Frank Schaeffer Finds Heaven
Turns out it was out in the woods in western North Carolina. Who’d have thought?
Not just any place, of course. Schaeffer found the Kingdom of God at the “Wild Goose Festival,” a kind of hippies-come-to-Jesus gathering that the Institute on Religion and Democracy has been reporting on at its blog Juicy Ecumenism (here, here, and here). He describes his epiphany at The Huffington Post:
Last year’s WG was the first and there were about 1,300 of us there. This year we were closing in on 2000-plus. And now WG is West Coast bound too. The names of the speakers Jim Wallis and all the rest (I spoke 3 times) added up to a “draw” along with the big name musical performers. But the heart of the festival wasn’t in the events but in the conversations.
For me the highlight of the festival was the fact that there was no wall of separation between us speakers and performers and everyone there. I spent 4 days talking with lots of people from all over America and other places too, about ideas but also about very personal subjects. I met Ramona who was the cook at the Indian food stand and found she is ill and has no health insurance and I was able to connect her with a friend who knew a friend at the WG fest locally to help her get the full checkup she needs. I could do that because the festival was full of the sort of people who help, love and care so for once there was someone to call.
I’m sure that was all very pleasant, but the real reason why Schaeffer seems to have found heaven among the goslings is that in heaven, there are no evangelicals, conservatives, fundamentalists…you know, haters. (The title of his HuffPo piece is “Wild Goose Heaven Our Answer to Hate.” Subtle, huh?) Bart Gingerich of the IRD reports on Schaeffer’s presentation:
First, Schaeffer described the Wild Goose Festival as an event “where cynics like me feel at home.” He further cajoled his gaggle of eager listeners: “What we’re doing here is important since it is a political year…Christianity is more identified with the Republican Party than with Jesus Christ.” “Religion is less spiritual and politics is less pure,” he worried.
He described his journey from fundyland to…wherever he is now…in part this way:
Soon, the wild goslings heard Schaeffer credit his spiritual re-awakening to his granddaughter, Lucy. From her he learned about unconditional love, where he evidently could never get mad at her, no matter what she would do. He fondly told of his interactions and conversations with her. Schaeffer concluded that God must be the same way: always compassionate and never angry with human beings. He contrasted this revelation with the erroneous assumptions of fundamentalism: “If you disagree with me, you disagree with God. And—nothing personal—but you’ll burn forever in Hell.” In addition, he teased, “My fundamentalist friends, to put it bluntly, think I will go to Hell when I die. And I’m okay with that if they’re not going to be there.”
But inevitably, he came back to politics:
Eventually, Schaeffer took another gander at American politics. “I can’t fix the world, but I can go down fighting that Obama can get re-elected,” he exclaimed to eager applause. He proclaimed, “I think he’s one of the greatest presidents that America has ever had!” The speaker castigated liberal purists since the current executive “faces the most vile and hateful lies ever faced by an American president (and they dare not call it racism!), and you complain that he is not meeting all the checks on your list.” He asked, “Have you considered the alternative or are you clinically insane?” The “alternative” position Schaeffer described as “blow up the universe and sell it to Exxon to sell back to you.”
Yes, it is wonderful that there was no hate at Wild Goose. At least none that Frank Schaeffer could see.
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