As you can see, I’m still dwelling on Wild Goose. Working the booth for Jericho, I got asked all kinds of questions: “What do you do for Jericho?”; “Are y’all based in Nashville?”; “Who do I talk to about getting my book published?” “Where’s Wendy?” Hopefully I answered those questions with at least moderate accuracy.
One question I was asked really sticks out in my mind. Among the other vendors was a social-justice-inspired t-shirt printing company, and one of the girls working the booth (forgive me for not remembering her name), walked up and checked out our already published books. She looked around, and then asked with curiosity, “So…what is this all about?” When she asked the question, I assumed she was talking about Jericho Books, so I started into the, ‘we publish this author, and that author’ speech and gave her as much of the Jericho mission statement as I could remember. But, then she stopped me and said, “No I mean, like, what is this festival about?” I started to go into it: Well, it’s a Progressive Christian festival about sorting out what’s right for everyone…well, it’s a non-exclusive religious festival about looking after each other…eh well it’s also about social justice…but, it is about approaching the Bible critically but open, and I kept going without a def (more…)
There is something about the Wild Goose festival that never ceases to amaze me.
I can’t quite put my finger on it but it is reminiscent of Fair Day from my childhood. For those of you who don’t know about this, I will attempt to explain. When I was a girl, the Mid-South Fair would come to town every autumn. We had a ½-day of school and were given the rest of the day off to go to the Fair. I. Could. Not. Wait. I was antsy leading up to it, desperate for it to arrive. (It was the ideal bargaining chip for my parents to ensure best behavior as well.) It was a struggle to get to sleep the night before and inevitably my dreams would be full of rides and fun houses and cotton candy. I can still remember that anticipation. It gives me goosebumps even now to think about it. Santa Claus had nothing on Fair Day. It was the anticipation for Fair Day that wraps up the feelings I have about the Wild Goose Festival. Because, let’s face it, as grown-ups, there are very few times that we get so keyed up for something that is approaching.
I can honestly say, hand on heart, that the lead up to Wild Goose brings about that same anticipation, and the goosebumps. And the planning, oh! I make lists, I start piles, I start checking the website daily for the countdown. I watch for the schedule to go up. There is also the anti-climax once the Goose has flown. I have waited over weeks to write my blog post because frankly, thinking about the Goose being over makes me terribly, terribly sad. Call me a softly, sentimental, silly, whatever you like for I am surely all of those. And yes, perhaps I romanticize it a bit much, but it makes my feelings no less genuine.
This time last year, we were preparing for our inaugural book, Brian McLaren’s Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?, and Brian’s discussions at Wild Goose ‘12 centered around that inter-faith discussion.
At Wild Goose ‘13 Brian continued the discussion, only this time, he brought back-up. Along with him, came voices of other religions which opened new threads in the discussion. Joining Brian in the conversation this year were Ani Zonneveld from Muslims for Progressive Values and Stuart Davis, a Zen Buddhist in the process of moving to Amsterdam. Each started with their stories, providing a snapshot of how they arrived at this point in their lives. What was captivating was that they all painted an incredibly similar, yet entirely different, story. Like Brian, Stuart was introduced to Christianity at a young age with a fairly conservative upbringing. Ani Zonneveld moved around the globe with her parents, and though her story started out in a different light, it ended up in the same sort of conservative manner (due in part to the change in leadership in Islam).
One of the most memorable things said at Wild Goose 2013 came from Frank Schaeffer. At the beginning of the festival, at the Darkwood Brew Unplugged session, hosted by him and Eric Elnes, Frank said: “Certainty is the enemy of Truth.” It rang true for me the entire weekend.
“Certainty is the enemy of truth” is an exploratory remark that caused me to look inward at the things I believed I was certain of and was intended to open up an internal discussion. So often we as humans are so certain that our certainties are in fact truth. That often gets us into trouble. Frank’s statement means simply that truth is an ever-changing exploration of the moments and thoughts that create a whole idea—it’s a fluid thing that constantly deserves examination.
I think ultimately that’s the goal that the folks at Wild Goose adhere to. They’re not pointing any fingers at those who have reported “truths” that may or may not have been right or righteous in the end, but they’re saying, let’s take a look at it. Let’s not be so certain about something because it has been labeled truth, and let’s always allow for a the chance to change. Uncertainty is a virtue in Christianity, and an undervalued one. Without the desire to know more, without the yearning for knowing who or what God is, we’ve lost an important part of being human (something I think that Eric Elnes may have said).
Taking a look at the Bible, uncertainty appears to be one of the largest veins present throughout the entire text. Even the early leaders of the Church were called to question. Christ tells Peter, you’re going to deny me three times. Even Christ himself in his most Human moment questions what he must go through. So many times throughout the Bible uncertainty rears its beautiful head, in the hopes we will learn the most valuable lesson: that it’s the search for truth that is at the heart of our spirituality, not getting to an end game.
Wild Goose is a place where it’s okay to want to learn more about the endgame than reporting on what we believe the endgame might be. What we believe about suffering, or our relationship to the “Other”, what a pastor, preacher, leader and so on should look like, the meaning of the connection of music to our soul (or rather to God), or even our relationship with ourselves, were topics all raised for questioning at this year’s Wild Goose. Hopefully that fuels a change in the people who were there that then trickles out to everyone.
More recaps around the Jericho authors at Wild Goose in the coming days.
The excitement grows out of the conversation
Jericho Books booth at Wild Goose, Justin Lee author of Torn
For me, part of the excitement in coming to things like Wild Goose centered around visiting the booths and talking to the people sitting at each tent. This year, for the first time, I’m on the other side of the picture. I was excited about spending some time with our authors in their space. There’s a reason that authors like Brian McLaren and Justin Lee play a prominent role at the festival — they are great communicators. I couldn’t wait to be able to hear talk specifically about their books in a natural way … often in casual conversation.
As Sarah Thebarge worked with me at the Jericho Books booth on Thursday I got to see her light up about her book, The Invisible Girls (Jericho, April 2013). Most importantly I got to see her chat about why the book is important to her. (more…)