As Burning Man approaches I’ve been fielding questions perhaps not unlike those you’ve been asked – or are asking.
“Why would you want to hang out with a bunch of naked hippies?” (If you saw my flower-power RV you might believe I’m halfway to being a naked hippie myself.)
And, “You can tell me…it’s your husband who’s more interested in Burning Man, isn’t it?” as the questioner attempts to reconcile what they know of me with what they’ve heard of Burning Man. The nudity! The promiscuity! The drug use!
As Christian Scientists, we understand that regardless of where we are – at the grocery store, our favorite lunch spot, a nightclub, church or an art festival in the middle of nowhere – our environment is as pure – or as impure – as our consciousness.
Burning Man is many things to many people. From my experience it is a very holy environment, one in which the surface judgments of society are abandoned and people feel free to be their most true self. Is it any wonder that this often finds expression in a literal shedding of that which defines our socioeconomic and professional status? I remember a couple days into my first experience at Burning Man, or “on the playa,” when I saw a man whom I immediately recognized as not fitting in somehow. It took me a few moments to realize what was different about him – it wasn’t that he was dressed, it was that he was wearing khakis and a polo shirt! This contrasted starkly with the flamboyantly costumed people surrounding both of us (and yes, some nudity). Based on my conversations, the motive of the folks who choose to be nude or partially clothed stems not from any type of sensuous thinking or blatant sexuality but is an expression of personal freedom.
We participants of the Christian Science Camp are making a conscious choice to be clothed, not only in our right minds, but in modest clothing or costumes, although there will surely be concessions to the weather that may perhaps flaunt societal norms; some men enjoy the comfort of a sarong or kilt, for example.
The metaphysical committee has been at work spiritualizing its understanding of the Burning Man Principle of Radical Self-expression and the Commandment to Honour thy father and thy mother. While nakedness, with its focus on the material body, qualifies as a lower form of self-expression, does it not point to a precious yearning for freedom from matter? True freedom and the most radical of all “self-expression” is found in honoring our Father-Mother God as our Creator and our alone Life, the very Source of our pure expression of Love. With the consciousness of Christ, the purity of our environment is constant, assured and unassailable.
Please join us in spiritualizing the Commandment “Thou shalt not kill,” and the Burning Man Principle of Communal Effort, defined as follows: “Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration. We strive to produce, promote and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that support such interaction.”