The Rarest Goose of All

Just serving notice here that I’ll be looking for the most rare of geese at the Wild Goose Festival this weekend:

A Conservative.

If you’re at Wild Goose, and you’re a conservative, please come and find me.  I’ll buy you a beer — er, um, a fruit juice.

(This post is not entirely tongue-in-cheek.  I truly hope that there will be conservative Christians at Wild Goose, to share fellowship with, learn from, and challenge those of us who are progressive/liberal.  I go to conservative Christian events often — for example, I’ll be at the National Youth Workers Convention in Atlanta in November.  And, while I find liberals are often open to joining more conservative Christians at events, I rarely find the converse.  So, if you’re conservative and you’re on the fence about attending Wild Goose, please join us.  Doug Pagitt and I will welcome you with open arms to the Patheos RV for our nightly Happy Hour.)

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  • Jim W

    Why would a conservative do that? Every time I’ve ever seen any transaction between you and a conservative, you mock, demean, poke fun and are generally condescending.
    Pagitt can’t or won’t answer a straight question with a coherent answer, so why would a conservative submit to that kind of abuse?
    You drove Darius away because you and your cronies didn’t like what he said.
    So, yeah, I’m sure lots of conservatives will jump on your invitation.

    • Sorry, Jim. I’ve been in settings filled with “conservatives” where Tony, Doug and others have been more than generous. Believe it or not, they and many of their friends (including me) are much more interested in listening than expectorating when in a face-to-face situation.

  • Jim,

    I was conservative one time and he was nice to me then. Although, I think I still probably picked up the bill.

  • Erwin

    I’d like to take your offer of free beer if you also offer me a flight from L.A. to Shakori Hills and back.

  • Devin

    I’m coming late on Thursday night, I’m a conservative Calvinist, and I drink beer (only good beer though…) I am actually volunteering at the festival. My good friend Tom is also, he’s a student at RTS and reads Warfield and Vos like little kids read comic books. I did a write up about my reasoning for working at the festival, here is a link:

    Can’t wait to see you there! I’ve mostly heard interviews with you so I don’t know a lot of the big points you are pushing for American religious life, we should get along well.

  • Tripp

    Well Tony it all depends on what tribe you normally roll with. Comparatively you are my conservative friend!

    • Charles

      Amen, Tripp, amen.

  • Kenton

    Had it been closer or had I found some local friends who had wanted to go, I might have gone. The speaker line up looks awesome. But I have a feeling that getting all of you together well probably escalate the anti-conservative rhetoric. That’s probably the main reason I’m not going. If I’d have known that I would have been especially welcome it might have made a difference. As it is, though, the fam leaves for vacation on Saturday. Still, I’m looking forward to reports about WGF.

    And not to call you out on some form of progressive hypocrisy, but what the hell is an RV doing at this thing? Isn’t that the most obvious symbol of destructive American environmental hubris around?

  • Jenny

    Totally will take you up on that offer! Excited to be a part of the next couple days!

  • Devin Murphy ( will be the resident Calvinist at Wild Goose, so look for him and invite him to partake of a brewsky at the Patheos RV. I’m pretty sure he’ll take you up on that offer, Tony!

  • Thanks for this post – and for seeking the dignity in difference. At the same time, these titles/categories are relative. You would be conservative to me. But you are a thoughtful conservative. You’re a “Peggy Noonan” instead of a “Sarah Palin.” And, yes, that’s a good thing!

  • matthewquigley

    “Git yur gun, decoys and dogs. Durham is bout ta have thee greatest influx of wild geese in our lifetime un I heardt thur liberals!” #WGF11

  • Tripp,
    i needed the bit of the belly laugh with that statement! i’m also wondering what category i’d be placed in.
    Wish i could be at WGF- but mulah is down this season- airefare is ridiculous.

  • Getting Progressively Goosed By The Rarest Gooser of All Geese in the Progressive Gaggle … (the goose who says he wants to listen) …

    So you want to listen?

    The irony of goosing up to festival in the first chic-goose-camp to hatch faux-wild (faux because like minded) geese in a gaggle of borderline intellectual suburbia – and expecting conservatives to come to you?

    If your fatter, hifalutin intellectualized white-polite theology, phatter and superior as it is to too-thin Pentecostal or too-thin conservative ignorance (ignorance here is a compliment to them – thank God for simple-thin bounded rationality and thin heuristics), is really in wont of conversation from conservatives or Pentecostals, then you’d cancel goosing with your progressive gaggle of hatchling chic-geese. And you’d go to them. You’d go out to gaggle with the conservative and Pentecostal geese. Where they work and live. And let them goose you a little more. Details below.

    You already got goosed. And aren’t stopping to listen. Or let it sink in. For starters, coming down off the high and elevated platform (the visual tells a lot) where you perched aloft tickle-goosing Tickle, stepping down a little to take the black lady out to lunch might have cost you the pain of LISTENING, since the black woman already goosed you once And deservedly. If you really wanted to listen to conservatives or Pentecostals beyond her first sample of a goosing-you-voice, rather than honk a honk of defensive self rationalization (pretending you want to listen), then you could cancel your next elevated platform flight of progressive wild-goosing with your gaggle of friends. Find that black woman. Take her out to lunch. And LISTEN.

    If you really want to listen. Since you are more skilled than she, surely you can find a way to listen.

    If you are a quick learner, then one dose of further listening to that black woman might do – to goose you out of your borderline racism. Or elitism. Or intellectual suburbia. Borderland or wasteland, get down on your knees and thank God that she railed her little honking trifle at you. Or just forget that black woman. It’s easier that way. She’s an anecdotal aberration! She’s just mean-spirited. Not representative of any statistical mean. Move beyond that lone black lady. Isolate her and forget her. Forget her mean-spirited, and non-mean (statistical) honking.


    I’d lay my life that hard-data would show you (and that you probably still wouldn’t care) that the aggregate (i.e. “gaggle”) statistical behavior of Pentecostals/charismatics (Catholic charismatics, Protestant Pentecostals, and Pentecostal/charismatic independents and “nones” of a Quaker or free church type) and traditional conservatives would show you (via hard data – we’re beyond the black lady now) that most of these conservatives and Pentecostals would hear you, then yawn, after you put them to sleep in boredom with your higher theological honking, and they would simply turn away in “conservative” silence and say nothing (conservative here means conserving their energies – your high flying fat goose theology is too expensive for them to waste much time on – see below), and, walking away from your higher-intellectualized-wild-goose-suburbia and your borderline coffee klatch hatchlings, these conservatives and Pentecostals would walk away in silence, to leave you alone to humor your borderline gaggle of mutually theologically goosing geese. The black woman cared to respond. You need to get down from your high flying fat and progressive platform as one of the many imaginary leaders of the progressive “V” of the progressive gaggle of progressive geese in progressive flight, and, get down lower on your knees and thank this black woman for caring enough to honk at you from down below.

    Because this lone honking black lady might really represent a statistical mean of many other geese in the conservative and Pentecostal gaggles, who would just walk away from you – progressively bored – finally bored to death. Hey, go beyond borderline racism in your honking about this black lady, and better, kill this black lady by calling her a mere black swan, a mere black swan in social-theological statistics. An aberration. Too emotional. Just mean spirited. Not a statistical mean. Safe to ignore.

    Or is this comment about the black lady as a black swan (of statistics) too “thin” a comment for you?

    Especially after your first order lie that you want to listen.

    Forget the lady. I’m talking data here. If you think I’m just honking mad about the hard data, then does the name Kenda Creasy Dean ring a bell? – or, is it just enough for you to name her name among your gaggle of friends, or (since you want to listen – so you say), did you really listen to the gaggle of aggregate data (the Lilly Foundation data in her book) showing that non-Pentecostal youth are more like non-Pentecostal adults than anyone knew, with both adults and youth flying into new gaggles, gaggles of those who don’t really give a damn about wars, yours or anyone else’s, over high theological identifications? If you don’t listen to the lone honking black woman (or just kill her honking by calling her a mere black swan of statistical aberration), then do you listen to the hard honking data of your high academic friends? This is another form of LISTENING (since the black lady is below you), and it’s called listening to the aggregate gaggle of hard data across the whole board, the hard data about the many other (non-Pentecostal) geese in flight, the flight in exodus away from churches and festivals. It should be a comfort that you have a wild goose gaggle of mutually borderline progressive friends. Racist? Elitist? No! Your theology represents the whole world! Pentecostal and theological “thin” idiots are just too dumb to get it! See more below on your progressive friends.

    Flying way over your head are the gaggles of multivariate data representing millions of millions of black-lady Pentecostals and charismatics in their growth rates – globally – black, brown, yellow, white, all growing, and growing against other data that is honking at you, honking about how so many other white intellectualized borderline gaggles are dying.

    Forget the black lady. Hear the hard honking other data.

    I doubt that a one-time goosing session with the black lady as your black statistical swan, or even a sustained listening to gaggles of hard data from your high academic friends, will goose you out of your comfortable and fat statistical borderline. Yes, statistical. Yes, borderline. Yes, your borderline.

    Maybe I’m wrong. I pray so. God, make it so.

    I think you need a deeper goose.

    Because borderline isn’t your theology.

    Borderline is where you live.

    Too smart to know it. Too smart to listen.

    You need a deeper goose from beyond your cool borderline life with sherry sipping high theological and academic friends. A good deep goose of listening to those who won’t be at your festival. Who can’t. Those conservatives and Pentecostals who won’t be at your festival to “talk” (how polite) to you at your request will be the thousands upon thousands of ethnic migrant workers (oops, we’re getting racial/racist again!), the thin campesinos crawling between Minnesota and California’s central valley (and the billions in poverty beyond them), all those who can’t attend your polite festival and drink your cool beer because they’re too damned (damned is literal here) busy on migratory goose flights to pick the produce to fill your gaggle’s green tables at your festival.

    If you really want to know and LISTEN to how and why their “thin” theology is really below you (that is, learn why you are arrogant and ignorant), then take a honking semester off and go out on the migratory goose flights, to work on the migratory goose trails, and have your high flying wings cliipped, to come down to earth by picking some stinking grapes, lettuce, or northern tobacco, on your knees in back breaking labor – and LIVE with these simple and theologically “thin” migrants. Live with them and listen to their thin-honking theology, born in fields of minimum wage-sweat to feed your better honking theology and festivities. Move from your comfortable “borderline” chic social consciousness and become social by learning in sweat and backbreaking labor – and LISTENING – to learn why two or three simple “thin” feelings, and why two or three simple “thin” ideas, and why two or three thin theological ideas (which are incongruent and incoherent at that), and why two or three imaginary “thin” smiles in “thin” and fleeting midnight dreams of the Virgin of Guadalupe blessing brown charismatic Catholics, and learn of the low and thin theology of thin corn tortillas moprhing into the face of Jesus in low life frying pans – learn to listen to why all these “thin” theological follies (“In Praise of Folly”) mean more LIFE to these people in their sufferings than your high flying and wild goose chasing, really, faux-wild theological honking.

    Learn why “thin” theology (or, if you like fat-fancy reasoning, then learn why bounded rationality, simple thin heuristics, why one or two simple theological feelings, and one or two incongruent and incoherent theological ideas) means more life to these people than all the polite and high fat theological produce that you will progressively cook, progressively serve, and progressively vomit at your festival.

    Damn the data.

    Damn the black lady, the black-swan honking, in her emotive honking ignorance.

    If one black lady, or a gaggle of hard data, can’t make you listen, really listen, then listen deeper down by going to work and to live with simpleton-ignorant-thin migrants. Listen again to their thin ignorant theology. Your progressive theology is really too universally virtuous and too universally representative of the whole wide world for your theology to be borderline anything, right? Your universally representative theology is just too cool to be borderline.

    And they are too thin?


    Thin like crap through a goose.

    If you really want to listen (like you say you do), and if the black lady won’t make you listen, and the hard data of your academic friends won’t make you listen, then learn to listen in backbreaking labor, learn why it’s a wee bit hard to carry the high flying goose-crapped theological library of holy Tony Jones books on their laboring poor backs, crawling from field to field, from Minnesota to California, migrating like clipped geese low to the ground – thin – in working in their fields. Or sweatshops. God forbid the south, north, east, west, or the migratory flights of poverty teach you anything about why thin Pentecostal and why thin conservative poor theology holds LIFE for these thin and poor people. Those too “thin” to honk as literately – and fatly – as you. And who are smarter in their thin-ness.

    God forbid that you learn why “thin” is the only theology to have.

    It’s not that these migrants, or that your black critics, or brown critics, or that any other of your too “thin” critics, including the fat gaggles of hard data, are all too thin.

    It’s that you are too fat.

    Your theological fatness is out of touch. Pardon me, maybe just “borderline” out of touch. Honk, honk, honkey!

    But why bother with black ladies, and why bother with black swans, and why bother with hard academic data, and why bother with thin ignorant migrant laborers, that is, when you already have a fat gaggle of fat anecdotal friends here and there to goose you into fat borderline honkey-honking goose comfort? – fat progressive anecdotal friends with fat progressive anecdotes of fat comfort, in your progressive borderline of intellectual suburbia, to list and party in your progressive-borderline-land. What better way to convince yourself that you’re not left alone in a borderline-land, what better defense against the black lady’s black swan honking, than to populate your fat “progressive” borderline-land with all your other fat, and progressively fat, anecdotal honking friends? And many of them? Throw a party. Have a festival. There must be a few poster-child minorities of color and poverty at this cool festival, eh? If not, no worries, because the anecdotes of anecdotal friends have always been the best way to prove hard data wrong. How better to ignore the hard honking data about the impoverishment and poverty of high theology? — how better to neglect, ignore, and turn a deaf ear to the hard-crawling, backbreaking, migratory life of the theologically “thin” – poor – simpletons? Just pretend that they are not at your party. Because they are not. Maybe poor and ignorant conservatives and Pentecostals from all over the nation will stop their work-a-day low life because they feel just how badly you want to listen to them. And they will come to you! Since you really want to listen. And since you generously asked them to come – to you.

    Don’t go out of your way to enter their world.

    But, well, only a billion or more ignorant poor people, and several million poor Pentecostals and poor conservatives are too thin, and too poor in real life, to attend your festival. Too thin in their theological ignorance to appreciate your fat and fatly nuanced higher theology. Have a wild goose of an anecdotal festival with friends. Anecdotal comfort against hard data. Anecdotal comfort against thin, and hard-as-hell, life. Prove you are right. Throw a party. With wild goosing friends. Progressively!

    Borderline never had so much fun.

    How badly do you want to listen? – are you listening? – yet?

    Do you want to listen? – or just be perceived by your friends as wanting to listen? – or do you just want to deceive yourself into believing that you want to listen? – how far away from your fat borderline do you want to progress in your progressiveness – to listen?

    How badly do you want to listen? How far are you willing to go out of yourself to listen?


    Don’t fake it.

    You will be found out. By the thin ones. On the thin side.

    Far away from your safe, fat borderline.

    The black lady is the exception to the rule that most poor conservatives and poor Pentecostals will stay politely silent, and will walk away from you, and will walk away from your fat borderline. They, like she, are too theologically thin. Too uneducated. Too out of touch. Too poor to come to you and to talk to your educated fatness. You might have to go out of your way to listen to them.

    You may not get another chance in your lifetime to listen to an outspoken voice like that black lady’s.

    Racist? Elitist? What’s left?

    Kill the few voices who do honk at you. And have a happy, deaf party.

    Maybe it’s better that you do not listen? – that you never learn what the silent and walk-away gaggle of poor Pentecostal and poor conservative silence is really telling you? – as they walk away in silence to go to “thin” places where you’re too fat go?

    Pardon me for speaking for the thin – poor – ones.

    Hey, drink a Moosehead on me! Relax!

    Because if you can’t hear the honk of a friend in this, Tony … go goose yourself.

    And enjoy your – fat – phat cool party.

    Thinly yours,

    (white) Jim