Sunday, May 20, 2012

Jesus at Wild Goose and Now on the West Coast Too!

Q: Who stole the word "Christian" and turned it into a word that means "Right Wing Republican" these days?

A: The religious right did and I was part of that effort.

Q: Who will restore the word Christian to its rightful meaning as "followers of Christ" and the word "religion" to mean inclusive love of the other?

A: The Wild Goose Festival is trying hard to do just that.

Wild Goose is an organization that launched its debut festival promoting justice, spirituality, music, and art in June 2011 in North Carolina. I was honored to be a speaker there talking about my journey from far right evangelical religion to progressive politics and tolerant inclusive faith. I'll go again this year (June 21-24) as an unpaid volunteer and speaker for another 4 days of pleasure and inspiration.

The festival's debut attracted 1,700 attendees and a wave of well deserved media attention. Now there is some good news: Wild Goose is coming to the West Coast too.

The WG board announced the addition of the second festival site, "Wild Goose West," to be hosted August 31 - September 2 at Benton County Fairgrounds outside of Portland, Oregon.

About Wild Goose

Wild Goose is an affordable, four-day outdoor festival (inspired by the U.K.'s Greenbelt festival), a Woodstock-style event now to be annually held on both coasts, rooted in and critiquing the fundamentalist religious tradition and offering a real alternative. Wild Goose has become a vibrant progressive and inclusive creative space, a welcoming community experience and an influential voice for justice.

Along these lines, during Wild Goose's debut last year, Jim Wallis, T-Bone Burnett, Phyllis Tickle, Vincent Harding, Over the Rhine, Christian Peacemaker Teams, Brian McLaren, Peggy & Tony Campolo, Inter-varsity Press, Restoring Eden, Michelle Shocked, William Barber, Jim Forbes, Gabriel Salguero, Paul Fromberg, Lynne Hybels and 1700 others of us met to sing, drink beer, learn, teach, argue, pray, eat, dance, and re-imagine a new world. We were Christians, atheists, agnostics, members of other faiths and people from the LGTB community, all races and of all backgrounds. We forgave and welcomed each other.

Forgive me for this blatant promotion but note I'm not officially connected to the festival and I don't have any financial ties to it. My work is non-paid. In the light of my question, who stole the name "Christian?" WG is a personal answer  for me. To explain this I have to tell you a bit of my own story.

Until Irish peace activist Gareth Higgins (the founder and director) asked me to speak at Wild Goose in 2011, I hadn't spoken at a major (or minor) religious event for 25 years plus (with one exception of the Greenbelt Festival in the UK 5 years ago). I'd given up on anything good ever coming out of a community that contains homophobic "family values" bigots, conservative Roman Catholic bishops seeking to strip women of their reproductive rights, and "leaders" like Michelle Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Pat Robertson, Mitt Romney et al.

Almost 30 years ago I found myself abandoning the evangelical world as it became more and more right wing, exclusionary, homophobic and frankly more like some religion based on Ayn Rand than Jesus. Not to mention, the evangelical arena seemed fatally politicized.

But how could I complain? My late father Francis Schaeffer and I helped make it that way.

We helped found the religious right and the anti-abortion movement in the 1970′s and 80′s. I wrote, produced and directed the multi-million dollar documentary series featuring my father ("How Should We Then Live?" and "Whatever Happened to the Human Race?") that started the ball rolling to the eventual takeover of the Republican Party. It was taken over by people who once were mostly interested in Jesus but whose actions eventually made them look more interested in backing George W. Bush and his wars.

In the early 1990s I repented of my family's tilt-to-the-right, changed my mind on politics, life and faith and shook the dust from my shoes and ran. I've written several books like Crazy For God explaining why I left the religious right and the redemption I found in inclusive loving faith.

I'm still hungry for the community faith can provide when its not busy judging others. I want to share that good news. And Wild Gosse Festival is the place I've discovered that shares that vision.

I discovered that there really is a "third way" that transcends the either/or choices between a "Christianity" (and all religions) more interested in how you vote, and a "secularism" that seems to want to strip my life of transcendent meaning. That third way is what Wild Goose means to me and I think, to many others. I hope you join us June 21-24 on the East Coast or August 31 to September 2 on the West Coast. See you there. Drinks in the beer tent on me if you mention that you came to the festival because you read this article!

Frank Schaeffer is a New York Times bestselling author of more thn a dozen books including Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back


Michael Camp said...

I'm with you Frank. Wild Goose, along with other progressive Christian expressions, are restoring our faith in following Jesus. For me, I've got you covered for your first brew in that tent! Thanks for your endorsement and check out my new video series:

Frank Schaeffer said...

Thanks for the good word Michael, see you there and BTW my wife Genie will be with me this year so please do say Hi to us. Best, F

Luke Gillespie said...

Thanks for the update on WG, Frank. Wish I could attend, but my schedule won't allow this year. Still trying to get support for you to come here to speak this Fall sometime. I will pay for your plane ticket if I can get some more support from the community to sponsor you. Ideally, I would pick you up at the Indianapolis airport on a Saturday (mid-day), you would speak on a Saturday evening and the following Sunday morning. Then, I would take you back to the airport Sunday after lunch. I will keep working on this to make it happen.

Michael, thanks for sending me the draft from one of the chapters of your book. All the best to you.

Shaw Sander Dixon said...

West Coast Wild Goose---I'm there. Nice to hear of a gathering of some level-headed folks. Thanks for saying so, Frank.

Shaw Sander Dixon said...

(And Frank? I was polite and I sang my full name and nothing happened.That is the sweetest, funniest typo ever)

Fool4Christ said...

Please read Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas and The Bravehearted Gospel by Eric Ludy, Frank.

Fool4Christ said...


Our survey of full and true Christian faith began with an exhortation to run our race with endurance (Heb. 12:1). The course of life is long and the course of Christian life is difficult and demanding. We can expect many distractions along the way – subtle voices telling us that concentrating on unseen things is folly, that if God really loved you He wouldn’t make your life so difficult, that worship on Sunday is sufficient, that others should be loving and sharing with you rather than you taking all the initiative, that you don’t need to submit to any church leaders, and that you don’t need more teaching from the Word, or that you can decide for yourself just what the Christian life really ought to be. There will be no shortage of voices suggesting that this whole “full faith” enterprise isn’t worth it, and that all you have to do anyway is just believe.
Such voices, however, are not those of the Word of God.
In every age there have been smart, clever, articulate, and persuasive false teachers who have led many believers into a compromised faith. They use all the language of Scripture and elevate the Name of Jesus, but their teaching departs from the truth of Scripture in subtle ways, and those who follow them never quite get around to knowing full and abundant life in Christ. The writer of Hebrews is as urgent about this as Paul and Peter and John: Do not allow yourself to come under the thrall of false teachers, no matter how appealing they may be, for you will not attain full faith in Christ sitting at their feet.
So how do we keep ourselves from being led astray by false teaching? By pursuing full faith in Christ day by day! The only way to keep from being led off the course of the race we have been appointed to run is to make sure that we are staying on that course, day-in and day-out. This means ongoing attention to both facets of full faith – making sure of the hope we have in Jesus Christ, and working to bring forth the evidence of that hope in every aspect of our lives.
Living the Christian life is a full-time endeavor. The tendency among so many contemporary Christians is to live their lives in niches – work life here, family life here, avocations and diversions here, church and Christianity here, and so on. As many studies and polls have shown over the years, the vast majority of those who profess to be born-again followers of Jesus Christ lead lives which are barely distinguishable from their unbelieving contemporaries. They spend their money in the same way, watch as much television, participate in the same diversions, carry about as much debt, and divorce at about the same rate. This is because they’re living their faith in a niche – the niche of church and Christian activities. This is where they do their “Christian thing.” The rest of their lives seem hardly affected by their profession of faith in the King of glory.
If this is how you live, then you will certainly be vulnerable to being pulled off the course of full and vibrant Christian faith. Our Lord Jesus has redeemed, not just the souls of those who believe in Him, but their whole lives. He has reconciled us, whole and part, back to God, and He is now in the business, by His Word and Spirit, of making all things new in our lives. Assured of eternal life because we have trusted in Jesus Christ alone for our salvation, we must now be about the business, as Paul puts it (Phil. 2:12), of working out – out, not for – our salvation day by day. We must strive to yield all our relationships, roles, responsibilities, possessions, and time to the Lord Jesus Christ. From these staging-grounds we may show the watching world the reality of full faith, evidenced in the undeniable power of transformed lives.
Live this way – live full faith! – and you will not be led astray.

by T. M. Moore

Michelle McConnell said...

It was wonderful to meet you at the Goose, Frank - thank you so much for sharing your honest journey and helping many of us find our own. Wild Goose as "post-cynical" is my favorite description, and you express that so well. You and Ian Cron and Rev Barber and so many others gave me hope that we can be more than reactive, we can be proactive, until "peace and justice kiss" (ps 85). May the peace of the Lord be with you and your loved ones, friend.

Ginger Kendle said...

Really interesting post! I have never visited this festival, so I think I should do it next year) Lovely post, I will suggest it to my writer at