Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Wild Goose 3:Is it the darkness of the tomb or darkness of the womb?


The Goosecast Sign

Wild Goose 3

Awakened in the morning by the righteous sound of the Trinity UCC Choir warming up the audience for Otis Moss III.  In a passionate sermon, Moss stated clearly why All Lives Matter is a negation of Black Lives Matter. That only when Black Lives Matter can All Lives Matter. He shared a parable about how some need to smooth the path to the river so that others may enter and cross. And shared  the seldom told story of Vernon Johns, who preceded Martin Luther King, Jr at Dexter Avenue  Baptist church in Birmingham, Alabama. How he had to talk his way into Oberlin Seminary and then graduated with honors. He challenged us to honor those who have gone before us…and to open the way for those who come next. 

Diana Butler Bass asked that  we consider the theological  implications of gratitude using the story of Zaccheus. She described the First Century culture in which gratitude functioned within a pyramid of privilege. In his role as a tax collector, Zaccheus had become an agent of the empire participating in the oppression of his own people. His place in the tree symbolic of his place in society. Jesus challenges Zaccheus, and thereby us, to come down from  our pyramid of privilege and join in a community of solidarity.


In the Lecture Hall tent, Brian Sirchio led a conversation about the 6 Marks of Progressive Christian Worship Music ( and his new company The Convergence Music Project. It’s an effort to move beyond praise music to music with more complex theology while seeking to draw traditional evangelicals and prophetic evangelicals into a convergence of music. For Siricho these marks include:
  1. A sensitivity to peace, justice and the fullness of human experience.  The need for the Biblical genre of lament. (Rev. Vince says every worship service needs at least one break up song).
  2. Inclusive language….our language matters. We live in a  time when our language reflects what we believe, true inclusion demands inclusive language. I raised the fact that we have a real lack of attention to language around disability, And that this requires us to enter into some painful areas. EG, Amazing Grace is a dearly beloved song. (You have to hear Rev. Vince sing it Blind Boys of Alabama: House of the Rising Sun style..) But it uses the language of physical infirmity as a metaphor for spiritual infirmity. (When an African-American music director said, but it’s just metaphor, the response was , Yeah, like wash me and I shall be whiter than snow..) Who has the power to control the use and meaning of metaphor is always a matter of privilege.  There is also the issue my associate Katherine spoke of when she said But I can always sing things I could never say
  3. Progressive theology 
    1. A focus on the good and the process of transformation
    2. No personal substitutionary atonement language
    3. No “only one way” language
    4. No supercessionism or triumphalism
4.  Emphasis on both individual and community
Gospel calls us to community
Personal must lead to communal
5.  Emotional authenticity
Must provide psycho social meaning
Head and heart together
Make sure lyrics are deep enough to hold repetition (like Taize, e.g.)
Musically accessible
No bloody Jesus
No boyfriend Jesus
6.  Need for fresh language, lively metaphors, moving beyond didactic

Welcoming is being invited. Belonging is they miss you when you’re gone…be careful to avoid how “our” can become tribal.

It was also noted that choir singing is becoming non-normative, no longer part of our common experience. (Right here is where we need the participation of Orion Stephanie Johstone whose radical choir songs  are shaping communities of resistance..(


Meanwhile, back at the Goosecast tent, Russ
Russ Jennnings
 is ready to host his own podcast Love In a Dangerous Time with his new cohost, Kristen Leigh.
Kristren Leigh Southworth
( Their first broadcast together is with Goose co-founder Jeff Clark. 
Jeff Clark
Kristen Leigh and Russ join in conversation with Jeff as he shares his journey from the burning desire for something more to the first gathering of a few dozen to today’s gathering of 3000 plus. The experience of exploring uncharted territory. He reminds us of Sikh activist Valerie Kaur’s comment that what we are experiencing right now as a nation may not be the darkness of the tomb, but rather the darkness of the womb. Kristen Leigh ends the podcast with a song: 
We’re gonna keep on walkin’forward, never turnin’ back…

Let it be said, we appreciate Jeff’s work as MC of the
Goose MainStage…and his shameless old white guy dance…

Up next, two of my favorites, Charles Breten and Chris Henson of the podcast A Jew and a gentile walk into a bar….mitzvah.
A Jew and a gentile.....

Their show is a unique blend of theology, sardonic humor, detailed cigar critique and exploration of the human condition. ( Feels a bit like a  theological Car Talk…) Part of the power of their podcast comes from a personal relationship begun with a mutual appreciation of humor in a steam bath and a profound shared experience of depression. Part of their mission is to bring the conversation about depression out of the shadows and into the light to take away stigma and allow others to know they are not alone. Through the clouds of fine cigar smoke, the love…and intelligence…shine through.

Then Goosecast Happy hour continues with Pub Theology’s Bryan Berghoef and friend and special surprise guest emergent church guru Bryan McLaren.
Pub Theology
Its an interesting conversation. One guest speaks of the importance of Rotary Club in his life. The idea of Service above self. And I remember how seriously my father took the Four way test…applied to everything we think or do:
1. Is it the truth?
2. Is it fair to all concerned?
3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

      Bryan McLaren recalls that Phyllis Tickle has said that every 500 years we need to reset the table every 500 years. And that earlier today, Otis Moss had said that we need o let what is dying die and what is dying is whiteness.

We are in a process of ongoing co-creation with the creator. That we need rituals to release the hurt done to us. And that Baptism is an entry into a mission of shared humanity.
( I later said to Bryan that this was the answer to the question as to why Jesus was baptized. An ultimate expression of his solidarity with humanity, his oneness with humanity in every aspect of life. )
Someone asks "If you had it to do over again would you?" The answer was not easy.

Russ, Bob and Kristen Leigh


The evening saw the introduction of side stages where there were performances during stage resets. Molly(formerly of Me & Molly) Stevens ( )played a set of classic Nashville Country. Former Christian music (I still find that an odd term…what about Bach? Mozart?) Jennifer Knapp talks about her journey and the process of coming out and  shares her music.( Methodist pastor Sherry Cothran has her own solo set( and the night ends with the big sound of John Mark McMillan, including a Springsteen cover with his originals. (

The music slowly fades. Beer & hymns comes and goes. Our conversation continues. From music to the Nicaean Creed and feminist virgins. Another day at the Goose comes to an end….

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