Wow! Wild Goose, what can I say? It was what I expected and so much more. It was a gathering of about 1700 like-minded people of all ages and backgrounds. It was a safe place to talk and to share. It was a place to refuel.
The Wild Goose Festival was an event that was 10 years in the making and brought together progressive people from around the world. Although it was predominantly Christian, all faiths were welcome. Rabbi Or Rose and Imam Abdullah Antepli were participants. I actually got to speak briefly with Abdullah who smiled and told me that "Cherie" means "heavenly" in Persian.
And that was one of the beautiful things about this event; there was no barrier between the presenters and the participants. Both performers and attendees camped and ate together. Often I would be strolling along and walk past someone whose work I admired. And they were all approachable. In my previous post telling about the event, I mentioned how discovering Sojourner's magazine and the writings of Jim Wallis had helped save my faith. Well, I got to meet him. After my telling him in my tongue-tied way how important his writing has been to me, he asked if he could give me a hug:
I got to literally sit at the feet of Brian McLaren as he facilitated a discussion on global versus local economies and their impact on the environment, poverty, peace, and religion. I sat next to Lynne Hybels as she discussed the need for justice for the Palestinians, as well as for the Israelis. I heard Tony Campolo, Phyllis Tickle, Jay Bakker, Tony Jones, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Shane Claiborne, Frank Schaeffer, John Dear, and many, many others. Some were familiar authors and speakers, others were new to me. In addition to the speakers, there was music and art.
This four day event was jam-packed, beginning at 9 a.m. every day and lasting to well past midnight. In addition to listening to the speakers, we attended four concerts. On Saturday, my hubby and I realized that we had something going on every hour from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. We had to cut out a couple of events so that we could eat lunch and dinner! And we had to choose from among several events every hour.
Wild Goose was such an affirming experience for me. For many years I had felt alone in my attempt to wrap together my Christian faith with my beliefs in creation care, non-violence, simple living, and social justice. And there I was surrounded by hundreds of like-minded individuals who were eager to explore the questions together, never pretending to know all the answers. What is more encouraging is that the gathering included a large number of students and pastors, people whose influence can change the next generation. They will be the public face of Christianity, a face that is not judgmental and selfish, but is loving and accepting. Right now I'm feeling good about that face.
This festival was a virtual anti-trust lawsuit against the monopoly that is called the Christian Right. They can no longer claim to own absolute truth, define what it means to be a Christian, and then call those who question their beliefs "heretics." They cannot tell me that being a Christian isn't about something you can do but about what you believe, and then proceed to tell me what I must do in order to be a part of the club.
This event was so amazing and overwhelming. There were lots of new voices that I'm looking forward to exploring. As a result of this event, I've probably added about 20 books to my wish list, books written mainly by authors that are new to me. I'm sure this is not the last you will hear about this event, about it's impact on my life, and about the amazing people I've met.