The “we” is because Ricci and I will make the pilgrimage together to the Wild Goose Festival, June 23-26. We have decided that this pilgrimage will be our 11th wedding anniversary gift to each other.
We are very aware that it will not be the perfect gathering of people that will solve the entire cadre world’s problems and bring ultimate cosmic transformation, where candy cotton flowers will bloom and angels will be putting us to sleep with holy lullabies. But because we know the Sacred have this way of seeping through the crevices of our broken humanity and ill treated nature, we’ll be wide-eyed looking for bright manifestations of joy and hope.
We are going because for us it would be a practice in sacramental living. What do I mean by that? I mean that we in our specific places live in a dialectical relationship with the immanent and the transcendent presence of God. God’s grace allows our finite embodiment, in the particularity of place, to enter into the unfathomable reality of God’s life in this world. God’s intervention, the Incarnation, evokes a historical reality. It testifies to a concrete expression of some new way of living in the world. Therefore, gatherings in place and space, like Wild Goose Festival, are holy places where the Sacred is present and can be encountered.
Because of the reality of Creation and Incarnation humans are able to bring a sense of transformation that honors “placeness” in the world. In the light of such reality human response must not be a private one, but one that intervenes and makes public God’s presence in the world. With this understanding, human activities and relationships in particular localities have the blessed opportunity to be sacraments pointing to God’s loving relationship and activity in the world. Therefore, for Ricci and I, the Festival can be a humble and fragile but vibrant sacrament of God-space (a.k.a. God’s Kingdom).
At the Wild Goose we will join others in dreaming up and cracking open new neuro-pathways that will help us imagine “what if…” Aware of own limitations and brokenness, we would take serious the sacramentality of presence and space; and dare for sometime break the ground, plant seeds and humbly cultivate a liberate space. To cultivate is an intentional act: the seeds are not just thrown around, and the gardener live in hope that choreography between action (ploughing, planting, watering, feeding with compost, pruning, etc) and hope would bring delicious fruit. And then back to cultivating again. I believe our time at Wild Goose in less than 2 months will be a large apprenticeship gathering, not that we have already arrived, but a sacramental space to learn crafts and experience new movements to keep cultivating the soul, nature and communities.
The Gospels tell of Jesus’ bitter denunciation of the Father’s abandonment. This was the moment when Jesus lost everything– his followers, his kingdom, his God. The death of Jesus made evident that in the incarnation God took upon Godself the totality of human experience.
Here we encounter what Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek refers to as the perverse core of Christianity in which “ when Christ dies, what dies with him is the secret hope discernible in ‘Father, why hast thou forsaken me?’: the hope that there is a father who has abandoned me.” This is the event horizon that precedes the life-giving death of Jesus. Jesus’ experience of forsakenness by God, ushered in the moment of death when all of human structures of existence were grasped within the experience of God. Our human experience, including death, at that moment was made part of God’s own life.
 Slavoj Zizek, The Puppet and the Dwarf : The Perverse Core of Christianity (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2003), 171.
Smyth & Helwys, the press whose primary market is the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, published the first book of a hyphenated emergent collection – Baptimergent. It was an excellent book with all types of Baptists collected together including Southern, American, Alliance, Cooperative, Liberal, Conservative, Dudes, Ladies, Black, White, Democrats, Republicans, and even Hauerwasians!!! For some reason Smyth & Helwys thought it would be ok for them to have a chapter calling out most Baptist churches as having an idolatrous love of our country or economic blinders to the message of justice in scripture and other such seemingly controversial issues BUT should an ordained gay baptist minister tell his story without obligating the reader to agree with him it gets cut for being ‘Too Gay.’
That banned chapter was written byBrian Ammons whose Big Tent legend continues to grow! When those of us who also contributed chapters found out his chapter wasn’t going to be published we were very disappointed and considered dropping the project all together. That said I guess we weren’t surprised. Being a very proud Baptist, one of the things that continuously embarrasses me is NOT our fundamentalist cousins in the SBC but the uber-wussy “moderate” Baptists who basically pretend to be radically different than their SBC friends because they ordain women (and hire very few of them). I have long hoped for a Baptist community that is a big enough fellowship to permit every disciple of Jesus to be present, honest, and then encouraged to take the next step in their faith. When issues intimately connected to the heart of faith for us more progressive baptists comes up we are usually told by leaders two things….1)we agree with you! 2)don’t speak so loud… I get how this is pragmatic if you want to keep a bunch of people in your churches, denominational fellowship, giving money, supporting ministries, and such. I just find this pragmatic muzzle burdensome and only an expectation of us more progressive types. I don’t see Jesus using a muzzle to get a bigger audience, John the BAPTIST (lol) didn’t, Clarence Jordan sure didn’t, Walter Rauschenbusch didn’t…..any way.
Last Thursday and Friday I was part of a great gathering of people in Phoenix, AZ – Big Tent Christianity Conference. Among the many good people I met, there was this crazy cat named Travis Reed.
Travis is an awesome mad artist who is behind The Work of the People video productions and resources. After a long night cigars, good beer and conversations, the next day he entrapped me into a crazy quick interview.