Readers of this blog know that I have written in years past on the annual “Wild Goose Festival,” which is taking place right now in Hot Springs, North Carolina. The yearly meet-up is a kind of Woodstock for progressive Christians. It features music, speakers, art displays and more. Many of the personalities there are disaffected evangelicals. In fact, Frank Schaeffer described it today as a place for “survivors of evangelical backgrounds.” He writes:
Wild Goose is for me is a refugee camp. We are the survivors of dashed hopes and certainties. We are not alone. We are in America but not of it. We love to love God but do not always hear his her or its voice. We are like dream walkers on the edge of waking up in a new place we do not know.
I don’t have much to add to what I’ve said in previous years. I did some browsing on the conference website today, and it appears that the meeting is moving further to the theological fringe. There are the familiar progressives like Brian McLaren, Jim Wallis, and Frank Schaeffer. Jars of Clay will be performing as well. InterVarsity Press is still listed as one of the sponsors.
But there will also be performances by the likes of Rev. Yolanda, a drag queen “gospel” singer from Alabama. The festival features pagan altars constructed to honor deceased progressive heroes. Another thing I noticed are changes on Wild Goose’s “About” page. Three years ago, they described themselves as “followers of Jesus” in the “Christian tradition.” That language is no longer there.
Taking all of this in, I’m wondering if there is anything at all that is distinctly Christian about the Wild Goose Festival. As far as progressive Christianity is concerned, Wild Goose looks to be growing more progressive while growing less Christian.
“In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” Judges 17:6
Once you dis-acknowledge God as King, what else to do but what your natural, corrupted state tells you is correct.
If your definition of “Christian” is “social conservatism” (which, for many Evangelicals, it more or less is), then it is probable that the Wild Goose Festival seems unchristian. However, most Mainline church services get branded “un-Christian” by Evangelicals as well, despite the fact that they also feature recitations from Bible verses (OT and NT), Psalms, and the Gospel. It’s the interpretation that cues us to the key differences.
I get confused by all the mixing of political labels with flavors of Christianity. I’d say that “progressive” Christian churches are a waning movement while LDS and the Catholic Church maintain their standing or make inroads with the changing demographics of the USA. But, these socially conservative yet doctrinally heretical sects get far less negative attention from the Evangelical conservative press.
Lots of folks can cite Bible verses, the ability to do so doesn’t make the or thir organization Christian.
Thanks for th heads up. Not only has the festival dropped any specific Christian identity on it’s “About” page, I’ve noticed that the names are increasingly less familiar to those outside the camp. No Lynne Hybels or Tony Campolo this year, it seems.