This is another in a series of reports on Wild Goose, which happened last weekend.
In general, I thought that the quality of talks at the Goose was incredibly high. Like, as high as the old Emergent/YS Conventions and Christianity21, which to this point have been the events of our tribe that have had the best quality and quantity of talks and discussions.
I was a speaker host, so I spent much of Friday and Saturday running around, introducing speakers, and hearing bits and pieces of talks. I missed some that I really wanted to hear. But I caught some that I hadn’t expected to. Here’s what I saw and heard in talks:
Nadia Bolz-Weber led a discussion about her church and ministry in the Geo Dome. It was an overflow crowd on the first day. I caught Nadia answering a couple questions about authority. Nadia’s thesis is basically that, because she has submitted herself to a denominational authority, she doesn’t get to do whatever she wants. In fact, she doesn’t get to do the same kinds of things that her parishioners do. She has, she argued, voluntarily given up some of her freedoms to take on the ordained shepherding role in HFASS. (Nadia and I disagree on this very point, but I do have great respect for her and her position on this — and I do admire her for living out to the full what many denominationalists only pay lip service to.)
I introduced Phyllis Tickle by saying, “Phyllis and I agree on about 98% of stuff; but on the 2%, we disagree vehemently.” She then gave me a big kiss on the lips and went on to give a talk about what she’s seeing in Emergence Christianity — she’s currently working on a book, Emergence Christianity: An Interim Report.
Frank Schaeffer, whom I have often read but never met, gave an uproarious talk based on his new book, Sex, Mom, and God: How the Bible’s Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics–and How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway (Frank generously signed a copy for me, so watch this space for a forthcoming review). Frank is a gifted writer, to be sure, but I was truly impressed at what a good speaker he is. He’s hilarious, but he can also deliver a political or theological zinger with gusto. Frank has posted about his experience at the Goose:
We understood each other, understood why it was a big deal that some of us were gay, open and happy in spite of everything, understood why some of us still wanted to follow Jesus, even though the world we came from — far right, hate-and-fear-driven wacko religion — had done its best to turn Jesus into Attila the Hun and/or Michele Bachmann.
Jay Bakker delivered a courageous talk in which he confronted the kerfuffle at Sojourners a couple months ago. It was a delicate situation, since Jim Wallis was at the Goose, and Jim’s wife, Joy, is on the board. I thought that Jay handled it well and respectfully of Sojo and Jim while nevertheless calling them to speak up on behalf of GLBT persons as a matter of justice.
Peter Rollins spoke for the first time on the christology that he’s developing. I only caught the very tail end of his talk, so I hope to talk to him privately about it in the next few days. I did catch Pete and Reverend Vince on Sunday morning, in which they announced an upcoming tour of de-evangelism. I find Pete’s message getting clearer all the time — not less complicated, but more understandable. I hope he continues to gain traction.
I caught bits and pieces of other talks by Brian McLaren, Jim Wallis, Don Shriver, David Dark, Elissa Elliot, and Kristina Keefe-Perry. I wish I could have heard more, but what I heard was glorious.