As I said Thursday, Olivia and I attended the first annual Wild Goose Festival this past weekend. It was an amazing weekend of learning, fellowship and fun. We listened to some fantastic speakers, participated in awesome conversations and made wonderful new friends. And, as I also said on Thursday, the best part was sharing with my daughter. For those of you who aren’t fortunate enough to know her, Olivia is an amazing young woman. At 16, she gets things I didn’t understand until I was an adult. Like, we are all God’s children and whether you’re gay or straight, rich or poor, homeless or housed, we all deserve to be treated that way. Or, that violence is never the answer; even when it’s Osama bin Laden we’re talking about. For a teenager, she’s also pretty secure about herself and definitely marches to the beat of her own drummer. I have to admit, she comes by that honestly; I’m the same way. Because I am, I know that high school is not easy for her. Which leads me to another great thing about this weekend: my daughter “found her tribe”.
If you know me, you know I’m loathe to use trendy terms like the one that just ended the last paragraph. Sometimes, however, nothing else will do and this is one of those times. It does help that I heard Nadia Bolz-Weber use it and, for me at least, that gives it a certain cool cachet. Nadia, herself, is also part of the reason Olivia felt she found her particular tribe. Nadia Bolz-Weber is 6′ 1″, with tattoos on both arms (not quite sleeves, but getting there) and a mouth that could make a sailor blush. Oh, did I mention she’s also a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church? Yep, all that and more. In one of her talks this weekend, she said the first album she ever bought was by the Ramones. On hearing that an ordained minister was an admitted punk rocker, my daughter’s eyes lit up. It wasn’t just the speakers and presenters we encountered that fostered her sense of belonging; there was an attitude of acceptance in the air that was almost palpable. It didn’t matter if you were a square, a hippie, a punk, if you had tattoos or wore a suit (I actually saw a guy wearing one!), you were one of “us”. And, how often do you see that happen anywhere else?
Another strange thing that happened was that, although I was completely disconnected from almost everything outside the festival grounds, I didn’t miss it. Oh, once in a while I wondered what was happening in the wide world, but not enough to make a major effort. While I was especially happy to hear the news from New York and the verdict from Rev. Amy DeLong’s trial in the UMC, I was really too busy to worry about what else I might have missed. Not only that, Olivia wasn’t the only one spending time with her tribe; I was too, it just wasn’t a new experience for me.
I know there was some criticism of Wild Goose, that it was mostly white, privileged, liberal intellectuals all getting together to pat each other on the back for how progressive we are or that we were trying to sell Gnostic beliefs to youth(?). While there certainly is some truth to the former, I don’t know where the latter characterization came from. Everything I heard this weekend pointed to the redeeming work of Christ and how we can find the best possible way to follow Him. The Gnosis idea is just the latest form the attack on Emergence Christianity is taking since the “heresy” tack didn’t work. It would be nice, however, if those mounting the assault would do their homework. Whatever.
Like I said at the beginning of this missive, it was a great weekend. While we were there, Olivia wasn’t all that enamored with camping, nor with the ever-present bugs; in her words, “Bugs are stupid! Especially the smart ones.” It didn’t help that we came overly prepared with way too much stuff, all of which had to be packed in on foot. Several times over the weekend, I asked if she would do it again and her answer was an emphatic NO! However, after we’d loaded all our gear up and were pulling out the parking lot, she said “That was a lot better than I thought was while we doing it.” When I asked if she wanted to come back next year, this time the answer was “Definitely.” And, I can’t think of a better way to end this post than that.