I made the comment a couple posts ago, that God goes to Burning Man. This was a simple observation in connection to the idea of a God Who is omni-present.
Christwire spoof article, which highlights many of those exaggerations), partly due to the wildness of the event, but partly due to the fact that as Christians we often do not see God in developing cultures.
It is far too easy for us to see transitions in culture as enemies to tradition, and therefore also lacking God. If we truly believed that God was opposed to radical changes in culture, we might easily assume that God isn't going to be found at Burning Man - thus, God doesn't go there.
This mistake in logic is two-fold:
1) it assumes that God does not show up at places where sin occurs.
2) it assumes that developing cultures which have elements of licentiousness within them do not have expressions of the Gospel itself in their basic construction.
(I could add to the list of mistakes, but will not do so for simplicity's sake here.)
In response the first mistake: It almost seems silly to have to respond to it, but here we go. Everyone repeat with me, "Where sin abounded...." You do know the rest, correct? If not, please see Romans 5:20. We read that Jesus was a friend of drunks, prostitutes and sinners of all kinds. Yet somehow befriending people He befriended is wrong for us? Of course we do not sin in order to experience grace, yet where sin is grace shows up excessively. Doesn't the story of the woman caught in adultery teach us this?
In response to the second error: (There are too many negative responses to changing culture to fully cover this mistake in a quick post such as this, but here go a few thoughts.)
a) Change is a dynamic of life with God. Perhaps we should anticipate change in culture to have some elements of God built into it. The Reformation is a radical example of this. It was more than a theological revolution, it carried cultural changes as well.
b) because cultural revolution may have elements of excess it does not mean that everything within a developing culture is birthed out of selfishness, or a lust-drive. The radical acceptance, and the culture of "gifting" (neither buying nor selling, nor even bartering, but simply giving freely) is part of the culture of the week at Burning Man. If nothing else, this models the dynamics of grace better than anything I find in our capitalistic American culture today. Everyone pitches together to make art projects happen, to give food, and gifts and services of all sorts.
c) If we make the mistake of seeing nothing but the devil in a developing culture, we will make the same mistake that many missionaries have made in history. We will either lose the audience we hope to love, or we will change them so fundamentally that many of those changes will isolate them from their own culture, and harm them. In these times of radically changing culture it is necessary to find God in the developments. Seekers are looking for ways to find God and authenticity in cultural shift, and because of that God is there in the cracks between the shift.
d) believing that cultural change is wrong is tantamount to deifying our own culture. The Jesus I read about came to the culture of 1st century Israel and turned the culture of the religion upside down. His work was progressive enough to get Him falsely accused and executed. He was an iconoclast of His times, tearing down the idols of a culture which viewed itself as the culture of God.
This missional consideration is the philosophical background behind our art project Pillars of the Saints, which is a Burning Man art installation this year. It is our way of meeting God at Burning Man, and helping those who are seeking find what they are looking for. This is our last day for reaching our funding goal. You can help us reach that goal by visiting the Kickstarter fundraising site. Thanks.
Of course, this will necessarily lead to another post in which I look at God's position both outside of, and inside culture, because I do view God as transcendent to culture, and yet immanent and present within it.