The Wild Goose Festival: The Talks

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: [Read more…]

The Origins of the Wild Goose Festival

Today will see the birth of a gathering that has been gestating for many years.  The Wild Goose Festival in Shakori Hills, NC begins at 6pm EDT tonight, and I’ll be in the crowd, cheering on those who midwifed it, among them Mike King and Gareth Higgins.  In Mike’s post yesterday, he wrote, “Seven years in the making,” and he’s right.

In 2005, the group who had inaugurated and planned the Emergent/YS Conventions in 2003, 2004, and 2005 decided to bring that gathering to an end.  It had run in connection with the National Pastors Convention. Here’s the backstory: at the 2005 Emergent/YS Convention in Nashville, Doug Pagitt and I had breakfast with Lyn Cryderman of Zondervan.  He told us that Zondervan wasn’t interested in publishing the Emergent/YS line of books anymore.  Our response was basically this: if you don’t want to publish our books, why do you want to produce our event? (Zondervan owned the National Pastors Convention — they have since shut it down and sold the rights to YouthWorks.)

The following fall, a posse of us gathered in New Mexico at Glorieta Conference Center; this was an annual event, organic in nature, and meant to counterbalance the more corporate feel of the convention.  Around that time, Doug Pagitt convened a meeting that would begin what comes to fruition today:

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Adding Nuance to the Sojourners Kerfuffle

Some of my friends have weighed in the on the Sojo-BelieveOutLoud controversy, as have some commenters on yesterday’s postNadia Bolz-Weber comes out of blog-hibernation to write,

Are the poor more important than GLBTQ folks?  Is it ok to throw the rights of one group under the bus so that another group’s rights might be upheld? I wish there were really clear back and white answers here but the fact is that we live in a much more ambiguous world than that.  As a Lutheran I confess to living in the tension of being simultaneously sinner and saint and living in a world filed with the paradox of such.

Brian McLaren, writes as an LGBTQ Ally and a former board chair of Sojo.  Sojo is, he writes, a coalition-building organization, and as such it has to walk a tightrope:

If I were to boil down messy contemporary reality to an equation, here’s what it would be:

– You can’t lead a coalition of progressive Christians without being an outspoken leader on LGBTQ issues.
– You can’t lead a coalition that includes mainstream Evangelical and conservative Catholic Christians if you are an outspoken leader on LGBTQ issues.

That leaves Sojo in a precarious position, and it seems to leave Jim Wallis with a choice to make: Does Sojo want to build a mainline-progressive coalition or an evangelical coalition.  I don’t think he can do both.  Sadly, that’s the reality of the church in America these days.

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What Jim Wallis Might Be Missing

So, it seems that Jim Wallis* has gotten into a bit of a kerfuffle for rejecting a magazine ad from Believe Out Loud, a pan-denominational campaign to increase the number of congregations that are welcoming** to LGBT folks.  The best rundown of the controversy with all the important links can be found at Religion Dispatches.

As RD posted and others have made clear, Wallis has avoided addressing LGBT issues for years.  And that’s because Wallis knows, as he states in his apologia, that LGBT issues in the church constitute a “wedge issue.”

But more to the point, affirmation of gays in any way in the church in America these days is a shibboleth, as I have written previously.  That is, if you affirm that homosexual persons who are in any way sexually active can have a role of leadership in the church or should be afforded to right to marry and awarded all of the privileges accorded thereto, then you are, de facto, kicked out of evangelicalism.  Suddenly, 60% of the Christian market in America is, for all intents and purposes, closed to you.  No more fundraising therein, and no more book sales thereto.

Jim Wallis knows this.  Jay Bakker and I and other straight allies of GLBT persons know this first-hand.  Rich Cizik knows this.  And any number of other Christian leaders on the scene today have watched the examples of those of us who publicly ally ourselves with GLBT issues in the church, and it has scared them off from publicly stating what they privately believe, which is that gays should be included in the church.

To those who pastor churches, I understand your hesitation to speak publicly in affirmation of gay ordination and gay marriage.  You have congregations to pastor, and you may feel that your commitment to the unity of the flock trumps your personal convictions on a particular and controversial matter.  But to Jim Wallis, I have this to say:

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