From Gareth Higgins, Wild Goose Festival Executive Director:
Things are changing. And the Wild Goose Festival is part of the change.
I mean, it’s obvious, it’s exciting, and it’s anyone’s guess what’s going to happen. Whether it’s the Arab Spring, the #Occupy movement, or any one of a thousand local grass roots endeavors, people are rising up to give voice to their desire to see wrongs righted, and a society transformed. Everyone wants change. Everyone wants things to be better. This is a natural human desire, but today it’s emerging at a time that feels like crisis for many. There are wars abroad, economic challenges at home, and a divided religious culture that encourages us – sometimes even tries to force us – to keep our distance from each other. There is loss lamented in the recent tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks; for many, there is sorrow just beneath the surface. Scratch a little bit, and we all cry. Ask a little deeper, and the answers eventually run out of steam. Sometimes all that’s left is doubts and loves.
And this is a magnificent thing; because when all we have is doubts and loves, then maybe we’re ready to be more open to miracles; more more human than machine.
We have doubts and loves; we have questions, and we have hearts. And we want to make something of our lives. We care about the treatment of marginalized people – people attacked and dehumanized because of the color of our skin, the place we live or work, or the way we think, or whom we love; and sometimes we care because there are parts of ourselves that we keep in the shadows: our trauma, our fear, our sense of being different. We want to believe that good religion provides a path to meaning, yet we may feel a little embarrassed to be found in the Christian section of the bookstore. We are compelled by the urge to create: poems or plays or songs or meals or communities or incredible works of justice; and we sense there is something or someone bigger participating with us in every creative act. We know that in a God-breathed universe, there can be no such thing as a sacred-secular divide. We reject the divisiveness and dehumanization of bad religion, at least partly because it has rejected us; and want to embrace the way of Jesus as path to redeeming, uniting, and humanizing everything on earth. Things are changing, and we know it.
Some of us got together this past summer in North Carolina, to collectively give birth to the Wild Goose Festival, a four day gathering at the intersection of justice, spirituality and art. We found ourselves doing something like a Woodstock or Burning Man for Christians (and people who are spiritual but not religious). We took further inspiration from the Greenbelt festival in the UK – from where the One campaign, the Jubilee 2000 movement to end Third World debt, and the Fair Trade movement all became mainstreamed within UK religious culture. Wild Goose seeks to be a significant, culture-shaping national annual gathering that will work to educate and inspire a generation of Christians alienated by the Religious Right, engaged in social justice and peacemaking, recipients of and participants in creative arts, committed to dialogue across faith and political boundaries, ethnically diverse, and both aware of the shadow side of religion and committed to embodying its best visions. People who don’t believe there is any such thing as a sacred-secular divide. People who want to change themselves, and concurrently, change the world.
1700 of these folk showed up to a farm near Pittsboro, NC, this past summer. Michelle Shocked rocked the house, Dr Vincent Harding spoke elder wisdom about the civil rights movement, Frank Schaeffer, the son of the philosophical founder of the Religious Right talked about what his dad (and he himself) got wrong, Phyllis Tickle helped us imagine just how significant this cultural moment could be, T-Bone Burnett talked about how artists shape the story we tell ourselves, and are therefore more powerful than politicians, a rabbi and an imam shared their hopes for inter-faith relationships, there were workshops on militarism and racism and homophobia and a session where a couple hundred people beautifully bellowed out old hymns in the beer tent. And there was much more. It was an astonishing experience. We’d love you to be part of the next one.
The next Wild Goose Festival takes place from the 21st-24th June 2012; we’re planning for at least 3500 people to come this time. We hope to host a gathering of people of all ages, from many diverse backgrounds; and in an election year we want to make a positive impact together on the panorama of what it means to live here and now, with callings and gifts, challenges and fears, doubts and loves.
You can look on WildGooseFestival.org to get a sense of what happened this year. There you can find out more about how to be a part of the festival, how you get tickets or volunteer, how to support us in other ways. Please do. We’re in this together. We believe that the Wild Goose Festival is both a sign of hope, and could make an extremely important contribution to addressing the current crises in the US, and maybe elsewhere too. The answer to so much of our problems lies in developing common good solutions; the crucible that is created at Wild Goose can light fires that inspire and clarify just what it means to be human, how to love, and how to bring peace. We’d love to have you with us.
PS: WILD GOOSE 2012 PASSES AVAILABLE NOW: $99
Last year our advance ticket rate was $99. On site people paid $159. This year our advance ticket rate will still be $99, and on site people will still pay $159. So I guess you could say that some things haven’t changed. Tickets are now for sale for $99 at our site here. This special advance pass rate will be available for one week only. Next Tuesday, the 8th November the price will rise to $119; and on the 1st January 2012 it will be $139. We have rates for families and groups too: the advance rate from 1st – 8th November for one adult and two children traveling together is $199; for two adults and two children is $269 ($249 and $329 from 8th November til 31st December; $299 and $399 from 1st January). Additional children’s tickets are $49 until 8th November, $69 and 31st December, and $89 from 1st January. Purchase your earlybird tickets now on Eventbrite.