New Story Festival

March 5, 2019

New Story Festival, Same Progressive Christian Story

You’d think one Wild Goose Festival is enough, what with the drag Gospel performances and the “neo-pagan” cosmic mass. But unfortunately, there is a new progressive, “spiritually inclusive” festival that will meet March 29-31 in Austin, Texas.

The New Story Festival plans to be an annual gathering meant to “forge new community and share their unique gifts with one another—creating a better story for better lives and a better world,” according to the event website.

This year’s festival is gathering on the campus of Huston-Tillotson University, a private college affiliated with the United Methodist Church and United Church of Christ.

New Story’s website also notes many event organizers “are energized by the progressive Christian tradition, which recognizes the transcending presence of love everywhere.” Among the event organizers includes a Baylor graduate, Ph.D. Fuller Theological Seminary student, a United Methodist pastor, a Justice Doula, a Presbyterian minister, and a Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary grad who now works as a Human Rights Campaign street canvasser and prefers they/them self-identifying pronouns.

But lest you think this is a distinctly progressive Christian gathering where organizers hope to share the Gospel and see lives transformed, the website explains:

 [W]e seek to be spiritually inclusive, inviting anyone who shares these values, from any religious tradition (or none at all), to join in this community co-creating a better world. We mean it: whatever your tradition, we want you to be welcome here. This will not be an exclusively “Christian” or “religious” space. Rather it will be an open space where anyone is free to offer whatever gifts they have to share.

Two notable New Story headliners are Nadia Bolz-Weber and Brian McLaren. Recently Bolz-Weber has been busy melting purity rings into a golden vagina sculpture and promoting her new book Shameless: A Sexual Reformation. McLaren was a prominent guru within the Emergent Church movement and the author of A New Kind of Christianity.

The New Story Festival appears to be loosely partnered with the Wild Goose Festival, an annual progressive Christian gathering in Hot Springs, North Carolina. The New Story’s Creative Director Garreth Higgins is a co-founder of the Wild Goose Festival. It was through the Wild Goose listserv that I first learned of New Story Festival, and many of the photographs used on the event website were taken at the Hot Springs gathering.

New Story sessions offered at this year’s kick-off gathering are even reminiscent of Wild Goose sessions. Among the more intriguing New Story session titles are “Christian Responses to Confederate Statues,” “EcoTheism,” and “Reclaiming Your Faith: Taking Jesus Back from the Non-Affirming Church.” (I’m almost positive that I attended three sessions covering the same topics and with similar titles at Wild Goose Festival 2018.)

Few details are offered for why another Wild Goose-like event is in the works or even necessary. But perhaps one hint is the vague description, reading, “Believing that ‘the best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better,’ the New Story Festival seeks to lead us into a better story.”

It could be that the New Story’s seeming birth out of the Wild Goose Festival was triggered by the controversy surrounding North Carolina as an event location. The IRD’s Jeff Walton reported that some activists felt the state’s 2016 “bathroom bill,” presence of Confederate flags, and spotty cell phone reception in the rural area left Wild Goose participants feeling unwelcome and vulnerable.

Wild Goose Festival is set to resume this July in Hot Springs, North Carolina.

Perhaps New Story Festival’s location in Austin, a progressive oasis, offers a more comfortable, urban environment for social justice activists. One might also hope New Story can attract more than the typical older, white Mainline Protestant crowd found at Wild Goose Festival each year.

I’m skeptical. Besides the muddy campground and sweltering July heat, the New Story Festival sounds like the same tired old, Gospel-undermining progressive Christian gathering — and story — to me.

14 Responses to New Story Festival, Same Progressive Christian Story

  1. The wolves got too warm and took their sheep’s clothing off. These fakes aren’t even pretending anymore. The Bible teaches over 100 times that Jesus is the only way to salvation, but these people mock that truth while calling themselves Christians.

    Run, don’t walk, from the “Christian” Left. They are indistinguishable from the world, and anyone who follows them has no excuse.

  2. Michael Moore says:

    Once again, proof that Christianity and liberalism, like oil and water, don’t mix.

  3. The Constellation Never Change, We are a Motionless World & Everything We See Above, Revolves around us. We are like a Snow Globe, Firmament above Job 37:18 & Isaiah 40:22, Psalms 19:1-6 Sun runs Circuit above Circle Earth, Psalms 104:5 Motionless, Job 38:31-33 Constellations/Never Change. Why are the Churches Hiding God???

    • Mr. Valdez,

      I understand you to be saying that Biblical Christianity is changeless and finally irrelevant to a changing world. If that is the point, then it seems to me that left liberals are the ones who believe the world revolves around them and their ideas. Without a fixed star in our constellation, we don’t know who we are or what we are doing, and we now see so clearly with transgenderism.


      • Rick, Your reading into my Scriptures. I meant it All in a Physical Universal way. I went more into detail in the past two articles/comments. That fixed Star is the North Star, which proves my Point, Orion, Pleiades & All the rest of The Constellations, cannot exist on a floating ball theory! My Point is God wants us to Wake Up & Notice & take in the Beauty Above Your head. The Creator is Revolving Above us Stars/Moon/Sun. They’re All Energy Sources. Our Creators Gift. Mrs. Valdez

  4. Luke says:

    It’s all so pitiful. Progressive Christianity is basically a dozen “thought leaders” propped up by the support of the Boomer hierarchy of the mainlines who all want it to be 1968 again. It’s purely a top-down product and nobody is buying. My generation (millennials) are either affiliating with orthodox congregations or dropping out of church. There’s simply no appetite for “There is a God and She’s totally on board with 21st century secular progressivism.”

  5. Mike says:

    Having Bolz-Weber and McLaren as headliners tells you pretty much everything you need to know. Why don’t they invite Adam Hamilton as well?

  6. Charyl says:

    I think all of these touch feely “progressives” are stuck in Woodstock because they are still trippin’! Whether it is religion, politics or whatever else they feel a need to disrupt, dismantle or destroy, they do so because they can’t stand following the rules that were made at the very foundation of the Bible, the US Constitution or anything else they feel the need to. Go form your own fruit-loop club so you can have all the unity and diversity and far out crap you want.

  7. Andrew Hughes says:

    How these kind of people are crippling the truth of the Gospel and peoples entrance into that truth. Help them Lord.

  8. William says:

    Please leave us and go to the Unitarian Universalist Church or form your own progressive denomination. Bottom line, leave.

    • Matt says:

      And therein lies the rub: this has been the ongoing development of a new religious movement. I study and teach on world religions, and am fascinated by NRMs. I’d prefer that they went ahead and were straightforward on having made something new, rather than trying to colonize actual Christian communities.

      • Emanuelle says:

        But then the parasites wouldn’t be able to live off their host. They’d have to go out and fundraise themselves, support themselves, promote themselves. Why do that when they just live off other denominations’ largesse?

  9. Steve says:

    New Story Festival? I have a worship song idea…”Tell me the Old Old Story”

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