The Good, the Bad and the Ugly from Wild Goose West

Sep 4, 12 • Conferences6 Comments

The Burner’s back from Wild Goose West and had a memorable time. Fuller’s DMin program was an official sponsor for the event and appreciated the ad in the program!

Let’s get to this–one blogger’s experience. Feel free to disagree in the comments!


Flowers from nearby Mary's Peak outside Corvallis, Ore.

Corvallis, Ore. is a beautiful place that everyone who loves God’s creation should visit.

If indeed those who align themselves along the progressive/mainline Church feel that there is no place for them to gather and feel encouraged, then Wild Goose seems about perfect. The sessions were diverse and thought-provoking, and the speakers were well-known.

There was some fantastic music, both on the main stage and on the Friendship Deck. Check out the websites for Shelley Short, Kelli Schafer, and Speaker Minds.

The plethora of outstanding organizations sponsoring the event was inspiring. TB is used to the more conservative orgs that populate most Christian conferences, but there is a whole world out there of more progressive organizations working towards the same goals of evangelism, social justice and meeting basic needs for those that can’t provide for themselves. TB apologizes not to be able to report on more specific information.

Further, there are some really innovative schools offering great opportunities besides Fuller. TB really enjoyed making friends with those from the Seattle School and Seattle Pacific.

Lastly, these same two institutions offer great literary resources in Image and The Other Journal, respectively. You should check them out.

All in all, it was a great time with some wonderful people, including a few that have or will teach DMin classes for Fuller: Richard Rohr, Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt and Daniel Kirk.


Wild goose is a helpful and positive event, but not as helpful as The Burner hoped it would be.

Yes, there were those who believed differently than TB, and there were those that believed REALLY differently than TB, but there wasn’t there truly different feel that TB hoped to find. Namely, a show of true tolerance and grace for those that believe differently.

Or, Wild Goose is Catalyst for progressives.

There is a certain circling of the wagons that goes on at these events–no matter what the spectrum. Liked-minded people attract like-minded people, but the “more tolerant” section of Christianity didn’t invite the “less tolerant” section of Christianity to the table. (To be fair, maybe they were invited and the invitation was refused. Or, even more probably, the organizers feel that the less-tolerant cousins have already had their say ad nauseum.)

Progressive Last Supper--without the food: Richard Rohr, Nadia Bolz-Webber, Elician Rosario-Cruz, Brian McLaren, Ryan Marsh, Sara Fischer, and Bruce Reyes-Chow.

So, for example, those who attended the “Denominations: Dead or Alive” discussions would have found that no traditionally conservative denominations were present. Catholic, Anglican, Episcopalian, and Lutheran were present to discuss, but nobody else. Maybe that’s appropriate; the discussion between Nadia Bolz-Webber and Mark Driscoll on denominations may not be productive.

But we  have to start somewhere if unity in the Church is at all a goal. So, attention those who program conferences: Broaden your reach and offer a space in the discussion for those who disagree greatly and not just to trot out the same voices familiar to each side. Somebody get Bruce Reyes-Chow to Willow Creek. And somebody get John Piper to Wild Goose.


The Burner was excited to go to “Beer & Hymns” for TB was raised that drinking alcohol was antithetical to the Christian life. Beer and hymns would be a very interesting combination.

And it was, but for the wrong reasons. Here’s why:

The beer was being sold by three bartenders taking cash only. TB gave a ten for the $5 drink. TB got back five ones and started to put them away.

The bartender swore under her breath, “You —-ing people.” A sign that said “Jesus loves generous tippers” and TB put a dollar in the tip jar. She mumbled a thank you.

Now, those that are familiar with bar etiquette know that TB faux pas‘d a bit by not tipping. You should tip a bartender. (TB tips at a bar, and this was more like a concession stand, so TB has a difference of opinion with this one bartender as to what kind of establishment with wheels requires a tip.)

However, the worst (for TB) was yet to come. It is unknown if it was unbearable for the bartender.

The hymn tent was ten feet away from the bar/truck and filled with sweaty Christians lofting their brew and singing hymns of praise…ostensibly to God but being led by man with a chicken puppet. (An aside, TB saw this ‘performance artist’ at Soularize last August and agrees wholeheartedly with the less-than-enthusiastic reviews they post on their own promo material.) That’s cool–TB likes chicken puppets as much as the next blogger–but in his vigorous dancing forgot most of the words to some well-known hymns and had to be pulled back by his partner to focus on the lyrics. The hymns suffered.

Further, TB was irritated when the songs quickly devolved into “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and “I’ll Fly Away”–songs that for our comfortable lives and embrace of the in-breaking of the the Kingdom of God feel more than a little disrespectful to the original singers in the midst of their oppression.

Not to mention TB’s worry that every line of our raucous, escapist singing was hammering home the notion to the bartender than Christians are selfish, stingy and can’t wait to get out of this place while preaching love and peace.

Us —-ing people indeed.


TB hopes that Wild Goose West can make it happen again next year. What a great time in Oregon and TB thinks that the Geese should permanently fly west to cool Corvallis and abandon their humid, sticky North Carolina nest.

Thanks to those who made Wild Goose West possible!

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6 Responses to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly from Wild Goose West

  1. […] Paul Ryan are more authentically evangelical than T.D. Jakes.1. Fuller Seminary’s Burner blog redefines “traditional” and “conservative”Here’s a snippet of the Burner’s review of the Wild Goose West festival:Those who […]

  2. Jps says:

    The hymns “devolved” into hymns? Methinks the blogger is straining for a reason to be unhappy…

    • The Burner says:

      You might have a point–but a better sentence could have been constructed. I really wanted to like the beer and hymns, but the selection did indeed leave me frustrated for the reasons stated.


  3. Diana Liz Dettwyler says:

    I loved the beer and hymn singing and I loved the unrefined enthusiasm expressed by the chicken puppet dancer and and found it quite refreshing. I saw and experience the sing just as a bunch of people coming together enjoying the singing of some of the common songs of the faith. I did not have high expectations for the people leading and saw them more as facilitators. Everyone seemed to have an equal part in the singing and enjoyment of being together with raised voices.

    As for the tipping issue, the rant from the bartender was out of line and was posted immediately on the event page. However it was met with a gracious response from attenders. The bartender seemed to already have a beef against stingy tippers. It was clear that the expectations of the server did not match up with the type of event going on. Were the clientele supposed to tip the servers that sold soft drinks as well?

    Not everyone was drinking beer in the hymn sing, so it’s unfair of the server to criticize everyone at the event as being stingy Christians.

    I realize I’m responding mostly to the bartender’s problem, but as a whole the entire festival was great and refreshing to me. I’ve also been to many events and though this one wasn’t perfect, it was pretty darn good!

    • The Burner says:

      Thanks for your comment! I was unaware that the bartender made a public statement, but I would love to see the event page where it was addressed so I can amend this post.

      Can you send it to me?

      The Burner

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It’s been five years since The Burner first ignited.

But now it’s time for The Burner to diminish.

Don’t cry for us, blogosphere-a; the truth is we’ll never leave you.

Fuller has started a blog on Patheos, and The Burner will be migrating to a column published on Fridays. The treasure trove of old Burner posts will still be available here on The (Back)Burner, simmering away for your education and edification.

I’ve loved running this blog and have fantastic memories. Now it’s time for a new chapter in Fuller online publishing, and the transition will begin February 1st.

Thanks to all who’ve read, commented and supported.


David Moore, editor