Just a quick update after a full day of Wild Goose action… I’ll wait until sometime next week to post more thorough reflections on the experience…
The theme for Wild Goose 2012 is Exile and Return. From what I’ve observed and heard, both parts of that theme are present in nearly every conversation. There are plenty of people who are hurting, sad, angry, or cynical about “organized religion,” in general, and “institutional Christianity,” in particular. This is spirit was present last year as well.
However, there is a counterpoint to Exile: Return. From microphones and over microbrews I heard folks share their story of pain and frustration, but with an emphasis on a refusal to give up, a refusal to leave Christianity altogether. Often this came after a time of isolation and was a “coming home,” of sorts.
Frank Schaeffer (above), the once heir apparent of Francis Schaeffer, shared how his granddaughter, Lucy, shows him the face of Christ daily. He credits her with bringing him back to faith in God. Similarly, Ian Cron shared about how a painful transition in his life led him through a desert of cynicism and out into a garden of resurrection..
The Return motif is also present in the lyrics of the performers. Aimee Wilson (below) lilts:
“So long you go down a path
Led by the hold of my hand”
(from ‘Thin Shoes‘ off her new album Unto Us the Sun)
Biggest disappointment so far was the session titled “Theology of Beer.” It was actually the story of Fullsteam Brewery, a microbrewery in nearby Durham, with founder Sean Wilson and local pastor Jimmy Chalmers.
The session opened with Chalmers in full preacher voice, giving what appeared to be a sermonette on the goodness of all God created. Somehow this ended up on the goodness of grain and then, “though the magic of science,” we have beer. Wilson’s contributions lacked luster as well. His three big reasons for starting a brewery were to connect with the local agriculture, provide a place for community, and demonstrate love through the redemption of beer’s image in the South.
None of the things had much to do with beer, per se. Nothing even approaching a theology of beer. As it turns out, Wilson’s never brewed a batch of beer in his life. He’s an idea guy with self-described “shiny object syndrome.” He thought a brewpub would be a cool thing and he made it happen. Props to him for that. But there’s no reason that he couldn’t have met all his objectives with a bakery, a fine resturaunt, or a CSA. Brewing seems like a fun delivery mechanism and little more.
The good news, for me at least, is that my work on brewing and Christian spirituality is still very much needed! So, I press on…