Sunday, July 30, 2017

Goose 2017 Postscript: Of health care. And beer


wild Goose signpost

Goose 2017:  postscript

After living through a week of  watching a Senate debate about health care that defies belief, I thought back to Wild Goose 2017 once again. Dr. William Barber had very detailed analysis of what the  effects of various proposals would be. Dr. Barber and his movement are doing the best work I’ve seen in terms of specific polices in the public process. But as I recall it was Otis Moss III who used the phrase murder by policy. He said, they say, well, there won’t be people dying in the streets. But in fact there will be. It’s murder by policy, plain and simple. That’s what gets lost in the coverage of the debate. There’s this drive to  undo a program, simply because it was the work of President Obama. The real life impact on millions of us is simply not part of the equation.  I honestly don’t believe the President even understands what the current system is and what dismantling it would mean and most Republicans simply don’t care. The emerging congressional political consensus seems to be that health is a privilege to be earned not a human right to be provided by society. If one cannot afford health care, well then one simply doesn’t deserve it. This from people who whipped up panic by talking about nonexistent death panels. Congress itself is now a death panel, deciding who will live and die…..


And now for a few words about beer. I’ve been reflecting on the role of beer in Wild Goose culture. On one level, nothing mysterious here. A few beers among friends is a good thing. And any seminarian can name the pub where theological  discourse was passionately pursued until the wee hours.  In New York City, I had a young friend who dreamt  of an urban monastery that produced a really  fine craft brew. As Benjamin Franklin didn’t actually say, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” Or on this 500th anniversary of Luther, we should recall what Luther had to say on the issue:
“Whoever drinks beer, he is quick to sleep; whoever sleeps long, does not sin; whoever does not sin, enters Heaven! Thus, let us drink beer!”I often imagine his voice joining the nightly Beer and Hymns.

But I suspect there is  more. From the theological happy hours to the craft beer tent to the official Wild Goose beer glass, it is clearly a part of the culture.
Official Goose beer glass
Some of it is a bit tongue in cheek.  But it goes deeper. Many of the Goose family are children of American evangelical culture, a culture that for the most part is teetotaling. Who can forget the role the Women’s Christian Temperance Union in bringing prohibition? In those days, prohibition was seen as part of a social gospel witness on behalf of the (especially) urban poor. 

Thus for even progressive prophetic and post evangelicals, a simple beer has transgressive content, becomes a way of declaring an emotional, intellectual and spiritual independence. For those who were part of communities that were countercultural, it becomes a way of becoming part of American culture one way while exploring new ways of becoming counter. Sharing a beer with friends  becomes,  in a way, liturgical. And for someone like our seventh generation Nazarene friend, becomes a very serious act. For her, she felt she needed to leave the denomination to participate in this simple act without hypocrisy. 

So as we drink one final toast to Wild Goose 2017, let ’s consider what a difference a beer makes….

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