Burner Impressions of Christianity

Share your views on the policies, philosophies, and spirit of Burning Man.
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johnwmorehead
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Burner Impressions of Christianity

Post by johnwmorehead » Fri May 25, 2007 11:33 am

Thanks for the incoming feedback on my other post topic of Burning Man as a new spiritual outlet.

With this post I'd like folks to feel free to share their impressions of Christianity and Christians, and how this might contrast with their feelings about Burning Man.
John W. Morehead

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jpx
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Post by jpx » Fri May 25, 2007 12:34 pm

i like this line:

<< every heart, _every heart to love will come, but like a refugee >>

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Post by Badger » Fri May 25, 2007 12:49 pm

I'd like folks to feel free to share their impressions of Christianity and Christians
I think there are a few folks around these parts whose opinions of either you probably don't want to hear.

Having said that I still think the group of Christian folk who head up to the playa with their hundreds and hundreds of bottle of water are pretty darn cool. Very laid back. Very (as far as I can tall) non-judgmental. Very unconditional in their interactions.
Desert dogs drink deep.

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dana
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Post by dana » Fri May 25, 2007 1:20 pm

jpx wrote:i like this line:

<< every heart, _every heart to love will come, but like a refugee >>
What is that from?
It's very evocative, but seems to want a context.

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Post by dana » Fri May 25, 2007 1:33 pm

As far as my impressions of Christians, it depends. Can't remember meeting any at BM. I tend toward the new age end of the spectrum, so I've tended to see Christianity as a little too confining. But that seems to have changed somewhat of late. Increasingly I hear christians saying things that I find quite good and transcendant of religion into spirituality. Like that guy Joel something, (preaches to a HUGE stadium of people). He was talking about the simple act of listening to the "whispers" (the subltle indications reality provides to get you to look in a particular direction), and about being open to whoever is around you because they may just be inspired to tell you the one thing you need to hear at that moment and vice versa. Of course I'm paraphrasing a bit.

Burning man is a rather large umbrella. I'm sure there's plenty of room for christians there.

Hmmm? I'm picturing some kind of match at the Thunderdome - the christians against the pagans????

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Post by Teo del Fuego » Fri May 25, 2007 1:35 pm

John:

check out http://fatherneo.com/2006/10

This is a fairly progressive Episcopalean father who, tipped off to the fact that I was "lurking," posted the Burning Man topic. My response is under the nomme de plume (or is that nomme de guerre in this case) Fearth Eon, a jumbling of the pastor's sobriquet Father Neo.

I was raised in the oppressive confines of a hypocritical strain of Southern Baptists. Fortunately, I had a thirst for wisdom and knowledge and read and travelled as much as possible. Now, Im more of a non-demoninational buddhist. I think there is superior being or force, but I disagree that it is external to us and I particularly do not think it is an angry invisible sky god (imported from the middle east) and who takes personal interest in what I do.

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Post by johnwmorehead » Fri May 25, 2007 1:42 pm

I really would like to hear all opinions on this question, including or especially the harsh ones.
John W. Morehead

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Dork
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Post by Dork » Fri May 25, 2007 2:09 pm

You seem to be fishing for something specific here. What would you like us to say?

The church is a business with a product many people seem to find value in and a very effective long term marketing strategy. It's done good and bad things in the name of expanding the brand. It's practicioners are mostly very well meaning people who found a way to support themselves, just like the employees of any other business. Christians are just people who, for various reasons, are getting their needs met by being aligned by this particular church. I don't assign any particular trait to them, because they're all different. Just like burners.

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Post by misfit » Fri May 25, 2007 2:11 pm

thankyou Dork,,,, well said...
Be happy while you're living, For you're a long time dead.

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Fishing?

Post by johnwmorehead » Fri May 25, 2007 2:28 pm

I'm not sure how you arrived at this conclusion or assumption, Dork, but no, I'm not fishing for any particular response. Someone said earlier that I might not like certain replies, and my response to this was for everyone to feel free to respond in any way that they wish. So I'm not looking for any particular response with the question or my clarification.
John W. Morehead

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Dork
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Re: Fishing?

Post by Dork » Fri May 25, 2007 3:14 pm

johnwmorehead wrote:So I'm not looking for any particular response with the question or my clarification.
Ok. I'm just getting a certain vibe from you that you have very strong beliefs about the things you're asking and about the response you expect to get here. I've seen it happen on other board where the origional poster waits for someone to hit a particular hot button then goes off. I apologize if I'm mistaken.

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Post by jpx » Fri May 25, 2007 3:31 pm

dana wrote:
jpx wrote:i like this line:

<< every heart, _every heart to love will come, but like a refugee >>
What is that from?
It's very evocative, but seems to want a context.
this is from a song called Anthem. Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything : that's how the light gets in.

full lyrics are here.

it was before the divorce that i first got the feeling i was going to make it. i don't think i will see His (or probably Her) face, i'll just wake up one morning and think, thank-you for letting me be alive today. reflexively, first thing. soften. these mornings my cat chases spots of light as the sunrise reflects off a disco ball i have in my window. life seems very short some days. my princess recently turned five.
for me and my true love will never meet again

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Re: Fishing?

Post by johnwmorehead » Fri May 25, 2007 3:31 pm

[quote="Dork"][quote="johnwmorehead"]So I'm not looking for any particular response with the question or my clarification.[/quote]
Ok. I'm just getting a certain vibe from you that you have very strong beliefs about the things you're asking and about the response you expect to get here. I've seen it happen on other board where the origional poster waits for someone to hit a particular hot button then goes off. I apologize if I'm mistaken.[/quote]

Of course, like any human being, I do have several strongly held beliefs, but I will not "go off" in response to any kind of responses. It's an honest question born out of curiosity as to how this relates to the demographic data that come out of the Burning Man surveys. Sorry if I gave off some kind of vibe, but no hot buttons here. Thanks.
John W. Morehead

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Post by MikeVDS » Fri May 25, 2007 4:07 pm

I hung out at a one religious camp last year a bit and did not notice any hostility toward them. Hare Krishna camp off Esplanade. As far as Christianity goes I have no problems or hostility with that religion or most of it's members. I do have a problem when people pass laws because of their belief in a religion of any sort. Since Christianity is the one in power in this country, it's generally that religions beliefs that get put onto everyone else as law. Even back in the days when I attended church every Sunday and had few political opinions I still had a problem with laws based on religion.

So that's my pet peeve with Christianity in general, but I also know that would happen to some if not a greater extent with any other religion that had a majority in a country.

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Teo del Fuego
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Post by Teo del Fuego » Fri May 25, 2007 4:17 pm

Here's what I posted on a Christian blog page in response to the father's query concering Burning Man being used as a Christianity substitute. For what its worth John , these are my thoughts on your topic.


I am a ‘Burner’ (â€

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Ron
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Re: Burner Impressions of Christianity

Post by Ron » Sat May 26, 2007 4:27 am

johnwmorehead wrote:...With this post I'd like folks to feel free to share their impressions of Christianity and Christians, and how this might contrast with their feelings about Burning Man.
Actually I feel much the same about all three. See any of those labels wrap around behavior sets/groups of people/events that are too large for me to have any summary impression of. Christianity is as christians do, seems to me, and there are so many folk who call themselves christian doing so many different things that it's not really possible for me to have an impression of it beyond that. The same can be said about Burningman. For some the religion is about attending the right church on the right days of the year. For some burners the event is about making it to the playa during the days when everyone else is there. But there are many other members of both groups with wildly different ideas and behaviors, making an overall summary/impression pretty hard for me to come up with. The details are too important and too diverse.

Now I do consider myself a, 'burner,' and don't consider myself a christian but that's mostly because anyone who goes to BRC can call themselves a burner, IMHO, while admission into the christian social group generally implies some beliefs about metaphysics that I don't hold. But my impression of both is that they are too big for summary impressions.

Ron

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Post by dragonfly Jafe » Sat May 26, 2007 7:23 am

I don't know any Christians (that I know of)....do you know any Burner's (that you know of)?
Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.
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Burner Impressions of Christianity

Post by Melvynman » Mon May 28, 2007 1:49 pm

Bullshit

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Post by mojo » Mon May 28, 2007 2:23 pm

I am a Christian, although a very liberal one, I am one indeed. Burning man is something I have loved and participated in for many years. Many on this board have a deep dislike of Christianity and are outspoken about it. Some seem to blame all of us for everything any fundamentalist, inquisitor or crusader has said or done. I have no need or desire to defend my faith, after all, there really is not just one truth, but many of them...

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Post by Box Burner » Mon May 28, 2007 8:47 pm

All roads lead to Rome!
Dance in the heart of chaos. . . . .

ὁ δὲ ἀνεξέταστος βίος οὐ βιωτὸς ἀνθρώπῳ
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - --- Σωκράτης

.

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Post by Zhust » Tue May 29, 2007 7:17 am

The biggest contrast I see is that Christians have a big book of dogma and Burners have 10 Principles.

I sometimes consider myself a "Burner" but only when my actions are harmonious with the 10 Principles. I take issue at someone else claiming they are a Burner (or "hosting a Burner event", etc.) when their acts either (a) fail to reflect some or most of the Principles, or (b) directly conflict with any one of the Principles. I'm ambivalent about people who say they are a Burner solely because they attend Burning Man.

I think I can say the same thing about Christians, although I don't consider myself one: I take issue at someone claiming they are a Christian (or "being a Good Christian", etc.) when their acts either (a) fail to reflect some or most of the teachings of Jesus, or (b) directly conflict with any one of the teachings of Jesus. I'm ambivalent about people who say they are a Christian solely because they attend a Christian Church.

That said, the most beautiful Christian is one who lives like Christ did -- as best I can tell, kind to others, interdependently relying (which almost came out as the typo, "rinterdependentlyelying") on the kindness of others, and totally in their face about being kind to others. The ugliest Christian is one who acts greedily, believes in the ill-intentions of others, acts with ill-intentions toward others, and declares that those who act otherwise are not Christians.

Between that and what little I know about the life of Christ, I don't think he would be in favor of a greedy, pro-war ruling party.
May your deeds return to you tenfold,
---Zhust, Curiosityist

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Post by Mister Jellyfish Mister » Tue May 29, 2007 8:16 am

My name is Jellyfish and I'm a recovered Catholic.

"Hi Jellyfish!"

Actually, I never believed it and was the only student in my 8th grade confirmation class to tell the teacher so. She threated to hold me back and make me take another year of the schlock... and then there were all the gifts I would receive. I was young, and I wanted to be done so I signed the paper. Now it feels like a deal with the devil with my fingers crossed behind my back.

My wife said it best when one of her friends decided the time was right to roll out some Christian dogma on her: "Christianity? Oh, yes. You mean contemporary western mythology? Fascinating!" That's my woman, stand your ground!

At my first burn as I was watching the sexy bodies twirl fire in front of the man it occurred to me that it was exactly what they kept warning me about in catocism. Beware the pagans! I can see how it is in direct conflict with the spreading of many a Christian brand. But then again, so is a vasectomy.

Now as a Zen Budhist of the Alan Watts ilk, Christianity appears to me as a mad rush to understand the universe and our place in it through the use of labels and logical explanations that all fall flat at St. Thomas Aquinas' "leap of faith".

Dragonfly Jafe nailed it in a previous post. I too would love a true Christian if I could simply meet one. So many that call themselves that don't believe what they teach, and as the poet Charles Bukowski said of Frank Sinatra, "He sells a sick society back to a sick society." At least I can listen to Frank.
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Post by robotland » Tue May 29, 2007 9:34 am

All through my childhood my family went to church every Sunday...Unitarian Universalist. On the homefront we never really did anything like pray, or observe the traditional Western holidays in any more than a "surface consumer" level. At church ("People's Church"!) my dad was the audiovisual director, and the programs often read something like "dissertation....hymn....MONTAGE." We had an awesome AV loft with rear-projection screen, banks of synched slide projectors, 35mm film projectors, light organs and other toys. THAT was the part of "religion" that I enjoyed...I always got uncomfortable when concepts like "God" or "Jesus" came up.
At no time in my life have I ever been able to summon any sort of belief in a supreme being. I'd be pleasantly surprised if one were to step forward, just as I would be if alien were to land here...But I'm not holding my breath. I have to make a great effort to NOT judge people whom I respect or even love, that maintain some degree of faith in a higher power.
It's this lack of comfort with religion that I think has kept me from getting down front for the Big Burn this last couple of years...I've started to notice a little too much "down in front!" and hushed awe during the big ones, and even mob justice dispensed towards those who seem intent on whooping it up..."Borderline cult activity" may be a somewhat strong diagnosis, but whatever it is, it worries me in The Most Civilized Place On The Planet.
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Aiee! It burns!
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Post by Aiee! It burns! » Tue May 29, 2007 10:00 am

Churches are buildings full of hypocrites and abstract rituals.
The columns in my temple were not built by the hand of man, and sway in the breeze, full of singing birds.

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Bob
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Post by Bob » Tue May 29, 2007 1:14 pm

If you meet Alan Watts on the road, he probably smells pretty bad.
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Post by Dork » Tue May 29, 2007 1:32 pm

When I was growing up my dad was a lapsed Catholic who wanted nothing to do with the church. My mom didn't really have anything to say about religion either way. I guess you could say I was raised agnostic, though we never gave it a name. God was a concept that most people seemed to believe in, so it's convenient to agree with them at a surface level.

I had a neighbor who wanted to save me, so she convinced my parents to go to a 5-day thing one Summer at her church. I vaguely remember making plates and such out of construction paper, that were supposed to symbolize something or other. The last supper maybe? I don't remember. All I remember is I was the one kid who figured out how to make a bowl by cutting out wedges and folding the paper up. The whole thing seemed really suspect so it didn't stick. Later my best friend would take me to youth group outings and try to show me how cool the church was, but it had a cult feeling to it so I just played basketball and ignored the rest.

Buddhism is the only religion I feel any connection to, because many of the teachings seemed to clarify the things I already believed. I still can't buy into it fully, though. I guess I'm missing the blind devotion gene or whatever it is so many people seem to have.

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Post by mojo » Tue May 29, 2007 2:57 pm

....

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dana
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Post by dana » Tue May 29, 2007 5:06 pm

jpx wrote:
dana wrote:
jpx wrote:i like this line:

<< every heart, _every heart to love will come, but like a refugee >>
What is that from?
It's very evocative, but seems to want a context.
this is from a song called Anthem. Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything : that's how the light gets in.

full lyrics are here.

it was before the divorce that i first got the feeling i was going to make it. i don't think i will see His (or probably Her) face, i'll just wake up one morning and think, thank-you for letting me be alive today. reflexively, first thing. soften. these mornings my cat chases spots of light as the sunrise reflects off a disco ball i have in my window. life seems very short some days. my princess recently turned five.
Thanks.
I get it now.
Anthem - about picking up the pieces, finding the parts of brightness that seemed maybe lost, and that totally crazy but useful idea of using what seemed only to be a calamity as a source of light.
"there is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in."

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dana
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Post by dana » Tue May 29, 2007 5:48 pm

johnwmorehead wrote:I really would like to hear all opinions on this question, including or especially the harsh ones.
OK

First more about what I like about some christians: Your post here (because it shows a willingness to face criticism). Their decision to try in some way to come closer to god, to be more conscious of who they are as humanity (to be more kind, honest, etc). All of that shows a kind of courage that I admire.

What I don't like: (This will probably take several posts.)
An approach to god (the divine) that is essentially lazy and "dumbs down" god. What do I mean by that? A few examples: You start with the idea of god as being in some sense the origination of all that is. Fine. OK, I can fit that into my own concepts of cosmology very easily. So god is obviously highly creative and apparently has no need to manifest their presence in an obvious way in the "material plane". Add to that idea the possibility that we are all (whether consciously deciding to or not) trying to return back to that source. That's one place where the christian god suddenly gets kind of dumb and suddenly forgets just how incredibly creative they are. For some unfathomable reason, "he" decides that the only way anyone is going to get anywhere near is through one very narrow pathway - "accepting christ.... yada yada". Let's forget for the moment that lots of people growing up in some remote Tibetan village are now condemned to hell because they didn't get the right directives, and deal with the fact that god is showing a certain pissy manipulative streak that starts to make me wonder whether the guy with the fork and tail might actually be on the inside track.....
That's one example. I would also point out what has been gone over too many times - you can't ignore science and objective reality. Now I will be one of the first to point out that spiritual reality transcends physical reality and all of our cherished information gleaned about physics etc. But to doggedly claim that the "bible says god created" it all in some exact rendition of the bible and that "true science supports" the bible and that it all, (the whole universe, etc.) has only been around for 7,000 years or whatever the current figure claimed by christian zealots, starts to sound pretty crazy and desperate.
It's all fear-based. Again, god looks like some pissy manipulative freak who has to con people into approaching by threats of eternal damnation and all the good kids get to go to heaven. (This is partly a problem derived from the lack of a concept of reincarnation. Rumor has it that the original versions of the bible had references to reincarnation. But maybe we shouldn't get into all of that Da Vinci code conspiracy stuff about how the story got twisted over time.) The problem with a fear based religion is that it ignores what should be more central - love. What kind of sick fuck god could say in one sentence they love us unconditionally and in the next make sure someone can never get out of their special hell. (I've heard of messy divorces, but eventually you're done.)

That will have to do for now.

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Post by Captain Goddammit » Tue May 29, 2007 7:39 pm

I suppose this is a fair topic, but it's just itching to be a debate!

And religion can't really be debated; those that believe will do so no matter whether it makes sense or not, and those that don't will not be convinced by an argument with no proof or basis in fact.

Since an opinion was solicited by the original post, my feelings about Christians and Christianity are that the believers usually have good intentions but they are totally brain-washed... they've been told a story by people they trust, so they believe it. They aren't necessarily bad or stupid or dishonest, but the source of the story they believe is quite flawed, and unfortunately, their parents, church officials, and other people that they highly respect have handed it down to them and they don't want to question them.

And in regard to how it relates to my feelings about Burning Man, I think it doesn't relate to it at all. BM is not (to me) a religion or a belief in a "higher power". It's a goddamm camping trip way out in the desert where the BLM will permit us to burn a big pile of wood and display art and have general merriment.
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