Sunday, November 28, 2004

Pastors on the playa

Over the past several years, the annual Burning Man event in Nevada has gained a higher and higher profile. In some quarters, this event is viewed with alarm. Is it a convocation of "earth-worshipping pagans" and a preview of Hell?

Does the Lord tell you to "lead a team to Burning Man"? Does it speak to one of the favorite notions of Abrahamic religion, that, "historically, God has chosen the desert as a backdrop when He wanted to strip the peripherals away"?

The third writer, Randy Bohlender, adds, " I go to Burning Man because I want the church of the future to learn lessons that can only be learned when one goes to where the future is headed. " (I have given the links in order of increasing theological liberalism, as I see it.)

Undoubtedly, some Burners would flinch at seeing a Christian spin put on this determindly non-sectarian even--or a capital-P Pagan spin either. A Pagan theologian like Michael York, with his position that "Paganism is root religion," could argue that Burning Man undoubtedly contains Pagan cultic elements at an almost unconscious level, an observation that would probably delight Thomas Horn, the first author linked to.

I suppose it's a dubious sign of success when people start trying to "spin" your event to fit their theologies and ideologies.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Chas--

The two links I sent you (in the second pgrph of your post) are from the same author, btw. Not sure if that was clear. If you're up for a real gas, check out his blog:

Be sure to read back into November for his comments on the election, which I found enlightening somehow, if a bit disturbing.

Pastor Randy & his crew (he's been to bman 3 times since 2000, with a bigger flock each time) are essentially witnessing in a non-invasive way, and, near as I can tell, are quite keen to refresh their Christianity with or without Burning Man-- although they seem to be genuinely inspired by its creativity. He's clever enough to know that the "hammer" approach (as he called it when I saw him this summer) won't work in this setting, and believes that it has generally done more harm than good for their cause.

He & his crew had a new spin this time-- they were offering dream interpretation using the "Hebraic Method" as I was told. The gal who interpreted my dream (resulting in interesting insights, I might add) had previously been trained as a Jungian analyst, but near as I could tell was no longer practicing that particular brand of therapy-- those who were doing the interpretation had taken a multi-week course in this Hebraic Method-- based on some notion of biblical prophecy. And I'm not sure at what point it would become clear to the hapless passerby which religious proclivity they affiliated with, as when I went in this year Randy & crew were, of course, already known to me & vice versa. The dream interpreter did mention "the prophets" and "God's love" but I can't recall without digging into my notes if she got around to mentioning Jesus.


Lee Gilmore

11:39 AM  
Blogger Chas S. Clifton said...

Pastor Randy certainly lives a life of high spiritual drama. Consider this quote from his blog:

"We will be staffing the house of prayer with interns 24/7 as well as sending them out to strategic prayer locations all over the city on a day to day basis, and laying a daily seige of prayer on the Supreme Court steps."

10:04 PM  

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