New Auburn, Wisconsin: Where the Rubber Meets the Road

I always take the advice of Carla Barnhill.  She’s not only a nationally recognized advice guru, she’s also my person advice guru.

A while back, she recommended that I read something by Michael Perry.  She said that parts of my writing — particularly parts of The New Christians — reminded her of Perry’s writing.  Looking back, that is a humbling compliment.

I picked up Perry’s book, Population: 485 – Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time last week, and I tore through it in three days.  He’s a writer of great talent, bringing the mundane and everyday into high relief.  The books is alternatively funny and heart-rending.  And it is unapologetically nostalgic.

Perry writes of his hometown, New Auburn, Wisconsin, to which he has moved back in his early 30s.  He’s joined the volunteer fire department, and he goes on all sorts of calls, ranging from tragic (which begins and ends the book) to the silly to the touching.  But really, it’s a book about America.

One passage in particular struck me, because it resonated with my own vocation as a practical theologian:

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Jim Wallis Appearance Stirs Wisconsin Controversy

Jim Wallis

Here’s some breaking news from the Sheybogan Press.  It seems that Q90-FM, a Christian music station in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, has pulled its sponsorship from Lifefest, a Christian music festival in the area.  Why?  Because Jim Wallis is one of the speakers at the event.

The Q90 board explains,

In their statement, the Q90 board of directors, leadership and staff said they became concerned with the beliefs and teachings of Wallis. Specifically, they said they believe the social justice message and agenda Wallis promotes is “a seed of secular humanism, seeking an unholy alliance between the church and government.”

Damn that Wallis, sowing seeds of justice!  (So, I guess this means that Q90-FM won’t sponsor the Wild Goose Festival next year?)

A local pastor puts it more pointedly,

“It’s easy to say we don’t have to agree with his politics or his theology, except that by promoting him as a speaker, that’s exactly what we’re doing,” [Pastor Kathi] Rose said. “We’re giving him credibility in all other areas of his politics and his theology, which in many ways is very, very antithetical to the gospel of Jesus Christ in the essentials.”

Hasn’t anyone told Pastor Kathi that Kathi’s aren’t allowed to be pastors?!?  Ken Silva, you’d better call this Pastrix out on your blog immediately!

(Many thanks to my aunt and uncle, fully sane, reasonable, and loving people who live near Sheboygan, for sending me the article.)