Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Wild Goose 2: What if we only had 5 years?


Rev. Barber wakes us up

Wild Goose:2

From inside my tent I hear the wake up music from the main stage. It’s the unmistakable bluesy growl and rolling keyboard line of The Rev. Vince Anderson.
Rev. Vince Anderson
(More about Vince later.)
I get up, go to the Desanka tent to grab an oatmeal and coffee  and then to the main stage.

There to wake us up in more ways than one is the Rev. William Barber from North Carolina. Founder of the Moral Mondays movement and now Repairers of the Breach ( and planning a new Poor People’s Campaign. Barber as always is in his red and black clerics, complete with a red stole (usually signifying the presence of the Holy Spirit) as if to proclaim every public prophetic witness is a liturgical event.

It seems to be Barber’s moment now as commentators compare him to Martin  Luther King, Jr. much to the concern of some of his friends. It’s a heavy—and dangerous — mantle to carry. We don’t need another King, they say. A Barber is enough. 

Today he wants to tell us what time it is. But before he gets there, he’s got a litany of what time it is not….

To name a few:
  • It’s not the time of Trump. We were facing the evils of white privilege and racism; police violence, mass incarceration and gentrification long before Trump.
  • It’s not the time of Russia. Our elections were hacked by acts of voter suppression and race based gerrymandering to deny black votes long before Russia hacked in.
  • It’s not the time  of white working class deplorables. The majority of Trump voters were upper income , those who benefit from his policies. The white working class are victims of economic exploitation as well with whiteness used a means of dividing natural allies and diverting class struggle.

SO what time is it?  The voice echoes and booms…it’s movement time! It’s moment time!  It’s movement time!


Barber also reported a visit by African American pastors to try and find common ground with Franklin Graham, who makes his father Billy look like a flaming liberal. Of course he served us fried chicken and watermelon, he said. 


Jim Wallis of Sojourners is next up. He’s currently been portrayed by the New York Times as the godfather of the progressive Christian movement and it’s “inside man.” ( More than anything Wallis has served as bridge between the evangelical world and the world of mainline liberal protestantism. The Times article didn’t seem to get that many of the “liberals” they were lifting up are actually progressive prophetic evangelicals. Wallis is very clear that the single most important issue for us to be working in right now is white privilege. 


What followed was an all star panel of Nadia Bolz-Weber, Michael Waters and Doug Pagitt. 
Round table conversation

Last night Nadia had described a t-shirt that proclaimed   " Radical protestants: nailing shit to church doors since 1517.” She had described repentance as the “freedom from thinking the same over and over and over again.” That our sense of sin keeps us in shame. To which she says, remorse, yes, shame no. Our jagged edges connect us to each other and to God. 

Today Nadia reminds us that its the work of pastors to preach the gospel, administer the sacraments and proclaim the forgiveness of sins. She refers to David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and asks us to think about what it would be like if our churches only had 5 years to live.

We could give it all away. 
We could be free people 
Christ came to set us free. 
Free people are forgiven people.
Forgiveness of sins is REAL.
Free to speak truth to stupid.

What if we only had 5years?


I go to catch Rev. Vince Anderson’s set in the Cafe. 
Russ Jennings and Rev. Vince
I first encounters him when I was on the Great Open Mic Tour of 2015 and we landed at Pete’s Candy Store in Brooklyn. ( you here for church? they asked. I looked in. Saw this bear of a man in a Hawaiian shirt and white Panama hat. Turns out it was Rev. Vince and his Barstool Tabernacle. Which I learned was the successor to Jay Bakker’s Revolution church.  (Vince’s Barstool has now been folded into the Bushwick Abbey ( he directs music) You hear traces of Tom Waits in his music well as a bit of Randy Newman and Dr. John but his style of dirty gospel is all his own.  He shares with us music from his new psalms project. After his set, Kristen Leigh and I spend some time talking with him. Maybe we could put together a whole tent next year?
Robert Brashear and Rev. Vince


Podcast guru Tripp Fuller leads a conversation at the Seminary Happy Hour asking us to ask ourselves three questions about our seminary education:
  1. 1. What was our ‘Oh shit!” (or 'Oh Schnikies”) moments when we realized everything we knew was about too come undone. 
  2. 2. What was the “MMMMM yes, but not quite enough” moment..and
  3. What was the “I may not know for sure but I'm putting my stake in the ground here” moment?


The Goosecast tent hosts an everchanging eclectic collection of podcasts. Like Matt Inman’s “Ineffciency” (  celebrating the value and importance of inefficiency in experiences and relationships and use of time.
Or Carla Ewart of Holy Writ( interviewing Tina Schermer Sellers author of Sex and the Conservative Church.
Tina Schermer Sellers and Carla Ewart
In their conversation, the two women explored the damage done by the (so-called) Purity Movement and Ms. Sellers’ work bringing a Biblically based sex positive perspective to evangelicals.
The day ended with the Brew Theology crew:Ryan Miller, Janel Apps Ramsey, Shane Oram and Andy Millman. ( ) They shared their stories and how Brew theology works, meaningful conversations…and beer. The casual relationship with beer, so much a part of this scene, i snot without deeper implications. Janel, for example, speaks of being seventh generation Nazarene and deciding to leave the denomination rather than live hypocritically. Each person’s journey has its own unique marks. 
The Brew Theology crew


An important discovery  is the Desanka Diner tent.  Taking its name from an African word meaning Joy, Contentment and Pleasure, the Desanka community provides an invaluable service by providing simple free food every day for Goose volunteers and everyone else. A simple act of hospitality that makes thew Goose possible for many and opens tables for unexpected conversations. So a hearty thanks to Desanka (…..

My favorite concert of the festival is Friday night with David Wimbish and the Collection.
David Wimbish and the Collection
They have a special place in my heart since the band spent a night at West Parka couple of years  back following a concert at the Rockwood Music Hall celebrating their Ars Moriendi album. Th next day, they had vehicle issues so they spent the day hanging out and playing music in different configurations throughout our church. I was impressed that so many musoicians would come together to help bring David's music to life. Their music is carries the indie vibe of Mumford, Sufjan Stevens, Fleet Foxes etc. with its own unique orchestral flourishes. The music is also driving and infectious and explores issues of mortality, spirituality and young adult angst. When I first saw them there were at least a dozen musicians with multiple horns and other instruments.  Tonight’s Collection includes in addition to the standard rock lineup a  harmonium and one horn player. With a larger stage and fewer musicians, the players jump around the stage with a punk sensibility. Although as Kristen Leigh says, in North Carolina, genre boundaries are more fluid. Songs from  the new album “Listen to the River”are featured and the music satisfies, intelligent, creative and catchy. (
After show conversation
The Collection

David and his new partner join us at our table and we talk about music and intentional communities. “How great thou art” resounds form the Beer and Hymns tent….

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