Deception at the Wild Goose Festival?

What’s the most insidious danger that’s awaiting you at The Wild Goose Festival?  Deception.

Most likely, if you attend this annual event, you’ll learn that you’ve already been deceived.

“Everything is backwards; everything is upside down. Doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, universities destroy knowledge, governments destroy freedom, the major media destroy information, and religions destroy spirituality.”  ~Michael Ellner


You won’t “get” deceived at the Wild Goose Festival.  You’ll realize that you’ve already “been” deceived for a long long time.  The ‘thing‘ you’ve been waiting for, that ‘revival’ that’s ‘coming,’ someday…is here now, and has been rolling since 2011 and gaining momentum and altitude. You’ve been sold a ‘someday’ theology on something that’s already happening – and you are missing out!

I hate camping too, but I’m coming around…and there seems to be something embedded in my Christian DNA that reminds me that occasionally we should get away and dwell in booths (tents) as we prepare ourselves for something significant.  I do think you can do it, and from my perspective standing at the gates and talking with about (bare minimum) 600 people this year, you probably have no excuse unless you require constant medical attention.


We had attendees with wheelchairs (camping even!), service animals, crutches, and there are cabins and luxury bed & breakfast options nearby.  The young in mind and the young in body attended, along with the aging and the soon-to-be born.  One group rode bicycles to the festival and one of them was seven months pregnant.  You are without excuse in this – you should make an effort to attend next year.

All that’s expected of you is to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly (Micah 6:8) or as we say in the modern vernacular; get involved, drop your guard, and let the Goose fly. #wildgoose14

Read even more about the festival here.


Three Goose Eggs:  000 / They’ve Got NOTHING! An Undercover Expose from INSIDE #wildgoose14

I am your objective embedded roving reporter – undercover for my third year at the Wild Goose Festival.

My history? My credentials?
I’m highly analytical, and I started tracking this from outside the ‘camp.’  Here’s my brief synopsis of the first festival from 2011.  I attended that one by buying tickets and staying far away in a hotel, with my eyes wide-open and my Christian ‘radar’ running at 200%, looking everywhere for whatever nuances, details, and flaws the rest of the attendees might miss.

The following year in 2012, I attended by ‘tabling’ for Christian Vegetarian Association, but there wasn’t really anything significantly different to add from that perspective – so I didn’t write an update.  {It’s easier to take care of your contributors and sponsors, so I guess that experience was ‘as expected’ and un-eventful without drama or conflict.}  I missed the west-coast event and I missed the 2013 festival too…my daughter went alone and loved volunteering, so this year I volunteered, camped, and NOW my in-depth analysis is finally COMPLETE.

I’m sharing my critical conclusions and Christian judgements, drawing the plumb-line, and revealing the unseen side.

If you want to know what this thing is really about, I’ll try to articulate that, and give you the ‘skinny,’ the view from ‘behind the scenes,’ and the ‘low-down dirty truth’ about this relatively new thing called The Wild Goose Festival.


000: Three Goose Eggs
I’m finishing this summary, on Monday 30th of June 2014, after a comprehensive investigation of all-things “Goose,” and the simplest way to describe it is 000.

“000” is a familiar term, known to sportsmen and buyers of shot-guns, as “Triple Aught.”

When buying a shells for maximum devastation – triple aught (000 Buckshot) is what you’re looking for.  The Wild Goose Festival is 000…three big Goose Eggs.

0 – Aught Division: Sacred Trust and Respectful Diversity
There seems to be no division here. What’s wrong with that?  NOTHING.

The lines that divide and separate us culturally and religiously become very ‘thin’ in the brightness of the glory that is ‘The Goose,’ and we all become one family. The exclusions and the blemishes become insignificant as we all merge into one fold. The concept of openness and variety seems to work extremely well with every other cultural adventure like community, university, and family. This recipe is delicious and it’s refreshing to have the freedom to safely mingle with so many people and still maintain the momentum and energy of your own faith journey.

The church’s “best recipe” attitude over the last hundred years has always been narrowed in the sense that “allowing differences” to the ‘inside’ will unleash a flood of unwanted people, practices, and beliefs – as if there weren’t already diverse tribes, behaviors, and quirky values already in the pot. {Examples being: “Letting women speak will mean they’re running the show.” “Letting blacks in will mean they’ve taken over.” “Letting multicultural marriages take place will defile the altar.”}

The senselessness of this worldview reaches epic proportions in light of today’s awareness of history – we know there were always people in the ranks who disagreed with these injustices.

It was only 47 years and a few days ago {Loving v. Virginia} that the Supreme Court finally made multi-cultural marriage legal, so it’s not hard to understand why we still struggle accepting differences – especially when we as a church tend to major on minors, and fracture the religion across every imaginable set of flavor profiles by debating nuanced variations of ancient sacred technologies like justice, spirituality, music, and art.


There’s no need to have a church for black people only, or women only, or people who only believe that Jesus was an alien.  It’s not necessary to write a book with everything in the margins and completely blank in the middle of every page. That’s the fundamentally flawed, fear-based, prejudice-fueled, propaganda from a starving church who refuses to warm her heart to any differences in the people of the world.

Taking a welcoming approach, simply means that you seek out similarity in everyone – and somehow trust God (or the Universe), that you’ll find it.

It’s not possible to compete with Jesus in building the church, because there’s no one who can fill those shoes, no one who can fill the Buddha’s shoes, no one who can fill Mother Theresa’s shoes… (“I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail…”)  Trying to assemble a team of “same-ness” rather than inviting the “other,” places you in a competing role against Jesus and I guarantee that your church will fail – it will eventually develop a country club mentality of exclusivity and a pride that precedes its’ fall.

As I see it , the imperative objective here, is to err on the side of the underprivileged and begin to reach out to those in your world who are marginalized. Having a living church, actively engaged in the worlds of education, arts, government, and business ‘should’ mean that they fight to ensure that everyone gets a voice, a safe place, and a ‘piece of the action’ to earn a fair share for their efforts. The fact that the current practices of fighting for every scrap are so embedded culturally, is evidence that we have a systemic flaw in the spiritual foundation that must be repaired or surgically removed.

00 – Aught Religion: Pre-Meditated Coalescence with “The Other”

Wild Goose is a brief cease-fire of all competing brands, when we can come together to learn and enjoy each others’ company.  What’s wrong with that?  NOTHING.  Religious movements tend to begin with differences as a way to identify themselves and those unique flavors are used to create a ‘brand’ which then leads to a new name, a new belief, and a new movement. This is a fatally flawed model, because the splintering of spirituality is exactly why we often fail to meet community needs, in virtually every town in the nation. Since everyone is working similarly, yet separately; no one is willing (or able) to work together. I think The Goose can play a part in this healing and reparation of “alike but different,” because here we can celebrate this collision without conflict. The festival is incredibly relevant because of the inherent ability to connect such variety and maintain a conversational non-confrontational temporary community.

The church hasn’t historically lost relevance in hundreds of years, so it’s critical that she remain able to communicate with the entire culture – and that requires change; painful, dreadful, inevitable…change.

The present state of sheltered hatred in the church is deeply rooted and must be completely drawn out, because too many people in the church already have family members married to the “other,” and have examples of the “other” in their work or community circles and yet somehow maintain civility and friendships.

Some of those proper church folk even have blood relatives who represent the “other.” Miraculously, the awkward Thanksgiving dinners weren’t the end of the world. They started with minor discomfort but now they’ve grown into hospitable gatherings to celebrate and enjoy together.  The transition from religion to reality is one that incorporates an uncomfortable acceptance of flaws – internal and external, and it includes an apologetic stance for all those we’ve hurt in the process, regardless of where we drew those lines.

Are you really ready to move from hostility to hospitality?  When you do, you’ll stop seeing the “other” person as the enemy.  The Wild Goose Festival is a glimpse over the horizon at a brilliant new day that’s dawning and I hope we can all swim out toward it and enjoy that warmth in our lifetimes.  If you want to bring your religion and retain your traditions, they are welcome and honored in this place. If you want to become part of this interesting new humanity, it’s only a three day annual event at this point, so you can prepare for next year and get yourself ready. No one wants to make you into anything other than a part of this full-spectrum, respectful, open-conversation where critical-mass can be reached when reality is realized and drama is minimized.

These environments are precious to me, because here you can be yourself, have fun, and enjoy the party.

000 – Aught Imitation: The Goose is Special and Unique
No one has tried anything like this before, and it’s nearly impossible to pull-off something this complex without offending everyone involved, yet the Goose is managing to maintain excellence and harmony while gaining altitude.  What’s wrong with that?  NOTHING.  There’s a tent city, like Occupy but there are showers – if you like waiting in line. There’s an unusually balanced mix of morning people and night owls. There’s something special about ditching the church clothes and lingo – and exchanging them for sweat and truth. There’s a charging station for your mobile devices, strangely close to a rushing river so your soul is renewed while you wait. There are people everywhere and yet there are so many opportunities to find a place of meditative solitude here that it’s almost magical.

Words and phrases probably cannot do justice to this festival, but there are some that protrude highly above the rest and stand-out: Different. Exhausting. Exhilarating. Mindful. Freedom. Creativity. Safety. Hope. Trust. Connection. Community. Confusing. Exciting. Hot. Wet. Refreshing. Relevant. Significant. Energizing!

Those TV shows where a bunch of dissimilar people are trapped on an island, and begin to exploit each other’s differences and weaknesses are probably the normal human response. The Goose effectively reverses that polarity and causes a motley crew to support and defend each other instead. In this way, the Wild Goose is absolutely unique.

Maybe it works because so many desperate people have been hungry for so long that they decided to fend for themselves, and maybe it’s simply an indicator of an age that’s coming. In either case, it’s worth a little discomfort (camping) to be a small part of everything that’s happening for three or four days each year.



Summarizing A Few Statistics:
Here are a few interesting statistics from the 2014 Wild Goose Festival that might better explain why I value the currency of this community so highly.

The view from 10,000 feet remains the same for me…I can find absolutely nothing negative to say about this thing. (The prince of this world cometh, and he has nothing in me.) Standing with a gavel in my hand, from behind the judge’s bench I can find no fault in these geese. (I find in them, no fault at all.) There’s nearly always a strong magnetic attraction within something this large, wherein one can locate something to criticize or find faults. There’s nothing here to see…enjoy the ride, because there are no terrorists on this plane.

I’ve profiled everyone and they are innocent seekers of truth, like me, like you.

It rained plenty. More than I was ready for, but less than my tent could manage (thank goodness). I saw someone at the First-Aid tent smiling in the rain, while their hurt ankle was being attended to, by pleasant volunteers. I walked past children in the mud, whose parents were with them saying they’d be playing there until the mud ran out, or until the kids got tired. By Saturday night, when everyone on staff ‘should’ have been completely fried…I observed production managers smiling and mingling socially in the crowds, and even later watched the operations manager dancing in the front row at Main Stage. Even when they have just cause to act frustrated, they remain joyous, and peaceful. There’s no story to tell here, except the absence of drama.

Without Division > Without Religion > Without Imitation:
0 – Division: There is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female…all is one.
00 – Religion: Walls of division become invisible and permeable for a few days in this place where religion yields to relationship.
000 – Imitation: There’s nothing else like this – you’ll have to taste and see for yourself.


20¢ – This is how much it cost the festival to provide a gallon of filtered purified water to festival attendees for free.
$20 – This is how much money my son earned as a tip, for carrying someone’s cooler, suitcase, and a bunch of chairs to their car at the end of the weekend.
20 Conversions – There were 20 conversions at the Beer & Hymns event.

00: Double Aught Approach to Soul Salvation
0 – Hype: Those conversions were not hyped, announced, or promoted.
0 – Altar Calls: These people preach without words, and it seems to be working.

1/1/1: Some Random Observations
1 – Racist Cured: I asked one young lady why she came to the festival and she said, “My mom’s been here for two days now, and she’s not a racist anymore!”
1 – Megaphone & Protestors: There was a protestor present outside the festival with a megaphone who wanted to promote the fact that Christ bled and died for our sins. (Most people were unaware of the presence of a small group of protestors, but I think they were protesting the fact that there may have been gay people at the event.) This type of protest represents plenty of people who disagree with the idea that we can be different together. I spoke with someone who met that protestor and had offered to buy him lunch – that is how we respond to those who disagree or hate us, and that’s pretty cool!
1- Internet: Apparently,the entire town of Hot Springs, NC shares the same internet subscription because it’s dreadfully slow (like…dial-up) until about 1:00am, when there’s a chance of sending a short email from your campsite. This is a blessing for most of us, who activated out-of-office notifications that said “camping” and changed our voice-mail greetings to tell people “don’t leave a message, just send an email so the rest of those who want a piece of me can hear this greeting too.”


Getting Your Goose: What the flock!?!
Everyone is welcome, and everyone is respected. Something about this methodology cuts to the quick, in a nation filled with churches that take a completely different approach.

At the very least, I think you should dip your toes into the ‘mud puddle’ that is this ongoing spiritual experiment.  

It’s not like joining a church, and seen in terms of a ‘movement,’ this one creeps along at a snail’s pace – just three days each year. You can spare that much time – oh, yes you can. If not, perhaps you’d consider coming for just one entire day and staying until the bitter midnight end for a significant slice of the action? Even if you have no idea what the heck this particular gathering might mean to your faith, it could make a difference in hope you relate to the world. You’ll be glad you did. Crazy things happen. Miracles, even.

For some attendees; this might be the only chance to meet you in a safe environment where you don’t threaten or frighten them away with your gospel tracts, your crew cut, your tats, your piercings, or your dreads.  Here in the demilitarized zone known as The Goose, we can have a civil conversation about anything. We can disagree and still appreciate that difference in perspective for what it is – a perspective, an interpretation, and a view.

Spirituality is being re-animated here, not re-invented.

There’s no cause for alarm, and no need to be afraid of the implications. These world-changers are here because they care, not because they want to tear down anything you’ve built. The world is changing and they are ready to face the challenges of tomorrow head-on, eyes-open, and hearts-awake, with or without you. The world is theirs, not mine, and certainly not yours. The next generation is always the one that has the attention of the Lord, and God’s smiling and winking at this group with anticipation.

Just before posting this, I re-read my original article for historical analysis and nothing has changed from an observational perspective – everything is flowing faster, smoother, and operations are improving here, while the rest of the church might be dying on the vine, things are kicking into high-gear at The Goose.

I don’t know where The Goose is going, but I know where she’s been, and I want to see this flock continue to grow and flourish.  I want this campfire to burn like a field of flax.

I love what’s happening and I think it’s going to take these three things to make it work: time, effort, and money.


This one is practically baked in – things like this either fizzle-out over time, or they season themselves into perfection like wine.

This Goose got her legs in 2011 and I think she got her wings while I was absent – somewhere between the western event and the venue change to Hot Springs, NC last year.

At this point, critical mass is inevitable. Cultural engagement is imminent. These people will change their world for better or worse one day, and I want to be a part of that brave new world because I really believe they are right.

There’s an incredible amount of blood, sweat, and tears behind something that has so much depth, scale, and field of vision. Those efforts cannot be bought with wages or enticed with titles. In order to get this much done with the number of workers present, it takes passion, desire, and compassion with a focus on the ultimate objective of excellence.

If you’ve participated and enjoyed the ride, you might want to consider volunteering next year.

You’ll get in for free if you work enough to offset the ticket, and you’ll make friends that might just convince you the world isn’t as cynical, corrupt, and screwed-up as you originally thought. If you already volunteered, I’d like to ask you to think of ways to make an even bigger investment and improvement in the next festival – whether you volunteer again or not.

As the saying goes, you have to ‘put your money where your mouth is,’ and I have to admit, it’s the hardest thing for me to do, personally.

I’ve given a few bucks at the past events, but that was really more like tipping the servers at a restaurant. After tasting the goods, I wanted to show my appreciation.

Now, I think it’s time to pay it forward. There are several ways to make financial commitments or one-time donations, and I sincerely wish you would, because I’m hard to persuade, and I am convinced – this thing is important and it’s the real deal.

There’s NOTHING wrong here…it’s safe, and healthy.  I hope to see you next year!  {If you do attend, be ready for the revelation of deception.}

#‎wildgoose14‬ ‪#‎livingliberation‬ ‪#‎onlyatwildgoose


Saying the Same Thing

Naturopathic principles can be found in places where you’ve probably been overlooking them all along.

Here’s an example of the same belief that the body’s digestion is the secret source of health:

“Man is not nourished by what he swallows, but by what he assimilates.” —Hippocrates

“If the digestion is strong enough, a poison can become food.” — Ayurvedic Principle

“They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” — Jesus, as quoted in the KJV

When we look closely, we have to conclude that truth is truth, and many of the voices that most of us listen to – are saying the same things.  Health is built on nutrition, and feeding the body with things that can be used to build and rebuild its’ cells is the “secret-sauce.”  Trying to force the human body to use indigestible oils (with flatulent side-effects), or tricking it with sweeteners that are designed in a chemistry lab and not found in nature, solely for the purpose of weight management – are likely to end in poor digestion and poor health.

It’s Better To Be Nice

Too often, we rage, rant, and rave against the wrong people.

Wars effect the least of a population first – nations focus weapons against regimes and dictators but it’s the sick, the poor and the elderly who suffer first and suffer worst.

Another business principle extracted from the tales of Jesus, is that we should respond in kindness – especially when those helpless victims are the ones who may be hurting us, through no choice of their own.  Look closely at the story of Peter’s sword-swinging, ear-chopping defense of Jesus, when the guards came to take him:

“Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.” ~John 18:10, KJV

Now, consider this perspective:

“…the victim of the violence is identified as the slave of the high priest.  A slave is someone who does not act independently but only under orders.  It would be unusual to arm a slave, especially if armed men were already present.  The victim of Peter’s sword is, quite possibly, an unarmed man who had no choice about being there in the first place.” ~Gospeled Lives: Encounters with Jesus, A Lenten Study by John Indermark.

How can we apply the wisdom of Christ in our modern lives?  I think we should examine the way we treat similar people every single day.  Maybe you don’t realize it, but you’re interacting and conducting business with people who are “just following orders,” with as must innocence as the slave in the story of Jesus’ abduction.  It’s better to be nice to them, and treat them like they matter – they are (after all), there to serve you.

  • The waitress (She’s at the mercy of the kitchen, and only delivers what they produce.)
  • The cashier (Even when s/he is having trouble with your return.)
  • The telemarketer (I know…this one cuts deep.)

I have a really difficult time eating with people who are rude to the servers in restaurants…it’s hard for me to ever think well of someone who’s a jerk to a complete stranger.  I’m not alone, because many job interviews are conducted over meals simply to observe how you interact with others.  {Theres also a legend of Henry Ford, not hiring someone who salted their food before tasting it.}

Being pleasant is better than presenting yourself as a grumpy or arrogant customer.  Appreciation goes a long way toward getting what you want, and it’s better to acknowledge that you’re in charge of yourself and your emotions, rather than defaulting to visible anger that creates a “get rid of this idiot,” objective from someone’s manager.

Bottom line: sugar goes further than salt, so you’ll stand a better chance of getting what you want if you help the other person maintain their dignity by respecting them.

Someone’s Out of Touch

This won’t be an attack of the famous Chick-fil-A leadership process, or their fantastic training program that’s part of a proven American success story.  


I do want to voice some criticism based on my observations and  I sincerely hope that someone else can learn from their mistakes.

If a manager’s looking for someone to work the closing shift, why force them to interview from 8-10am in the morning?

Taking applications: CLOSING SHIFT.  Apply 8-10am only.

In case you don’t already know, no one can survive on minimum wage.  It should be expected that everyone you’re interviewing is already working another job (part-time or possibly even full-time).  It’s irresponsible, lazy, disrespectful and self-destructive to ignore the responsibilities of others.  Hundreds of candidates might be available to close the restaurant, but also unable to interview when it’s “convenient” for you as a manager.

If you really want to make a difference in the community, look again at the Golden Rule, and try to understand that you’re not the almighty engine of economic revitalization in your city…but if you choose to be a Linchpin leader, you might make a difference for one person at a time.

Finding the right person might require you to interview them in the time-slot that you expect them to work.

Generation of Zombies or Community of Vampires?

A. W. Tozer wrote that our culture was devolving into a generation of zombies, and we couldn’t agree more. Today, the majority is composed of mindless zombies, and we estimate that only about 5% of the population are vampires.

“Secularism, materialism, and the intrusive presence of things have put out the light in our souls and turned us into a generation of zombies. We cover our deep ignorance with words, but we are ashamed to wonder, we are afraid to whisper ‘mystery.’” ~A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy / HarperCollins, 1961 (p. 18).

If humankind has become infected with sin (like zombies), then the consequences of that defect will be quickly amplified and accelerated through the entire culture. Modern society has been pushed onto that long, long, winding road of commerce and immorality. (In this way, we may have proven Tozer correct.) In Tozer’s day, thinkers could be found in institutions of higher learning, in pulpits, and in pews. Thinking is fast becoming a lost art in the modern era. Churches fill with thoughtless “sheeple” who will show-up, sit-down, and soak-in whatever doctrines are proclaimed…blindly assuming they represent pure truth, never questioning anything. A generation of zombies will spread their culture throughout the populace by contact; through infectious touch.

Our alternative is to build and support a community of vampires.
The difference? Choice, Boundaries, & Virtues:

Choice is not an element of the zombie program: “zombie-ism” can be forced by coercion or violence. Choice is powerful and significant for a vampire…a vampire cannot enter your home without an invitation. If you desire anything from a vampire encounter, you’ll have to request it by inviting the vampire across the threshold of your door.

There are boundaries and absolutes that surround and permeate the culture of the vampire, from their diet to sleeping habits. Becoming a vampire merely extends and empowers the virtues that you already had; it doesn’t create new rules or vices. The transformation to vegan vampire represents full spiritual ignition. As a proper guest, the spirit will not violate the rules of the host, whose virtues and values will support the nobility and integrity of the new creation.

If you want to be a better person, you CAN…and the foundation that comes from being a vegan vampire can support all of those improvements: physical, emotional, and spiritual.

Tinker, Tailor, Pastor, Spy

When you focus on something, you tend to see it everywhere!

“People tend to think spies are motivated by love of the game, desire for adventure, or patriotic fervor. The truth though, is that you don’t choose a life as a covert operative unless something deeper is going on beneath the surface. Something more personal, something harder to explain, and something a lot more painful.” ~Michael Weston, Burn Notice: Season 5, Episode 5.

The truth about the ministry is that many times very well meaning and good hearted ministers are asked to counsel, encourage, and support people who might be better served in other settings. There are times when legal advice, financial aptitude, and even police protection are needed but the pastor is the first person contacted. This makes the ministerial profession a challenging arena that should be avoided by everyone seeking to gain prestige, power, or a platform to sell books. Even when these characteristics accompany the function, they are always buffered by the midnight calls from hysterical parents in a hospital emergency room praying their child lives to see the dawn, the cries of an abused spouse who’s walked barefoot in snow to seek help, and the frenetic disorder of lives ripped asunder by any number of unpredictable circumstances.

I have served in three local churches for over two decades (never as the focal leader, but often in pastoral function) and I have seen things that are best reserved for the movies. People tend to think that ministers will believe anything, but the opposite is true. Most are astute at detecting deception, from years of hearing lies. It is important to note that none of us is near perfect, and we would do better to expect humanity rather than divinity when seeking ministerial support. Ministry functions to direct us to the divine, not to embody Christian refinement while scrutinized 24/7. There are always deeper issues, deeper reasons why people serve in the priesthood or in the ministry, and often it’s personal. Don’t be surprised if you’re disappointed somewhere along the way, but realize that people fall from pedestals because we placed them there.