Monday, August 12, 2013

Inspiration at The Wild Goose Festival

That's right, folks, I am just back from four days of hanging out with other justice-oriented followers of Jesus at The Wild Goose Festival in Hot Springs, NC.  Among other highlights, I particularly enjoyed hearing from Nadia Bolz-Weber, Brian McLaren, Phyllis Tickle, and Vincent Harding.  As always, the speakers at such an event challenge me to think about "doing church" in new ways.  My hope is to post a few blog posts over the coming weeks in response to some of the talks I heard.

For now, I'd like to reflect a bit on a talk that my wife and I attended entitled The Worst of the Scriptures: Why We Should Read It and What We Can Learn From It.  The speaker was a woman by the name of Amy Yoder McGloughlin who did a wonderful job of addressing the many and varied issues found in the disturbing words of Judges 19-20.  She challenged us to consider why the church avoids such disturbing stories in worship and in educational settings, especially when stories in the news of the contemporary world sometimes parallel such atrocities.  Conversations like that one remind me to not spend so much time on the questions of "Did it happen?" but rather to ask "Does it happen?"  In the case of mob violence, rape, torture, retributive violence, the answer to all is, "Yes, it does happen."  While not taking any definitive stand, Amy at least invited those assembled to think seriously about texts in which violence (especially retributive violence) is chalked up to the command/desire/will of God, and to reject those who use such texts to justify their own violent behavior.

While the workshop didn't really go there, my wife and I left that small tent by the French Broad River feeling more sure than ever that the current Revised Common Lectionary needs serious attention.  While I know there is a movement afoot to add a fourth year, I somehow doubt that stories such as those found at the end of Judges made the cut for the fourth year.  If there is to be a churchwide emphasis on truth telling, it makes one wonder just how far to take a lectionarial revolution.