Friday, August 01, 2014

Radical Self-Expression: Burning Man Devotional Series #5

photo by Kevin Rolly
This fifth principle is perhaps the dearest to my heart (or at least runs head to head with principle #2). Radical self-expression is what most people think of when they think of Burning Man, and this is typically thought of in its most hedonistic variations: crazy drunkenness, drugs, public nudity, raves pounding loud music through the night, and wild sex parties. Yes, it true that these things happen at Burning Man, and this is one of the reasons that being a pastor going to Burning Man seems so out of place. It is like the Apostle Paul going to Corinth or Rome - oh wait, I think maybe he did that.

This radical self-expression is more than partying, and uninhibited sexuality. It is expressed in art, drama, music, dance, and simple interactions of gifted kindness. The circus arts with spinners, hoopers, jugglers, and tumblers are everywhere. Artists build amazing, and beautifully interactive installations all around the desert floor, which has become a blank canvas for their creativity. People wander from camp to camp giving away Otter Pops, or stickers and buttons, or poetic compliments. The sun rises and dancers dance in the first glow of the day. Meditation groups gather, and people interpret your dreams. Musical entertainment occurs in small stages all across the temporary city of over 60,000. People paint faces, wander around in colorful costumes, bling your bike, and fix broken things, because that's what they like to do.

Can you imagine if Christianity exhibited the wonderful creativity of Burning Man? Some year's ago, a group of people returned from Burning Man to LA, and asked that same question. They started a church called Tribe LA. They are some of my favorite people, and I feel at home at Tribe LA, almost as much as I do at The Gathering. I met them at Burning Man for the first time four year's ago.

This fifth principle is at the heart of the Protestant Reformation, or at least at the heart of the best of it. It calls to consider the Priesthood of All Believers. It also is at the heart of these strange and wonderful Pentecostal expressions we call the gifts of the Spirit. We are all being called to a radical self-expression that is uninhibited in its passion to benefit the people around us.

"Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts..." (1 Corinthians 14:1)

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