Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Gifting: Burning Man Ten Principles Devotional Series #2

Principle #2 - Gifting: "Burning Man is devoted to acts of gift giving. The value of a gift is unconditional. Gifting does not contemplate a return or an exchange for something of equal value."

It may not be possible to find a principle for behavior as closely attached to the ethic of Jesus as this second principle of the Burning Man community: Gifting.

It is common for Christians to reference the foremost activity and action of God as giving gifts to humanity. Particularly as we see God's gift in the face of His Son Jesus.

But, Burning Man is calling us to be more than voices about someone else's great gift. Burning Man is calling us to be gift givers ourselves. It calls us to prepare gifts for others. Our work on the Theophany art installation, and the interpreting of dreams will be our gift to the people of the playa, but as a basic principle of the festival we are called to more than playing this part in a corporate expression through art.

We are being called to be personal gifting agents.

The God Who has the gifting heart which gave us Jesus, performed miracles, and still offers the same blessings today is pulling on our own hearts to break the barriers of our selfishness. The Spirit calls us to give beyond ourselves - not considering ourselves, but others first. Only in learning to become Gifting Agents will we be able to express the heart of God among our fellow Burners.

Give. Give hilariously. Give freely. Prepare how you will give now. This is the only way you become a Burner, and not just a poser. That may be true for Burning Man, but it is true for the Kingdom of God too.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Radical Inclusion: Burning Man Ten Principles Devotional Series #1

This is being developed as a set of principles guiding the activity of our Burning Man 2012 art installation team: Theophany.

Principle #1 - Radical Inclusion: "Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community."

This is the first and probably the most important of the principles of Burning Man's ethical practice. As a team it is the most important value for us to exhibit toward others, and so we need to consider this in the light of our witness as a community of Jesus followers.

We have a model of radical inclusion in Jesus.

The Pharisees who were the religious leaders of the 1st century Jewish community, found themselves being critiqued by Jesus to a great degree for their exclusionary words and actions. Their anger over His critique became a driving motivation behind the move to have Him killed. His refusal to be exclusionary toward the oppressed, and the broken challenged the power of the status quo. He shows more powerfully than anyone in human history the revolutionary and subversive power of inclusionary love.

We may not agree with the beliefs of everyone we meet. We might even consider many of the personal practices of others to be unhealthy and insensible, but that does not mean we can ostracize them or exclude them from the love of our community of faith.

Radical inclusion is one of the places we learn to walk in the love of God.

About God the Psalmist writes, "with the merciful You will will show Yourself as merciful." If we think we are going to experience a deep sense of God's love toward ourselves without showing radical inclusionary love toward others we are only fooling ourselves.

This is our first and greatest challenge when we enter the playa, and walk into Black Rock City. But of course the challenge starts now, because if we can not act radically inclusionary in our everyday life, we will never accomplish it in the crazy community which makes up Burning Man.

Inclusion does not mean we think like another, act like another, or join another in everything they do. Radical inclusion is only radical because it embraces and includes others who are radically different than ourselves. There is nothing radical about it if we become like the other, or force the other to become like us. Radical inclusion is the heart of the Gospel's "agape," and therefore it is the one commandment we must practice.