This is my personal blog. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the congregations or presbytery I serve.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Wildgoose 1.

            Last week Susan and I attended the first Wildgoose Festival, at Shakori Hills, NC.  This was a gathering of people formed by the gospel of Jesus Christ, who are usually identified as “emergent” or “progressive.”  We came from across the spectrum of Christian faith: from evangelical to mainline, from Roman Catholic to Pentecostal, with an emphasis on both social justice and spirituality. 
            When we heard about it, probably last fall, and saw the list of speakers, we immediately signed up.  The presenters included Brian McLaren, Richard Rohr, Jim Wallis, Shane Claiborne, Phyllis Tickle, Tony Jones, Peter Rollins, Tony Campolo, Doug Pagitt, Frank Shaeffer, Diana Butler-Bass, Jay Bakker, and many more.  The musical portion was headlined by Michelle Shocked, T. Bone Burnett, Derek Webb, and Psalters (a wild, tribal band from Philadelphia which we had seen before).  The introductory words:

What is the Wild Goose Festival?
The Wild Goose is a Celtic metaphor for the Holy Spirit. We are followers of Jesus creating a festival of justice, spirituality, music and the arts. The festival is rooted in the Christian tradition and therefore open to all regardless of belief, ethnicity,
gender, sexuality, denomination or religious affiliation.

            We made the 10 hour drive, down the Shenandoah Valley, over the Blue Ridge, and down through central Virginia and North Carolina.  We arrived a day early to set up our campsite and get organized.   The camping was pretty basic: no established sites, just go out in the woods and find a good spot.  We claimed a site near one of the presentation venues.
            As people trickled into the festival, I noticed a wide age-spread, from infants to about as elderly as you can expect people to camp out in the woods.  There were many younger (under 40) people there, which gratified me.  This is the church’s most problematic demographic.  There were also many booths about various social issues, from torture to immigrants to peace to the environment.  And (thank you, Jesus) a beer tent run by a local micro-brewery!
            The festival kicked-off at 4 pm on Thursday.  Our friends from Susan’s church established themselves next to us, and we went to the main stage to hear a gospel choir from Chapel Hill, followed by opening ceremonies featuring some speakers and festival organizers.  The invocation was given by Vincent Harding, an African-American preacher who was an associate of Martin Luther King, Jr.
            There were many, many presentations happening in about 6 different venues, of varying sizes.  So hard choices had to be made.  I elected to go to hear people I was less familiar with.  I am going to summarize some of what I heard, but bear in mind that there was an awful lot going on and I by necessity missed about 75% of it.
            Anyway, I am going to summarize my experience at this fantastic event in the next few blog posts.  I hope it gives you some idea of what this was about.  Maybe you will be inspired to make the trip next year!

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