We’re back. Inspired. Recharged. Encouraged.
Just as it has the last two years, this year’s Wild Goose has given me a healthy shot of hope and optimism.
The natural setting was wonderful.
Our presentation on sustainable alternatives to industrial agriculture went well and was well-received. That was a relief. And it felt really great to be able to give back to the community that has meant so much to us over the last three years.
There were lots of highlights. Meeting Tripp Fuller of the Homebrewed Christianity podcast was cool. He even ordained me (the bar for ordination as a Homebrewed deacon is set pretty low). We sat in on the recording of an upcoming episode, and received some of Tripp’s own brew (as a sacrament, of course).
Fred Bahnson, who formerly led the Anathoth Community Garden farm and is now on the faculty of the Wake Forest Divinity School, led sessions on sustainability and food and faith every morning, while launching his new book.
Sustainability/food justice was one of three major themes at this year’s event (along with racial reconciliation and nonviolence). I get excited thinking about all the great potential for meaningful changes to our food system that could result from folks coming to appreciate the profound spiritual and religious significance of it. Meeting pastors and others who are starting community gardens in the green space at their churches just fills me with hope and energy. Under the radar, people of faith are doing amazing things to bring good food to their communities and to make good food available to the poor. We were able to make some connections this year that I hope and expect will bear abundant fruit.
We were very pleased that John Dear returned to Wild Goose again this year. His activism in opposition to war and violence, and the example of his life, are very inspirational. He gave a great talk on lessons from the life of Gandhi. It was largely because of what John Dear said at the first Wild Goose that I mustered the courage to quit my lawyer job and dive into farming full-time.
Brian McLaren is another one of our theological heroes and it was awesome to see him again. His books rocked my world. If you haven’t already read “A New Kind of Christian,” do yourself a favor and put it on your “must read” list.
Krista Tippet of the radio show On Being was there and we sat in on her interviews of Phyllis Tickle, Vincent Harding, Brian McLaren and Nadia Bolz-Weber. I love listening to her show on podcast (and highly recommend it). I’m looking forward to hearing the produced versions of the interviews.
There were lots of musical highlights too.
Ears to the Ground Family and Money Cannot Be Eaten are a collection of creative musicians and singers from Harrisonburg, Virginia who are on what they call the “Petrol-Free Jubilee Tour”, traveling to their shows, and transporting their instruments and children, by bicycle. Their performances, under a tent during a driving rainstorm, were great.
The Collection, a crazy ensemble of musicians from Greensboro, opened the event and were a lot of fun.
The Indigo Girls were the mainstage act on Saturday night. We staked out a good spot early in the day. They were great, of course. I was surprised to see John Dear right up against the stage, rocking out and singing along with every song. He’s obviously a great fan. I reckon that during all the times he’s been in prison for protesting war, not only was he reading Gandhi and the Sermon on the Mount every day, but evidently he was listening to the Indigo Girls as well.
These highlights are just the tip of the iceberg. I came home with an armful of new books and a lot of stuff to process. Fred Bahnson pointed out that in nature it is the edges that are the most productive places. I think that’s going to be true of the counter-cultural edge of Christianity as well.
We had quality time with old friends, and we made new friends. It felt particularly satisfying to lend sympathetic ears to refugees from fundamentalism, and to let them know they’re not alone.
There’s a whole lot I could say about that, but if I decide to do that, I’ll just have to do it another day. For now, it’s back to the routine, but with my batteries fully charged and with the confidence that what we’re doing matters in very profound ways.
Long live the Goose.