Poplar Theology

I was sitting next to our pond very early one morning recently, on the lookout for our nemesis beaver.  While waiting to see if he was going to show himself (he never did) I was pondering some theological puzzle.

After a while it dawned on me that I was being stupid.  Instead of trying to figure out God in my mind, I should be enjoying his presence all around me in nature.

I was facing the pond, with my back to the woods.   “Do you want to know what God is like?,” I asked myself.  “Then you should look around you.”

When I turned to look behind me, here is what I saw.

I’d never noticed that poplar tree before. 

I had to laugh. 

This is what God is like? 

So is it one tree or three? 

The answer, I think, is yes.

Love Wins

The Big House

American overconsumption can be illustrated in many ways, but one very telling way is by looking at how the size of new homes has increased over the past several decades.  Consider this:

The average size of a new home in the U.S.:

1950:  983 sq. ft.
1970: 1500 sq. ft.
1990:  2080 sq. ft
2010:  2438 sq. ft.

This has occurred despite the fact that the size of the families living in those houses has decreased during that time.

This growth in the size of our homes has contributed significantly to the fact that American families now have to rely on two incomes, rather than one, to make ends meet. 

And, in case anyone is wondering, I point this out as someone who lives in an oversized glass house.  We built our house a few years ago, and it is somewhat larger than the national average.  I would offer, as a feeble defense, that our house is much smaller than the average size of houses our economic peers were building.  But the truth of the matter is that we overdid it, and if we had it to do again our home would be smaller.

So is it really necessary that we have 2400 square foot homes?  Of course not.  And one doesn’t have to look at the third world to realize that.

Consider that in the U.K the average size of a new home in 2010 was 818 square feet. 

The obsession with oversized houses is an American phenomenon, which is reflected, sadly, in almost everthing else we consume as well.

I’ve blogged frequently about the cost to society from our overconsumption.  The chances are good that no one reading this blog needs to be reminded of that.

But last weekend at the Wild Goose Festival we attended a talk by Mike Myhrom which used this data about home sizes to help make a point about the price we pay individually for our overconsumption.  We end up trading our lives for stuff we don’t need and can’t afford.  (Mike and his wife Siri blog on these subjects HERE.)

For us, we’re stuck with our oversized house.  But as we go forward in life, we’re determined to try to lead lives of voluntary simplicity.  It is encouraging to know that folks like Mike are out there bringing the message to those of us who need it.

Love Wins

Disabling ourselves from doing good

For by this needless and continual expense, you disable yourself from doing good.  You bind your own hands.  You make it impossible for you to do that good which otherwise you might.  So that you injure the poor in the same proportion that you poison your own soul.  You might have clothed the naked; but what was due them was thrown away on your costly apparel.  You might have fed the hungry, entertained the stranger, relieved them that were sick or in prison; but the superfluities of your own table swallowed up that whereby they should have profited.  And so this wasting of the Lord’s goods is an instance of complicated wickedness; since hereby your poor brother perisheth, for whom Christ died.

John Wesley

Love Wins

A few post-Wild Goose thoughts

These are two of my favorite pictures from Wild Goose.  I have a bunch more (though nothing special) on facebook.  Out here in the country we don’t have high speed internet so it would take me hours to try to load more.  For any interested, just send me (Bill Guerrant) a friend request on facebook.  The album is also linked to the Wild Goose facebook page so you can see it by friending Wild Goose.

The event was truly amazing.  There were multiple overlapping sessions which made it impossible to see all the speakers and hear all the music.  And the sessions started at 9 a.m. and went till after midnight.  Old folks like us just couldn’t handle a schedule like it.  Our cup ran over.

We were able to meet and interact with some of our heroes.  And we met a lot of great people, whose passion for justice and faith was really inspiring.

All the speakers and artists at Wild Goose waived their fees.  Everyone there was sharing for free.

I’m going to blog separately about some of the individual sessions we attended, but in the meantime, check out this partial list of the people we heard:

Richard Twiss on colonialism and alternative (Native American) perspectives of spiritual and Biblical reality.
Nadia Bolz-Weber leading a discussion on the nature of authority.
The Psalters
Michelle Shocked
Christine Sine on gardening and spirituality.

Lynne Hybels leading a discussion on justice in Palestine.

Margot Starbuck on how advertisers manipulate the self-image of women.

Tony Campolo on Red Letter Christianity.
John Dear on radical nonviolence and civil disobedience.
Phyllis Tickle on the Great Emergence.
Abdullah Antepli on the Christian-Muslim conversation.
Diana Butler Bass leading a discussion on resistance to change.
Derek Webb
Mike Myhrom on voluntary simplicity.
Frank Schaeffer on his new book and on surviving fundamentalism.
Brian McClaren talking about his books and leading a discussion on the critical issues facing the next generation.

Jim Wallis on the idolotry of politics.
Ed Dobson telling his story and discussing how to live while facing death.

Jennifer Knapp (I got one of her picks but it hasn’t improved my guitar playing).
Shane Claiborne on radical grace.
Linda Alvarez on the nonviolent practice of law.
Jay Bakker leading a discussion on why churches tend to exclude LGBT issues when addressing social justice.
Beth Neilsen Chapman
Tony Jones leading a discussion on whether prayer matters.

Sean Gladding on narrative theology.

Brian McClaren preaching on (and re-framing) Acts 16.

And much more.

I’ll be processing this for a long time.

We can hardly wait for Wild Goose 2012.

Love Wins

Home from Wild Goose

I had high expectations for the Wild Goose Festival.  They were exceeded.

What an amazing experience.  I can’t capture in words how awesome it was to be in community with so many folks who shared and have shaped our core values.

We have so much to process.  Maybe I’ll blog about some of our experiences later.  For now, we’re settling back into our life here on the farm, already looking forward to next year’s Wild Goose and more determined than ever to be changed and to change the world.

Love Wins


It is our duty to seek emotional truth, as it is to seek intellectual truth, and indeed as we seek them we shall find that they are not two truths, but one.

Kenneth Boulding

Love Wins