Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Life of the Holy Fool

"For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence." (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)

Last week I played the fool. Literally.

I was running closing ceremonies for the Wild Goose Festival in North Carolina. Myself and Callid Keefe-Perry played co-ringmasters to a part revival - part circus ceremony. That's Callid and I pictured above. The parts we played were two sides of a Holy Fool. Callid was the slightly legalistic revivalist styled circus ringmaster, and I was the anarchic Jesus-people hippie ringmaster, and we played a grand tension of the Christian life (law versus license) against one another.

The creation of a carnival-like atmosphere has regularly allowed me to befriend people very unlike myself. Christians with beliefs far more liberal than my own fairly conservative evangelical reading of the scriptures, the Witches living in my famous little city of Salem, Massachusetts, and the people called "Burners." (Our friends who go to Burning Man.)

More and more I find myself creating and being involved in artsy, and crazy ideas. So much so that I am wondering if my calling is to be a clown - a clown dancing and tripping between the many warring factions of our broken world - bringing peace and a gentle God revolution. I often am more comfortable in uncomfortable places than I am among people who think and act just like I do.

Last week I was at the Wild Goose in a wildly divergent Christian crowd. In a little less it that two months it will be an outreach art installation at the wildly hedonistic Burning Man, and after that back home to Haunted Happenings in Salem, MA.

Right now we are in the fundraising stage of our Burning Man art installation, and need help to get the project together and to Nevada. I guess we are looking for people who want to join the convocation of Holy Fools.

"If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God." (1 Corinthians 3:18-19)

Friday, June 08, 2012

Radical Self-reliance: Burning Man Ten Principles Devotional Series #4

"Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources."

At first glance Burning Man's 4th principle may appear to contrast negatively to the values of the Gospel we discover in Jesus Christ. The grace of God, which brings us salvation is a wildly rich and free thing given to us by a hilariously giving God, and God understands that we are incapable of self-supplying all we need for life. Yet, a second consideration of this principle might help us navigate this wild anarchic world we all struggle to successfully live within.

Radical self-reliance is designed to draw the resources and strengths out of each person. A community of giving can not survive when people do not pull their own weight and then supply beyond that to serve others. A giving society is a society of workers, and carers. We know this is at the heart of the Gospel as well.

Paul highlights the tension between carrying our own weight and taking on the burdens of others. In the 6th chapter of Galatians, these two apparently contradictory passages are only a few lines separated from one another:

"Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."

"For every man shall bear his own burden."

It is our ability to take care of ourselves, and to carry the burden of life that makes it possible to carry the overload of others in time of need. We not only learn to carry our own weight, but for those who carry lighter burdens in this life, we become the carriers of the overload others often struggle with.

Burning Man becomes a community of people who are radically self-reliant, and yet come ready to help one another, serve one another, and anticipate that it is in this community where we find our truest riches. Sounds a bit like the goals of the Gospel doesn't it?

Decommodification: Burning Man Ten Principles Devotional Series #3

"In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience."

It is the sad case of our American culture that we have replaced having with doing as a description of our being. What we own, and spend our money entertaining ourselves upon become defining actions of our lives.

How is it that the same people who follow the Galilean Rebel whose kingdom is not of this world, whose attachment to rules of engagement with society were loose and unconcerned have not been forward thinkers in respect to revolting against the system of enslavement to pop culture and capitalistic entrapment? Burning Man leads us into a place of rethinking our attachments to this world, and hopefully loosens our grip on commodity based fulfillment.

The principle of decommodification separates us from the intravenous tube of the drug of pop culture. The question is NOT how well we will survive, it is how well we will identify and live in the values of this principle. Our participation in the second principle of gifting, in the sixth principle of communal effort, and in the ninth principle of participation will help determine how well we adapt to the playa.

Just remember to leave your brand name fashion statements at home. At Burning Man you'd be better off with nothing. Uhm, I mean owning nothing.