2016 Festival

Why I Hate Christian Fiction

By 2016 Festival, Guest Post

I am an out-and-proud Christian. So you would think I would love Christian fiction. But no, I can’t stand it. Oh, you’ve read some of it, too? So you know what I mean, then. The squeaky-clean protagonists give me hives. They don’t have any ACTUAL flaws, you know? And that’s just unrealistic. I mean, the Christians I know and love and worship with, week-in and week-out look nothing like the folks you find peopling the Left Behind series—unless we’re talking the bad guys, that is. No, we are seriously flawed individuals who often swear like longshoremen, and screw up in big ways on a regular basis.

And where are all the Gay and Lesbian people? Half of the folks in my church are GLBT folks. I’ve never read a Christian novel where I saw GLBT folks depicted as Christian heroes. I decided that since no one had ever published a book showing Christians as real folks—or at least Christians as I know Christians—I’d have to write it. So I wrote THE KINGDOM. And then I wrote a sequel, THE POWER. I’m working on THE GLORY now. Flawed characters? Check. Real people? Check. Love Jesus? Check. Badass demon hunters? Check. (Yeah, there’s a little bit of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the DNA of those books, too.)

Is it hard to get something like that published? You bet. It’s like Mark Heard said, “I’m too sacred for the sinners and the saints wish I would leave.” And that’s why I started the Apocryphile Press, because honestly, no one else is going to touch books like this with a ten-foot pole. We’ve got about 130 titles out, many of them pushing (or downright punching out) the envelope of “acceptable” Christian publishing norms. Last year we published a large-format art book called THE PASSION OF CHRIST: A GAY VISION, which shows scenes from Jesus’ last week, his crucifixion and resurrection—if Jesus were a young gay man living in the American South in the 1960s. I know that sounds kind of out there, but in fact this book is stunningly beautiful and deeply moving.

We publish anything Steve Case wants to write, because he’s just a wacky good writer—check out his incredible FR. DARK to see what I mean. We also just published a bold new study of the book of Revelation called THE APOCALYPTIC GOSPEL by Justin Staller that has people buzzing.

So in between the awesome speakers and the awesomer music, please stop by our booth and check out our books. Steve Case, Justin Staller, and myself will be there. We’re giving away free ebook copies of THE KINGDOM and FR. DARK, we’ll be signing books, and selling them. We also promise to be insufferably silly. Most of all, I’m interested in hearing your book ideas—because we specialize in the kinds of books other publishers are afraid of. We are especially interested in Christian fiction that depicts real Christians—folks like you and me—as we actually are, warts and all, not as some idealized role models.

I want Apocryphile to specialize in BADASS CHRISTIAN FICTION. We’ve got a good start on that already. I figure Wild Goose is the PERFECT place to find folks who’d like what we publish, and who write the kinds of books we’d LIKE to publish. So do you have a book for us?

John R. Mabry

How big is that tent, exactly?

By 2016 Festival, Guest Post

Guest post by Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, IN

Since our founding in 1855, Christian Theological Seminary has leaned toward the right side of history. We have been inclusive, ecumenical and respectful of all traditions and faiths. Founded as a school that assured “students attending it would not be brought into contact with the habits and manners that exist in populations where slavery exists,” CTS has continued to stand in solidarity with those whom history tries to leave behind. We were among the first theological schools to grant tenure to a woman, and we sheltered a faculty member of Japanese descent during the terrible period of US internment camps during WWII.

But our convictions are tested all the time. The latest? Whether to go to the Wild Goose Festival this year, because it’s being held in North Carolina—a state that just passed one of the nation’s most heinous anti-LGBT bills.

Don’t worry, Wild Goose: we’re coming. After all, we’re from Indiana—a state that’s neck-deep in hateful laws. What right do we have to call out North Carolina?

But that’s the dilemma of being a Christian, isn’t it? Our convictions are constantly tested. And at this stage in history, we may be facing one of the biggest tests of all.

We are among the Christians who believe in a “big-tent,” “embracing” and “tolerant” expression of faith. The tent we pitch is big enough for people of all faiths. But is it big enough for candidates who use hate to curry votes, legislators who work to limit school lunches for poor children, gun owners who quote the Bible to justify “stand-your-ground” laws?

Can we forgive these people? We try. Can we pray for them? We do. Can we learn how to include them in the tent, while also protecting those who are hurt by their actions? We are working on it.

Can we talk about all this at Wild Goose Festival? We will. See you there!

True Story

When potential students apply to Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, they tell us about themselves. High GPAs. Terrific references. Years of devotion to their home churches.

But it’s not until they’ve settled in a bit — when they get through orientation, move into their apartments, go to class — it’s not until then that the true stories come out. Stories of joy, hope, support, epiphanies. Stories of abuse, loss, shame, doubt.

Novelist E. M. Forster used this example to show the difference between facts and a story:

The king died, and the queen died.
The king died, and the queen died of grief.

Jesus’s story is full of joy, hope, support, epiphanies, abuse, loss, shame, and doubt. No wonder we connect to it, are transformed by it, seek to follow his “way.”

We can’t wait to swap stories with old friends and new at Wild Goose Festival this year.

Seminaries, Roads and Stories that become what Everything is About

By 2016 Festival, Guest Post

Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary (PLTS) is excited to be at Wild Goose! Located in Berkeley, CA, it is a little tiny bit like Wild Goose all year long.

There is a story behind every person who comes to seminary, and each story is different. As the Director of Admissions, I get to hear a lot of those stories. I live and work at PLTS. Our campus is in kind of a funny location. Berkeley is funny just on its own, being the birthplace and epicenter of the free speech movement in the 1960’s. The campus is located 8 blocks up the steepest hill a road could be on, Originally intended for a trolley, this road is how Google will tell you to get there, but your car might really fight it. But it’s not the only way to get there.

In fact, the Berkeley hills are made up of a myriad of winding roads and pathways and staircases between people’s homes. You can pass lots of interesting things on the way, like the morning we passed a person having nude pictures taken of herself on some steps.

I’ve been thinking of those multiple roads as a good metaphor for how people come to understand their life story, their calling in life–which sometimes leads to seminary, and sometimes leads a million other places. Or sometimes lead to a million other places and then to seminary. Or sometimes lead to seminary and then to endless other places. Sometimes people wander a bit–up roads that are windier but not quite as hilly. Which path is better is really not the question. God is on all of those paths, and it is your own journey. Each journey has a story to tell.

And along the way of any road there are stories told, like the story in the sacred text of the Bible, where the guys are walking on the road to Emmaus, telling stories about all the things that had taken place in Jerusalem. Then Jesus, telling stories of the prophets, begins to make sense of the stories they are telling, and those stories become what everything is about.

When a person finds themselves at seminary, more stories happen: In the classroom, in coffee shops, during classes and protests and late-night end-of-the-semester paper-writing, new friendships are made, new understandings are born, and new experiences continue to shape a story that becomes what everything is about.

And then, trained as faithful leaders for a future unknown, people are sent out, ready. There is a story in front of every person who comes out of seminary too, which continues to become what everything is about.

Think about bringing your own story, and finding out what comes next.

Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary: A place for forward-thinking faithful leaders to engage in open-minded, interfaith study to prepare for faithful leadership in an evolving church and world. Come and talk to us about our story. PLTS is a graduate program of California Lutheran University, a seminary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and part of the largest interreligious theological consortium in the world–the Graduate Theological Union (GTU). Come ask us about it!




Twitter: @PLTSofCLU

Holly Johnson and Christa Compton will be there!

HollyJohnson_300pxHolly Johnson, Director of Admissions at PLTS, is also a graduate and pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She loves live music, poetry, blurring the lines between sacred and secular, good food, good wine, and she’s a little thrilled that she gets to be at the Festival and call it work. @MinnesotaHolly @PLTSofCLU




ChristaCompton_300pxChrista Compton is a graduate of PLTS, and current pastor in New Jersey. She also likes music, poetry, literature, good food and wine. She describes herself as a southern woman who likes to defy stereotypes. @ChristaCompton

Spring Ticket Special

By 2016 Festival, Goose News

The Goose is calling! As Spring is emerging, our thoughts are turning to Hot Springs and summer. Hugs from old friends, making new ones, a little rain, a little humidity, raising a beer as we sing a hymn…..finding something new in our soul!

Spring Ticket Special , March 20 – June 19, 2016
Adult – $249.00
Senior 65+ – $169.00
Student – $125.00
Youth 13-17 – $75.00
Children 0-12 – Free

June 20 – Festival
Adult – $299.00
Senior 65+ – $169.00
Student – $125.00
Youth 13-17 – $75.00
Children 0-12 – Free

Group of 10+
Adult – $169.00
Senior 65+ – $149.00
Student – $99.00
Youth 13-17 – $49.00
Children 0-12 – Free
Contact Mary at for promo code

Triple GRAMMY® Nominee Matt Maher to Play the 2016 Wild Goose Festival

By 2016 Festival, Goose News

matt maherMatt Maher, a Grammy nominated musician whose latest release, Saints and Sinners is a call for social justice rooted in the work of historic faith leaders such as Archbishop Oscar Romero, Martin Luther King Jr., St. Therese of Lisieux, and Mother Teresa, joins the 2016 Wild Goose opening night experience! Many Goose faithful have been asking for Matt for years and we’re excited that we’re finally able to get it done!

Matt is up for three GRAMMY® nominations in tonight’s 58th Annual GRAMMY Awards. He was nominated twice in the “Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song” category and his album, Saints and Sinners, was nominated for “Best Contemporary Christian Music Album.”

Here’s Matt giving the backstory of Sons & Daughters one of the song and his self-described centerpiece of the album:

Moving to Nashville, the South, I encountered a greater understanding that so much of the American tradition of music was born out of the slavery movement- rock ‘n’ roll, gospel, country, R&B, hip-hop. It all goes back to a group of people who were enslaved and who desired freedom. I had been wanting to write a song based on the speech ‘We Shall Overcome’ by Dr. Martin Luther King. I asked a buddy of mine – fellow worship leader and songwriter Ike Ndolo, who grew up in Columbia, Missouri – to write with me.

I took what we had started, and asked Ike to, ‘Draw from your experience as an African-American male living in the shadow of the civil rights movement still praying for all those things to bear their fruit.’ It’s really the job of the church today to finish what was started in the ’60s. Just because you can outlaw racial discrimination doesn’t mean you get rid of it. This heart behind this song was to inspire other people. I have to think that there are other leaders in the church right now who have a burden on their heart to help lead a movement like this. I think it’s the centerpiece of the whole record; it’s a really special moment.

Root for Matt at tonight’s Grammy’s, buy your Wild Goose tickets, tell others about the Goose, and get ready for a wild time this July 7 through 10 in Hot Springs, NC!

Son & Daughters (Lyrics)

How free is anyone, when some are still in chains
Slaves to brokenness, all this blindness
How free is anyone, when all these doubts remain
In the dead of night, no sign of the light
Child don’t grow weary, soon we will see the sun
All my brothers help each other
All my sisters walk together
No one is a stranger
We’re all sons and daughters
Join hands with everyone, don’t you hear the song we sing
Oh there might be tears, but we are more than our fears
We are marching on, but there’s a price we have to pay
For love means taking on, the weight of what was won