The moon is bright orange, hanging in the warm evening sky like an enormous gumdrop. Underneath it is a “village” of Christian festival-goers, housed in 100 colorful tents on a gently sloping Pennsylvania field about an hour north of Baltimore. Some of the villagers are roasting marshmallows. Others are pressed, mosh-pit style, against a makeshift stage, where an indie folk band named Theillalogicalspoon, which bills itself as “theologians and anarchists,” seems to be singing about everything but Jesus. One number ends: “If I had my way, I’d tear the whole thing down.”

So goes the PAPA (People Against Poverty and Apathy) Festival, “a convergence of communities and movements” run by young organizers mostly connected with Circle of Hope, a Brethren church in Philadelphia.

If you’re thinking this doesn’t sound like your typical Christian gathering, you’re right. Here, about 500 attendees, including myself and my 6-year-old daughter, will spend four days living in a communal paradise, listening to music, teaching one another crafts, and caring for the environment. Participants have brought food to share in the community kitchen — essentially a bunch of rigged-up camp stoves, coolers and tables under a tarp — and have built an open-air chapel from branches at the edge of the field, though not much seems to be happening there.

Instead, we have signed up for “skill shares,” where volunteers teach subjects such as basic Italian, how to dye yarn naturally (with fruits, vegetables and plants) and “integrating Christian spirituality and Apache shamanism to create healing and light.”

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