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?


Anonymous said...

Phil, thanks for these devotional posts. I love Burning Man. And, I love Jesus. I agree with you that the gospel is full of "radical self reliance". Our self reliance (in contrast to that of Burning Man) is a self reliance that arises out of our individual dependence on a living savior. We rely on a living savior to meet our personal needs - emotional, physical, and supernatural. The more we know of God both in an academic and experiential way, the more we are stable and fulfilled and from this stability able to meet the needs of others and bring them into a relationship with God that makes them stable and fulfilled. We bring each other along into "radical self reliance" in relationship with God and become a creative army pulling others into His orbit.

I love reading your thoughts and will look forward to reading about your Burning Man experiences and encounters!

Pastor Phil said...

Thanks anon, Good thoughts. I am assuming you are a Burner, and have been there. Is that correct?