Friday, August 08, 2014

Civic Responsibility: Burning Man Ten Principles Devotional Series #7

Civic Responsibility

We value civil society. Community members who organize events should assume responsibility for public welfare and endeavor to communicate civic responsibilities to participants. They must also assume responsibility for conducting events in accordance with local, state and federal laws.

Yes. It's true. Burning Man asks its participants to keep the law - not break it. It's not as anarchic as you thought, is it? And beyond that, Burning Man is asking those of us who organize events to consider the safety of those who will be attending our events.

Our team has had people eat grasshoppers, watch movies, stay up till 3am debating about a plethora of philosophical subjects (including the existence of God, and the legitimacy of Christianity), sit on pillars waiting for the voice of the Spirit to speak to them, and help us burn our exhibits to the ground, and in all these things we were expected to make sure safety measures were in place.

I camp with a group of people who jokingly (or, half jokingly, or maybe not so jokingly at all) say, "Safety third." But, when it comes down to it, Burning Man is trying to let the government know that they are trying to help people keep the law. When you have almost 70,000 people gathered out in the brutal climate of the Black Rock Playa for a week, you have to consider that keeping the law is something necessary for survival of the event. Yet, at the same time, there is something rebellious about the festival. This reminds me of a wild prophet from the first century AD who spoke of a better way of life, and simultaneously challenged the status quo. 

"Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience." (Romans 13:1-5)

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