Friday, August 20, 2004

Coming Attraction

Just about two years ago I decided to restart this blog. I have managed to post at least a few times a month and often several times a week. (My original target was at least once a day. So much for good intentions.) What got me blogging again was looking at pictures from the 2002 Burning Man festival, which is coming up again over the Labor Day weekend at Black Rock Desert in Nevada. I started to collect a couple of links and started an article, but never finished it. I think it is time to put all this together and get it posted.

I try to watch for signs in the world around us of spiritual hungers not being met, and what people are doing to try to meet them. I think Burning Man (BM) presents us with a rich display, if we care to look.

My basic approach is to split up my research and writing into roughly four or five essays, with at least three of them to come before the Burn this year.

  • What is Burning Man? -- a view of the event and it's history, in particular how it has been seen in the various media.
  • BM as Post-Modern Event -- one of the founders of BM has given a number of interviews on the festival as post-modern art and experience. An exploration of what may be the intent, social significance and meaning of BM.
  • A Pastor at BM -- an pastor has been attending BM, and he has some unique insights into the event, and the place of God there.
  • My Reflections -- my own summing up, as someone who has never been there, and probably for good medical reasons, never will go. (I am having to say that more and more -- very strange.). I am starting to think that this may be more than one part, with reflections and what may be lessons on evangelism as separate segments. These may well be after the event this year, and incorporate what happens this year.
I have one very important point that should be made before I get started. A lot of things go on at Burning Man, things that are not consistent with Christian practice in almost any sense. Public nudity and occasional sexual activity, recreational drug use, a variety of religious practices including some activities that Christians might find offensive are clearly part of BM. It is a "temporary autonomous zone" where anything goes and anything can be questioned or mocked, including persons and symbols that we as Christians hold sacred. This is not an event that you should schedule for your next parish youth group event. A lot goes on there that, if I were there, I would just not do. Even if I could. Don't even think that I am endorsing everything that goes on there -- but I am not going to be spending a lot of time trying to judge or condemn it either. That is not the point to this examination.

BM is also an event that includes sublime art and temporary architecture, tremendous creativity, and an important alternative view of how human society can work. I think we can see some of the deep human needs that are not being met in our culture here in the west, needs that the Church must address.

Updates: I will post links to each of the individual posts as they go up
Out in the Desert - an introduction to Burning Man
Growth of the Man - how the festival started, and the challenges it faces
Postmodern Man - word from founder Larry Harvey about the basic ideas behind the festival
Christ on the Playa - spirituality, in particular Christianity, at the festival

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