The Wild Goose Festival: The Talks

The Wild Goose Festival: The Talks June 28, 2011

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 in the GeoDome (photo by Courtney Perry)

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.

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  • KB

    We some talks recorded? If so, where and when will they be available? Lots of things I want to get back to and mull over.

  • There was also a great panel discussion on sex and spirituality that I think you were a part of too, right, Tony? 😉

  • Tony,
    do you know if the talks were recorded and if so if there are any plans to release the audio/video? Sitting there listening to people like Frank and Bart Campolo I couldn’t help but immediately think how helpful it would be to pass their wisdom on to a broader audience than those of us camping with the ticks…

    • No, Bo, they weren’t. This is a you’ve-got-to-be-there event, as you know. Let’s hope that the audience of this message grows…

      • I suppose that means I better start recruiting a larger group to head down to North Carolina next year!

  • Thanks for saying “I find Pete’s message getting clearer all the time — not less complicated, but more understandable.” I loved listening to Peter, but I feel like I only got about every 3rd word. If it’s complicated for a PhD, then I don’t feel like such a dumb ass anymore. I’m definitely looking forward to his new book on the subject.

    • Chris Simes

      Pete Rollins’ talk on Saturday completely blew my mind! He is so energetic, it’s like sparks are flying off of him, and he is rattling off these very profound ideas like a machine gun. It was somewhere between a talk and a roller-coaster ride! I can’t wait for the book to come out, because it was way too much to digest in one sitting. But the amount I was able to capture was very resonant. Besides that, I could listen to that Irish brogue all day. He was fascinating…

  • Tony, I greatly enjoyed hearing you speak at the Wild Goose. And I actually found your article here from a tweet describing the Goose: “wicked, the teachings are demonic, and the people hate the one true God of the Bible.” Interesting…. I do not think @pastorboy can generalize at all about the great quality of talks, as you mention here.

    I wrote a blog on my overall takeaways regarding, mainly, the issues of gender and equality:

  • Thanks fro the update, Tony. Nice to have a “reporter” on the ground! What do you imagine the impact of WGF will be?

  • Beth Walters

    Tony, didn’t Phyllis Tickle also add that, in the 2% where you disagree, you were, um, wrong?!!

    • Yes, Beth, but she was wrong about that. 🙂

  • I was fortunate enough to attend WGF for the entire four days. I particularly enjoyed the discussion you facilitated on “Why Pray?” as that is something I have struggled with as well. Although I am not a theologian, I have also come down on the same side as you. It was amazing to be in a place where it was safe to have this kind of discussion.

    • Post on that on Thursday, Cherie. Thanks for being a part of that.

  • this festival sounded so great, but there was pretty much no chance i could get there. Hold it in the Pacific Northwest next time?

  • Hi Tony,

    I got to go to WGF on Saturday (I’m 7 months pregnant and in no shape to camp out). I got to hear Brian McClaren share stories about the births of his books. He also spoke a little bit about hell and answered a great question about how we go about teaching this stuff to our children (brilliant! and he mentioned a conference in the works about this topic – google Children, Youth and a New Kind of Christianity). I also got to listen to Pete Rollins speak (intense! and a lot to digest – if you couldn’t be there, he said he’s coming out with a book on it in September).

    I’m glad you mentioned the speakers you had a chance to listen to. I wish I had caught them. I caught Richard Rohr, and Tim Tyson, and Shane Claiborne and they were all really interesting, but I started to wonder why their weren’t more women speakers. Perhaps it had more to do with my timing.

    I taped bits and pieces of the day on my phone. Am I allowed to share them on my blog?

    Thanks Tony!

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