

    I may do a lot wrong in my life, but in this, I know, without question, that I am driven by God to speak out.

  • Mindy

    What is it we’re not understanding about what you are saying? This is always how it ends – “you guys don’t get it, so I’m going home. If you won’t admit that I’m right, I won’t play.”

    I’m glad you don’t feel shame. Shame is one of the more painful emotions to live with. You know, like the shame you dump on gay people by telling them that their identity is sinful? Yeah.

  • Mindy

    Unconditional, pure love. Loving someone without reservation, wanting always what is best for the other. It’s not that complicated, and yet the most complicated thing in the world for some, apparently.

  • Mindy

    I didn’t bring up homosexuality, dear. That was you.

  • Re: “the church is for fellowship and encouragement.”

    You just said in another paragraph: “sometimes encouragement doesn’t mean just being nice. it means to help others become more like Christ as well.”

    Be real – you are all over the place. Could you find a lane and stay in it? Are you arguing against church? Only some kinds of churches? You’re atheist, but now defending a certain Christian point of view. I’m confused.

    What do you mean by “Christlikeness?” And just because it wasn’t your church experience doesn’t mean mine was an isolated case. In case you might have noticed – making people follow rules and be “morally upright” has become somewhat of an Evangelical pass time.

  • be real.. i want none else

    no, it’s not like that. I just think that an actual conversation would allow both sides to more effectively state their point. Besides, I’m a student. I have to go to class.

  • Be real…’re sounding like Thomas.

  • Sorry – got you confused with someone else. Not atheist. But still not following your train of thought.

  • Hi John,

    I was one of the big gay speakers at Wild Goose and had a good time. Both of the panels I shared in, the unaswerable question conversation, the talk about justice in the (largish) venue, and the closing liturgy over which I presided had my big gay agenda all over them (to speak truth, love people, honor my body, etc.). The gayness of my self is the gift of God to me, and like all gifts from God, must be shared with the Body of Christ, the church – that’s why I was glad to be at Wild Goose. And I’m willing and ready to share my big gay experience with anyone, anytime. I’m sort of over being marginalized or being a victim or not having a big enough venue. I get to be a big, gay Christian and share the love that God pours into my heart as promiscuously and prodigally as I can. If there was anything about Wild Goose that caught my attention, it was how polyglot the church is when it comes to the conversation that God is having with queer folk. I really enjoyed escaping from the progressive, inclusive whateverism of San Francisco (my home town) and being (quite literally) down on the farm with Christians of many varieties. And I’m looking forward to the conversation continuing next summer too!

    Your servant,


  • Wash, rinse, repeat.

    The Bible says it’s wrong to lie with a man, like you would a woman. CLEARLY, states that it’s wrong. So, that’s proof.

  • Wash, rinse, repeat.

    Okay…… so basically what I’m getting is that you guys believe that God is happy with everyone just as they are… so, there is no need to change.. then what’s the point of being Christian if there’s no goal to change and be Christ-like?

    You know, one of my teachers is on this now.. whatever you call it.. GCN? She’s this now.. she was, well I thought, one of the most intellectual teachers I had. Now, I don’t understand how she could have bought all the rubbish? She always said it was our goal to be more Christ-like and to illuminate Him in everything we do.. she would try to make us understand that tucking in our shirts and listening in class was all in direct obedience to God through authority. Now, she’s not that lady anymore, she’s someone else. I have GLBT friends as well, but it’s hard to not tell them that it’s wrong. It’s impossible to have the best of both worlds. You may think you can, but you can’t.

    Lev. 18:22, “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.”

    Rom. 1:26-28, “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper.”

    God created an order, it’s wrong to disobey that order.

    Lev. 20:13, “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltness is upon them”

    The Bible does say God loves us all, but will he let murderer’s into heaven if they’ve not repented of their sin and turned away from it? Liars? Thieves? Sexually immoral? On another page, I read a post about being true to who I am and coming out.. So, if I wanted to murder someone should I lie to myself and not do it or should I be true to myself from the start and kill? God will still love me if I kill someone, but God is a just God and he will judge me for what I have done, because the Bible says it is wrong to murder. Just as it says homosexuality is wrong.

    Show me your theological justification of homosexuality. All of it. God loves us all, we know that. But where does it say homosexuality is okay if in a committed relationship? Where does it say that any relationship, other than man and woman who are married, is right in the eyes of God? Just answer that question. SHOW ME THE PROOF.

    You’re responsible for the people following you on this blog and have had some sort of influence on their decisions which affects their after life.

  • DR

    This is such a manipulative, self-absorbed way of talking to people, it’s kind of shocking that those of you who do it don’t have the self-awareness around that.

    You need to understand that you’re *demanding* that John have the kind of conversation you want to have about this topic on *your* terms. When it’s not even your blog! It’s so bizarre to me that you push your way into conversation like this and then somehow become so surprised when you’re not met with open arms.

    Those of you who approach these conversations with a “Show me the scripture or else” posturing do so with this kind of aggressive hostility that makes me feel sick to my stomach. The way you use the Bible as your own personal battering ram when you’ve encountered a perspective that doesn’t align with how you are *interpreting* the Bible – by the way that’s all you’re doing, that’s all any of us can ever hope to do – you get hostile. It’s so unsettling.

  • DR

    You brought it up. She didn’t.

  • DR

    How about this – your beliefs that homosexuality is a sin are one of the primary contributors to gay kids killing themselves at 3x the rate straight teenagers are. Their blood is on your hands. Prove to me that you’re innocent.

  • Wash: And you’re responsible for not doing things like calling the theology and philosophy of others “rubbish.” Watch yourself, or go play somewhere else, okay? Thanks.

  • Mindy

    No, Wash, it’s not. First, it’s certainly not proof to anyone who is not Christian – and that’s a rather large number of people. But more pertinent to this conversation, that passage means nothing unless it is examined within the cultural and historical context of the time in which it was written. While I’m not a biblical scholar, I have read enough to know that there is significant academic and theological doubt about the actual meaning of that particular verse. That doubt has been discussed many times on this blog, and if you do some research – from sources that do not have an anti-gay agenda – you will find that enough doubt exists that your condemning LGBT citizens as abominations is far more likely to affect your own eternity than theirs.

  • Mindy

    Oh Wash, really? You find it more comforting to hide behind unclear, multi-translated ancient text while LGBT kids take their own lives at significantly higher rates than straight kids because of the “gay is sin” culture Christianity has created in our country than get out there and actually get to know someone who is gay, someone who is lesbian and married and raising children, and talk WITH them, rather than AT them? That sounds like the right choice to you? That sounds like “love your neighbors as yourselves?” You are the sad result of Christianity grasping at someone, ANYone to be “better than.”

    Read your first little paragraph again? Because what it really says is “What’s the point of being Christian if it doesn’t make us better than everybody else?” Show me “proof” that this is not what you mean.

  • Mindy

    Yes, will. Christians who believe homosexuality is sin hate gay people. They say they don’t. They’ll INSIST they don’t. They might not even mean to. But they hate, yes. They spread hate, they perpetuate the message that LGBT people are not “as good as,” not deserving of the same rights and rewards as straight people. No marriage, no entrance to heaven. But we LOOOOVE our LGBT friends! But they can’t get married, they can’t have families and they can’t sit with Got for eternity. Sorry. We don’t hate them. We just know they aren’t as deserving as the rest of us.

    That’s hate. And you know what else it is? It’s bullshit.

  • I would like to recommend the book “Radical Love” out by Church Publishing – it sets forth a radically inclusive theology that’s Bible based without a doubt. This is becoming an apples/oranges, oil/vinegar, cats/dogs type argument. I view the bible through an Anglican lens that’s becoming increasingly apophatic over time. With over 38,000 denominations (according to Martin Marty), others see through a different lens. That’s OK and I can agree to disagree – if you’ve found a spiritual practice that works for you, go in peace.

    HOWEVER what is not OK is for you to then impose your interpretations to marginalize ANY of God’s children especially if these views will lead to them being killed or committing suicide. This goes against everything Jesus taught.

  • Molly By Golly

    Thank you!

  • Molly By Golly

    Brian D. McLaren’s book, A New Kind of Christianity, touches upon this argument.

  • Wash, rinse, repeat.

    I do apologize for the “rubbish” comment, that was pretty harsh and I was getting to intense. If you don’t forgive me, that’s totally between you and God but I apologize.

    I really am just waiting for your proof though.. that all this is okay. It’s not okay with me what you’ve done to one of the people I know.

  • Sonja

    Preach it, sister!

  • Christie L.

    Thanks for sharing the links with us. I am reading through them now. 🙂

  • yes

  • Thanks so much, Becky.

  • Be real, What is true love is one of those timeless questions that the great sages and poets have written of since there was the written word. There is plenty out there for you to go in search of to find that answer. The process of that search would be a fruitful and beautiful and frightening journey, I am sure, but certainly worthwhile. The willingness to ask and pursue those great questions are what so often lead us to the Divine…..or, truly, is the Divine leading us to it. However, while willingness and seeking and reading words on a page and contemplation so often do enlighten, they are still no substitute for experience. Being open to these experiences is key to finding them.

    In my journey, what I have found is that true love is the way God loves us. It is Divine love. Unconditional love. Selfless love. It is the way all of our mothers should have loved us, but sadly is a love most of us rarely ever find. Yet we are all born with the capacity for this love. It is within us. But so is selfishness/ego/sin. And selfishness/ego/sin blocks Divine love/compassion/true love every. single. time. Selfishness: putting ourselves and our wants, needs and desires first above and before God and others. This is sin. This keeps us from loving and being loved to our full Divine ability. This blocks our connection with God and other people. It inhibits the building of our relationships….when we are number one.

    Our culture is the antithesis of Divine love. This is why Jesus’ message is a radical, counter-culture one: putting the first last (self), the one who loses his life (himself) for my sake will find it, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. “Do this,” Jesus said, “and you will live.” Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

    Having it to the full involves putting ourselves last. This is the great paradox: The servant is rich. The giver is the receiver. The humble one is exalted. This is at the heart and the truth of the Prayer of St. Francis.

    Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

    Where there is hatred, let me sow love.

    Where there is injury, pardon.

    Where there is doubt, faith.

    Where there is despair, hope.

    Where there is darkness, light.

    Where there is sadness, joy.

    O Divine Master,

    grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;

    to be understood, as to understand;

    to be loved, as to love.

    For it is in giving that we receive.

    It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

    and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.


    It is the what I Corinthians 13 teaches us:

    Love never gives up.

    Love cares more for others than for self.

    Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.

    Love doesn’t strut,

    Doesn’t have a swelled head,

    Doesn’t force itself on others,

    Isn’t always “me first,”

    Doesn’t fly off the handle,

    Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,

    Doesn’t revel when others grovel,

    Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,

    Puts up with anything,

    Trusts God always,

    Always looks for the best,

    Never looks back,

    But keeps going to the end.

    Love never dies. (vs 4-8, MSG)

    It’s this kind of love:

    It’s love that forgives 7 x 70, and turns the other cheek, and loves not just our friends but also our enemies. The kind of love that made the beauty of lilies and doesn’t make them bend or toil and knows when every sparrow falls. The kind of love that rains on the wicked as well as the righteous; the sun that shines on the evil and the good. It’s the kind of love that lays down his life for his friends.

    This kind of radical, selfless, unconditional love is what Jesus came to teach – both in word and deed. And following his way, is what will turn us and the world upside down for good.

    Blessings on your journey to finding this love….and as with all spiritual quests, it is primarily a journey within.

  • Mindy

    Such a good point, DR. I so wonder how these commenters would behave if they were to listen to John speak in person and then have the opportunity to ask questions – you know, in front of people. John, do you get this level of hostility when you speak?

  • Mindy

    OK, if it’s not like that, don’t SAY it is like that. This is a blog – a written form of communication. Where people enter someone else’s space and then use writing – full of punctuation, capitalization and proofreading – to make their points clear. If you don’t feel that you are being understood, don’t bag on the conversation; you CHOSE to join it. Work a little harder to make the points you think we are missing. Or, perhaps, think about what we’ve said to you, and see if somewhere, down in the core of your soul, you might see that we could, just possibly, have a point. Or lots of points. Good ones, even.

  • Mindy

    So beautiful, Christy. What a way you have with words . . .

  • Ralph the Wonder Llama

    “But for those who do, the rest sort of melts away.”


    So loving God with all your heart, s0ul, mind, and strength means choosing a single brief passage from the Bible as the only one that matters, and letting the rest of it “melt away”?

    If you love someone the way God instructs you to love him, you want to learn as much about that person as you can, don’t you? Tell me this: How does God say we are to show him that we love him?

  • DR

    Good Lord. Did you even read this? The rest of the Bible obviously matters. You’re projecting your own issues into what was written. Read to understand, please.

  • Ralph the Wonder Lama…..the answer is: by keeping his commandments, the greatest of which is see #1. See how that works?

    I’ve written this elsewhere, but looking at the 10 commandments thematically they are all about selfishness and not being selfish. They are about putting God and others first before our own interests and desires. If we put God and others first, honestly, Mindy is right. The rest melts away. If we are loving God and others they way God wants us to sin becomes a non-issue. If I’m loving my neighbor, it’s pretty hard to be short tempered or jealous or lustful or envious……or lie to or steal from or murder someone. Scientifically it makes sense too: Where your treasure is your heart will be also. When we focus on the positive: loving, feeding, housing, clothing, visiting, healing, serving God and others we live the positive. When we focus on the negative, the thou shalt nots: don’t drink or chew or run around with those who do we end up thinking about the negative and doing those things we aren’t supposed to do.

    What was that old Bing Crosby/Johnny Mercer song? Accentuate the Postive…..

  • Thanks so much, Mindy.

  • Ralph the Wonder Llama

    DR: Thanks for the psychoanalysis; where do I send the check?

    Christy: Is it wrong to concern ourselves with all the commandments, not just the “greatest”? Do we err by trying to consider what God wants to teach us through the entire law and prophets, rather than just the “greatest”? Again, if I really love God I want to know and obey everything he tells me to, not just the “greatest.”

    I like what you have to say about the 10 commandments here, but what about the other 600-plus? What about commandments that look less like “Don’t be selfish” and more (to modern eyes, anyway) like God handing down petty, arbitrary punishments?

    Can we really love a God who imposes the plagues in Exodus, calls for the penalties in Leviticus, and orders the genocide in I Samuel? Or is that the stuff that’s just supposed to “melt away”?

  • Are you arguing for or against God?

  • Ralph the Wonder Llama

    That’s a big question. Before I could answer it, we’d have to degree on a definition of God.

    Atheists love to pile up all the nasty stuff in the OT and ask how you could love a God who does all that stuff, or allows it all to happen. If an atheist asked you that question, what would your answer be? Would you say “I just let it all melt away”?

  • I view the bible as literature written by fallible people who sometimes had an agenda. It is rich with imagery and metaphor and myth and culturally dependent information and perspectives for the time in which it was written and for the people for whom it was written. To read it at face value and assume accuracy with certainty without historical and cultural context and proper translation is a fool’s errand.

    I don’t view God as an anthropomorphic old man who likes some people better than others. The God of the OT ends up coming off much more like Thor. You might find Karen Armstrong’s books The History of God or The Case for God fascinating regarding how our concept of God has evolved over time.

  • DR

    Will you’re so busy being either hostile or defensive that you don’t see you’re doing the Same. Exact. Thing. on this blog. Right from the beginning.

    Look – your beliefs about marriage being between a man and a woman, etc. hurt people. Physically, emotionally and spiritually. That’s been confirmed by hundreds of comments here. Hundreds of testimony. You need to man up a bit and face it instead of blaming people like Mindy who hold you accountable to the impacts of your beliefs. You get to have them, 100%. You are also free to express them. You are choosing to do so here where people are going to be honest about their impact and what we think of you as a result. You don’t get to hurt people in the name of Jesus – we’re talking kids here, gay kids – and at the same time, have everyone hug it out with you. There are people here (myself included) who don’t believe that Grace is giving you some kind of pass or that being kind is being nice to you. Quite the contrary – I’m glad you’re angry. I’m glad you’re offended. I have almost no hope that you’ll change but I know you’ll never forget these conversations. For me? That’s enough. Anger is an activating agent, perhaps it will kick start you into some courageous self-examination. But if not, at least you provide the opportunity for those who have given up on Christ as a result of people like you to see that there are people who are willing to counter you. Who aren’t allowing themselves to be quiet anymore.

  • DR

    First, you’re not my friend I’m not friend with people who place more importance on being “biblically accurate” than they do opening their mind and heart to the fact that their interpretation of Scripture is “right”. Which is nauseating.

    Second, pull your head out of the sand. Seriously. You’re no better or worse off than any of us who believe the Bible to be the Word of God. The only thing you have is how someone has *interpreted* the Bible for you. You’ve decided to put your faith and trust in that interpretation because it serves you to do so which makes you no different from the rest of us. The only difference is that a lot of us are able to admit that we really don’t know – we just don’t know what was *actually* meant a lot of the time. You’re too terrified to allow that to be the case.

  • DR

    First, you’re not my friend I’m not friend with people who place more importance on being “biblically accurate” than they do opening their mind and heart to the fact that their interpretation of Scripture is “right” ***but is causing kids to hurt themselves***

  • Ralph the Wonder Llama

    Some posts don’t have a Reply link … not sure why. (Is it to keep the columns from getting too narrow?) So this comment might not appear in the right place.

    Anyhow, I might agree with you that “To read it at face value and assume accuracy with certainty without historical and cultural context and proper translation is a fool’s errand.” But are you certain that you and Mindy aren’t making exactly that mistake when you talk about the “greatest commandment”?

  • DR

    Will you were hostile with your first comment on this blog and you’ve not stopped, so take some responsibility for that.

    And second, people are hostile with you because – and let me say it again – your “differing opinion” HURTS GAY PEOPLE. Physically puts them in danger – emotionally damages them and spiritually alienates them. What part of that don’t you get?

  • DR

    Ahh – there it is. I challenge your *interpretation* of Scripture and hold you accountable for the impact of you communicating your interpretation and you take that and now conclude that I “hate” the Bible. That’s not good debate, Will – that’s someone who can’t face the consequences of his choices.

    As for “heaping” anything on you? You’ve done that yourself, you’re the one with blood on your hands. I’m just telling you about it since I doubt you’d ever get 20 miles of someone who is gay and who is honest about the impact you have on him or her. People like you insulate themselves so you don’t have to deal with the reality of the damage you do in the name of Jesus. God have mercy on you.

  • DR

    LOL. You’re not “offended”? You’ve done nothing but whine and complain about how you’ve been treated.

  • Ralph the Wonder Llama

    After all (as I pointed out in the other thread), the two “greatest” commandments originate in the same Old Testament that, according to you, makes God look more like Thor.

  • DR

    Wow. I’m so sad to hear that Tony holds that position. Damn it, and I’ve been supporting that ministry financially too. No more. Duly noted.

  • Ralph the Wonder Llama

    Wow, I guess “love your neighbor” has its limits.

  • I don’t have a dualistic worldview, Ralph. It’s not so simple as either or, all or nothing for me. I’m not stuck in the developmental phase of universality: if one thing is off then the whole thing is shot.

    I’m not particularly interested in the passive aggressive stick you keep poking me with. If you would like to have a friendly conversation, I would be happy to do that.

  • Mindy

    Ralph, the Greatest Commandment comes from the New Testament, because it was spoken by Jesus.

    It is clear. It is the only thing that makes sense in this life. I’m a firm believer in using this life to leave the place a little better than you found it – by loving others, by being kind, compassionate and empathetic. And I don’t identify as a Christian, so I couldn’t care less about the Old Testament, actually. I don’t believe that God commanded any of that evil, I believe those are stories written by men with agendas. So what it says doesn’t matter. I do believe in God, and I do believe that whether or not Jesus was actually his son, he was an amazing teacher and prophet who raised compassion to holy state of mind. And many, many self-identified Christians have been getting it wrong ever since.

    But in answer to your question, yes – I believe it all melts away in the face of loving.

  • Ralph the Wonder Llama


    Thanks for answering.

    Jesus was quoting the Old Testament. The greatest commandment comes directly from Deuteronomy 6:5 and the second greatest commandment comes directly from Leviticus 19:18.

    If the Old Testament is full of shit, then so was Jesus.

    I don’t take instruction on Christianity from people who aren’t Christians. If you don’t believe Jesus’ claim to be the son of God, I don’t know why you would bother to believe anything else he says.

  • So only Divinely incarnated persons are worth listening to? They are the only keepers of wisdom?

  • Ralph the Wonder Llama

    If I want to learn to fly a plane, I’ll go to a pilot for instruction. If I want to learn about practical applications of Christian thought, I’ll go to a Christian for instruction.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “divinely incarnated persons” … isn’t Jesus the only divinely incarnated person, according to Christian theology?

    If Mindy’s not identifying as a Christian, then she’s free to dismiss whatever parts of Christianity she finds inconvenient. That’s nice for her, but it’s not what I’m interested in. I’d rather talk to people who are trying to embrace Christianity despite whatever inconveniences it might present.

  • Mindy

    Fine, Ralphie-boy, I’ll live you to find your answers from a more reliable source. But just because I don’t know if Jesus was divine doesn’t mean I don’t believe he was a teacher and prophet and had very valuable things to say. You are . . . not Christian, I take it? I can’t tell if you really want to understand this, or if you are trying to pick apart Christianity. Your “attitude” isn’t particularly pleasant, but . . . oh well.

  • Ralph the Wonder Llama

    ME trying to pick apart Christianity? You’re doing a pretty good job of that all on your own. You certainly don’t need my help. Saying that Jesus was a teacher and a prophet, but not divine … that’s more picking apart of Christianity than I’ve ever done in my life.

  • Ralph the Wonder Llama

    Right on… Jesus never said anything that could have gotten anyone killed. 🙂

  • Ralph the Wonder Llama

    Maybe Gray Goose doesn’t want him because he prefers Absolut? 🙂

  • Mindy

    Not picking anything apart, simply clarifying my own personal, spiritual beliefs. Just because I don’t hold to someone else’s beliefs doesn’t mean that I don’t respect them. I’m not Jewish or Hindu or Muslim, either, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t respect their beliefs as well. Until a belief system hurts people – that’s when I will “pick it apart.” For now, however, I do believe I’ve run out of energy to expend on the likes of you.

  • Ralph the Wonder Llama

    Put your feet up and listen to some Skinny Puppy. Works for me.

    The divinity of Christ is an essential part of Christianity. Remove it and you have nothing left that you couldn’t get from a half-dozen other religions, some of which even look good on a resume.

    When the rich young ruler came to Jesus and called him a “good teacher,” Jesus replied, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Mk. 10:18) Jesus did not intend that we should profess to embrace his teachings without also embracing his divinity. To do so is to pick Christianity apart.

  • Jeannie

    Sometimes the most loving thing a person can do is tell them to stop being a jerk and that you don’t like their behaviour.

  • Siri Erickson


    This is so refreshing! I would like to come to a festival such as you describe. Why don’t you plan one? I would be happy to help. I bet a lot of your readers would.



  • Thank you, Siri. Coming from you this means a lot. (Maybe we WILL put together a little something! Why not?)

  • cat rennolds

    many more reasons why than why not…..

  • DR

    That you confuse “loving one’s neighbor” with an insistence that you are to be liked and respected as you express beliefs that hurt children is entirely your issue as well as a complete perversion of the Gospel.

  • I’d go too – and I’m not even Christian!

  • I remember when the 1st WG festival was trending on FB. Once it became clear some from the LGBT community were planning on attending (probably those pesky Episcopalians) there was a bit of a bru-ha-ha. The progressive “leaders” are lagging behind us.

    I’m listening to The Grand Illusion album now.

  • Jerry

    I think such a festival would be amazing!!

  • Paula

    I’m puzzled. I’ve never been to Goose, but my friends who are there now, and have been before, have also spent countless hours in meetings and in gatherings — where conversations about LGBT inclusion in the church and larger culture was the sole purpose of those gatherings. The Indigo Girls are there now, for goodness sake. How do we conclude that LGBT issues will be excluded from conversations?

    Hell? Salvation? I’ll admit, a lot of mainline people were done with hell — decades ago. Maybe they need to back up and rehash, for those who weren’t paying attention. Some people read C.S. Lewis’ Great Divorce in the 1970’s and decided that God was always and forever about salvation. Others read Hick or Rahner — the point is, I doubt the topic is being neglected because people are too afraid. They just forget that some people are obsessed, and others have simply moved on.

    I also don’t understand how any of us get to name “the 3 most important issues.” Its not that I don’t agree those are important — but I’m kinda worried about the planet too. The global warming thing. And I’m curious about people of other faiths — not about their salvation, but about the more interesting question of what they might or might not have to teach me. I also had a conversation with a black friend of mine yesterday — the Trayvon verdict, the Oprah thing — she’s feeling very angry right now. Do you think we’re done talking about race?

    I’m sorry you’re not at WG John. I think you would have had interesting things to say, maybe pointed out some stuff. But I don’t understand why you’re dissing a conference where there might be other interesting people, and other interesting ideas. I just don’t understand. I also don’t care whether people are wearing — skinny jeans or clown pants — I’d just like to see Christians owe up to the fact that God might be busy doing other things with other people — and not just talking to us.

    But. . . if somebody stole your ideas, pasted them on a webpage and didn’t give you credit — I hope you get an apology and a note of credit. That’s just wrong.

  • This post is nearly two years old, Paula. It was just … what happened then. I honestly have no thoughts whatsoever about WG. I’m sure it’s a perfectly fine event.

  • Paula

    So now I’m really confused. You posted this as an explanation for why you are not there. Or that’s what I thought. Sorry.

  • Kimberly

    What Paula said. Exactly.

    I’m on my way home from the Wild Goose Festival 2013. In my experience it was a “gathering, the entire purpose of which is to get down in the mud, and really wrestle around with the issues that are currently tearing Christianity apart. A place where thoughtful, intelligent people come together…”

    Quite literally and figuratively – In. The. Mud. Discussing racism and justice. Nonviolence, peace and forgiveness. Sexuality, spirituality and embodiment. Consumerism and permaculture. And those are just the sessions I attended.

    I appreciate and respect what you offer John. I realize your reason for not going was written almost two years ago, however it was on your Facebook page that I noticed it last night explaining why you weren’t there this weekend. I invite you to listen to the stories of people who were there this weekend. In my experience, it wasn’t the festival you described.

    On a side note, plan a festival in San Diego and I’m there. Much easier for me to get to SD versus North Carolina. But like Paula said, there are more than “three main issues” to address and act on.