Monday, August 19, 2013

Our New Testament Best

©2013 Scott Griessel/Creatista
My Wild Goose journey began last year at the festival where I spent most of my time quite intentionally seeking encounters with Evangelical and Charismatic Christians in order to begin the healing of my past where I had rejected my connection to each of those streams of Christianity. The experience was powerful and transformative. It was also the point I started my personal journey into Convergence Christianity since it was there that I “met” Eric Elnes, Scott Griessel and Dinah Gomez of Darkwood Brew three dimensionally (they having been two-dimensional acquaintances previously). It has been liberating tojump into the flow of the wild spirit of God moving among people moving beyond labels. My deepening involvement in Darkwood Brew (including a sabbatical trip to Omaha to peek behind the curtain) has helped to frame that exploration and at this year's Wild Goose Festival opened avenues for conversation.

One gift of experiencing a second Wild Goose Festival is the hindsight to see how the Wild Goose spirit has been alive in my journey between festivals. One prime example is seeing my friend Kimberly Knight bravely encounter a theological foe in Billy Humphrey and come away with a personal encounter that didn't change either one's position but left both of them genuinely loving the other. The day before I left for this year's festival I received my copy of the new Daniel Amos CD that includes a song with the lyrics, “Could take an eye for an eye, drown in a big blood bath; That fast (Crash!) and baby, we’re a sad aftermath, but we thought better of it. Our love had mercy on us. We got dressed in our New Testament best and thought better of it.” Looking forward to seeing Kimberly and the author of those words, Terry Scott Taylor, I set off for North Carolina expecting to meet lots of folks dressed up in their New Testament best.

I met Kimberly just as she was arriving with a group of folks who had traveled with her from Atlanta. When I commended (OK, shilled) the Darkwood Brew DVD on homosexuality and the Bible I had the odd experience of having push back from her friends fearing I was part of a group who might use the Bible to bash. They clearly didn't see that I was dressed in my New Testament best and forgot the over-the-top warm greeting Kimberly and I had exchanged (they can be forgiven for not knowing that I was the officiant at Kimberly and LeAnn's wedding in Second Life). By the time I had this encounter I was already well into my experience of this year's festival, which had a different tone to it for me. I was a wandering ambassador for Darkwood Brew in particular and Convergence Christianity in general. This year, as I encountered post-Evangelicals I was enthusiastically sharing the story of my journey from Evangelical-attacking-Liberals to Liberal-attacking-Evangelicals to post-Liberal-big-tent-joyful-Convergent-Christian. As much as this was a counterpoint to the healing that began a year before, it was also a good news gift I was able to offer to those who cared to listen.

Thankfully, many did care to listen, and that's saying something since my come on was an infomercial-worthy pitch for a punch card for coffee at the Darkwood Brew tent (complete with a “but wait, there's more!”). Even though I sold a good number of the cards, I was a pretty big failure as a salesman since after I sealed the deal I would launch into marvelous conversations with my new found friends. There was not one of these conversations that was negative, a fact that filled me with great hope for the future of the church. Sadly, not everyone got the memo, as evidenced by the attack piece written by the Institute on Religion & Democracy in the American Spectator. It reminded me that there is a price to be paid when exploring changes or possibly leaving one's tradition. It gave me a deeper respect for those coming to the Wild Goose from the right, knowing that it may be costing them something. 

Will, Brandan & Troy
 One of my happiest encounters this year was tracking down (don't believe them when they call it stalking) Brandan Robertson, Troy Medlin and Will Eastham of the Revangelical Podcast and Blog. Not only were they having fun and fun to be with, they seemed to appreciate hearing my long-winded telling of my personal journey (even though I offered to get off my soap box multiple times) receiving it as a gift. I know that they face the possibility of not being able to continue the paths to ministry they have begun because of their challenging of doctrine, yet they continue to be filled with hope and bear it with a smile. Their faith is contagious, their return gift to me and to all the people of God.

Terry Scott Taylor
Throughout the festival, my Darkwood Brew shirt gave me the confidence to feel qualified to approach speakers and leaders (my problem, not theirs, as the festival is truly a great equalizer). Still, I committed one act of unadulterated fanboy stalking. I brought my copy of that Daniel Amos CD I had just received as well as the liner notes from my 1981 Alarma! cassette (Google it youngins) for Terry Scott Taylor to sign. When I saw him arrive prior to the Lost Dogs performance I didn't let the semi-secluded “green room” stop me from sitting next to him for a 20 minute talk about his career. Listening again to his music that I had listened to in college, I realized that he had been preaching a message of God as love instead of God as judge during his entire career. Songs like I Love You #19 and Hit Them (I hit them too hard. I did it with a book. He had to take another look when I hit them with love) were swimming upstream against the Christian Music message of the time. Talking with Terry I learned that he faced opposition from the Evangelical mega-church establishment of the 80's when he resisted being simply a tool for evangelism (he was kind enough not to call it proselytizing) instead choosing to be an artist giving his best for God. That conversation helped me to realize that the seeds of my current belief system were planted way back then as part of his musical witness.

The Wild Goose of the Holy Spirit has been honking in the distance for a long time. I'm so happy to now be among the many who have been chasing the call. Won't you put on your New Testament best and join us?

No comments: