I've tried to allow my thoughts and feelings to settle down a little before reflecting. I think three days is probably enough.
If you feel safe and secure in your own faith and belief there isn't a lot of harm you can come to at New Wine. You can enjoy the singing worship and pick the bits out of the talks and presentations without having to subscribe to the view that the only, the ONLY, way to respond to God is to go down the front and get ministered to by someone who will pray for you to have more Holy Spirit. I tended to pray quietly for a few moments and then slink off. I do not join the ministry team because I don't think that is what I understand by ministry.
I am quite reserved as an English man. I value this about my culture. I can get excited but it is for special occasions. I enjoy the fact that we don't, by and large, shout when someone treads on our toe in a shop. On the contrary we are more likely to apologise assuming we put our foot somewhere stupid. I appreciate this. In days of everything-rage it tends to slow most of us down before hitting people over the head. I like rocking crowds in rock events; I hate hyped up rocking crowds in other events. It reminds me of Kinnock's famous 1992 error, 'I shouldn't have inhaled (the atmosphere).'
If you are more liberal than most evangelical Christians you will have to cope with regular statements that the Bible is simply a matter of believing it, with no help or criteria to separate the drama from the fiction from the letters from the gospel from the history from the legend. There are exceptions. Simon Ponsonby, fast becoming the theologian of the charismatic movement, knows his Greek and his salvation history but I still don't get the God he sells who would only give his people more if they asked for it.
The only prayer really worth praying (IMHO) is 'Lord I'm listening.' If you hear the voice of God, through his word, through other people or through circumstances, fancy beginning even to imagine that he would call people and not equip them until they asked. It would be a like an army officer, seeing his battered and bloodied men return from the front, saying, 'I wondered when you were going to ask me for weapons; they're over there.'
I wish there was a libfest with lively worship, although we'd probably not get over agreeing on the words of the songs. Maybe they should all be instrumentals and we'd simply clap or dance?
Still I loved Mike Fuller's presentations on the complete history of the church and then western philosophy in fifty minutes. You can download the PowerPoints for these from his website. I will try and get to hear his other 50 minute specials on the Bible and the world's religions, some day.
Other seminars fell into the trap of being lectures; 75 minute ones in some cases. David Ruis' Bible studies on James in Venue 2 suffered greatly from his asides (he called them rabbits). On the penultimate day someone gave him a model gun and someone else offered him a fluffy fox. He would still not be distracted from his distractions. He faced an entire audience of 2000 people primally-screaming 'teach us'. Never came close. Bummer.
Ellie Mumford's love for Jesus shone forth. John Wright's deliberate and sensitive MCing of Venue 2 was a joy. Nick Page was a scream, with content. Baroness Caroline Cox's deserved standing ovation for her unique and lifelong commitment to the world's poor should not have been overshadowed by Charlie Cleverley's straining to get us to lament corporately and produce waves of tears. Again I slinked away to pray quietly.
The great thing about all this is that if you go with your church group you can talk through these things moment by moment and we did just that.
I don't think I will ever find a Christian festival at which I am not a piece of grit. I think it's the hand that's been dealt me. Back next year? You bet.