burning man

Burning Man: Fear of an Alternative Pagan Social Order

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For evangelicals like Steve Matthews, Burning Man embodies deep-seated fears which can also be seen playing out in other aspects of American culture. Many conservatives fear that America is undergoing decay, and this is taking place in the spiritual realm as well. A lingering economic malaise, coupled with our continued cultural fascination with apocalyptic scenarios, provides a context in which Burning Man functions as a Rorschach test.

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Burning Down the Temple: Religion and Irony in Black Rock City

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If there is any communal rite of passage at Burning Man, it is the Temple Burn on Sunday night, the event’s finale. Not everyone comes out for this event; some would rather dance to techno music or chat up a neighbor on the next bar stool instead of joining tens of thousands of Burners sitting on the ground quietly waiting for the temple to burn down, taking all their messages and their pain—they hope—with it.

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Burning Man in the Age of Rick Perry: Revelation, Pluralism, and Moral Imperative

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Like any pilgrimage site, Burning Man is less a destination than a pretext for the journey. These days, of course, flying into Reno isn’t so hard—but actually opening up to whatever Black Rock City has to offer… that journey can be arduous. If you go looking for a festival with sex and drugs and dance music, that is all you will find. But if you pause to wonder why there’s a temple in the middle of it, why people come back year after year even if they don’t do drugs, or, for that matter, how it is that the art, community, and culture of Black Rock City is constructed without a Them putting on entertainments for Us, much more can be received.   

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2012 Film Heralds Progressive Utopia, No Effort Required

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Makers of a new film imagine 2012 as an idyllic time of peace, environmental stewardship, and equality. The documentary asserts that whatever happens in 2012, it will allow things like rooftop farms, bicycle culture, and other aspects of urban environmentalism to thrive. It sounds completely lovely. But film does not explain is why we must await the stroke of 2012 to start building this utopian vision.

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Burning Man: Religious Event or Sheer Hedonism?

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The popular term “spiritual but not religious” only goes so far in describing an event like this. I think Burning Man shows us the enduring importance of ritual as a vehicle through which humans connect with one another and as well as with a mysterious “more,” while also showing us how these expressions are increasingly displaced outside the bounds of the dominant Western cultural concepts of “religion.”

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Forget Right or Wrong

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If the traditional practice of prayer in the context of traditional institutional religions is increasingly meaningless for a significant and growing proportion of American believers and seekers, one wonders what the spiritual or civic value is of attempting to encourage the practice through governmental fiat.

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