On today’s Christian Science Sentinel audio chat, John Tyler, CSB, answered a question about Burning Man as submitted by one of our camp members. John (also a member of the Christian Science Board of Lectureship) is giving three lectures at Burning Man this year, sponsored by friends of the Spiritual Playa group.
Listen to the chat here. The Burning Man question comes at about minute 50.
Anna Lisa contributed a lovely write-up of her experiences as a camp participant at the 2013 Burning Man festival that has now been published on ChristianScience.com.
We prayed thoughtfully and earnestly for ourselves and all those who would be coming, but we arrived with few outlined outcomes. We planned to gently embrace this city of lively seekers by seeing their spiritual worthiness as we washed dust from their feet. What a surprise that in doing so, we discovered we were in the middle of church! Being in this very unique environment led me to some new thinking on what constitutes Church. Here are a few ideas that came to me in that windswept space about Church pared down to its core essence.
I’ve begun doing some preliminary reading about washing feet, per last night’s teleconference. I see a Wednesday night topic in the making!
Also, I really love this quote in relation to Burning Man:
“Cleanse every stain from this wanderer’s soiled garments, wipe the dust from his feet and the tears from his eyes, that you may behold the real man, the fellow-saint of a holy household,” ‘Retrospection and Introspection,’ by Mary Baker Eddy (Pg. 86).
The playa is our ‘holy household’ for the week, filled with fellow-saints! And again, when you read the passage in context, it is clear that this cleansing starts with one’s self.
This poem made me think about what it might be like to walk into our Burning Man camp, then to participate and experience our camp’s expression of church and Reading Room. I especially like the idea of washing “feet and thoughts,” and knowing that we start with our own! Do you see anything else in this poem that you can relate to our camp? -Nancy
Walking into a church
By BARBARA COOK
From the March 1983 issue of The Christian Science Journal
should be like walking into a manger,
not a hall of judgment—
a place so shorn of self-righteousness,
so free of all reproach,
that the hungering heart will feel no
shame, no awkward fear,
Sitting in a church
should be like sitting in a field of sunlight—
comfortable and warm—
while Love’s sweet air is bearing
fragrances of Christ’s simplicity.
Experiencing church should be like walking through* a stream,
where Christly ministrations
wash your feet and thoughts
and make you clean.
Oh, yes—I know how I expect my
church to feel ….
Dear Father-Mother, teach me
now the way to make it real.
* A correction was made in the February 1985 German Herold and the March 1986 French Heraut, in which this poem was reprinted and translated: “wading in” was changed to “walking through”.
Fujiko’s Daily Lift discusses our experiences washing feet in the dusty desert in Black Rock City at Burning Man 2013. Some wonderful ideas in her talk, and some excellent comments from people who have listened to this lift.
WHAT? A CS Lecture at BURNING MAN? Ridiculous. What crazies are organizing this absurd idea? Yes, BMan is a superlative, fascinating, creative Art Festival. For 4 years I’ve attended to support our son’s large theme camp, flying in his banquet food and décor. I’ve experienced some outstanding healings there, but as a devoted, active lifelong CS, I’d never condone a CS Lecture or even brief stage presentation at BMan.
WHY? True, the basic philosophy requires brotherly kindness, strict conservation, self-reliant living, banning profiteering, respecting multi-culturalism, intellectual talks, focus on dancing and symbolism of destruction of the past year’s negative events to be free for fresh, positive experience.
However, the emphasis on total freedom of lifestyle, usage of alcohol and drug abuse, and immodesty by a significant number in a city of 60,000:- it all seemed to me licentious, inappropriate, and offensive for offering pure CS.
But then, WHY NOT Go For It? Was I being impressed with evil? I knew Mrs. Eddy wrote “Why should we stand aghast at nothingness?” (S&H563:5)
WHEN? As I learned of the extremely loving, well-organized, and spiritual purpose of the lecture organizing team, the motives began to shine as so pure, so filled with spiritual light and Christly compassion to “give a cup of cold water” in the hot desert of humanity escaping from unresolved problems, I began to reach out for how I could help, though not attending.
MBE does counsel us “Never breathe an immoral atmosphere unless in an attempt to purify it” (S&H 452:14-15).What about praying (Hymn 144) “In atmosphere of Love Divine, we live and move and breathe”? What right did I have to take offense? Again, our Leader advises in “Taking Offense” (MiscWr 223-224) that we CAN go forth into the wide world of diverse cultures, opinions, ceaseless interactions with dynamic spiritual patience, magnanimity, genial temper, and charity broad enough to cover the whole world’s evil (my paraphrasing).
WHOSE RESPONSIBILITY IS THIS, ANYWAY? Are there CS radicals or CS conservatives? MBE answers (“We soil our garments with conservatism, and afterwards we must wash them clean.” MWritg 452:20) We never need be timid, since everyone loves joyful surprises you find in practicing CS…Hymn 191 addresses this situation:
“My God, my Father, make me strong when tasks of life seem hard and long… Things deemed impossible I dare ~ Thine is the call, and Thine the care”
RESULT? Had a totally different perspective, so I found a way to support all CS activity with enthusiastic prayer-watching over the lecture & other times. As we know, the fruitage was excellent with healing and great joy!
Deepest gratitude for excellent team-planning, organization, choice of lecturer, — specially the shared inspiration before — a superb unfoldment of relevant, fresh, humorous ideas.
And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
“You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.”
“You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. but mostly they’re darked.
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?”
To ascertain our progress, we must learn where our affections are placed and whom we acknowledge and obey as God. If divine Love is becoming nearer, dearer, and more real to us, matter is then submitting to Spirit.
Yep, going to the desert, both to learn and to share.
Millions of unprejudiced minds – simple seekers for Truth, weary wanderers, athirst in the desert – are waiting and watching for rest and drink. Give them a cup of cold water in Christ’s name, and never fear the consequences. What if the old dragon should send forth a new flood to drown the Christ-idea? He can neither drown your voice with its roar, nor again sink the world into the deep waters of chaos and old night. In this age the earth will help the woman; the spiritual idea will be understood. Those ready for the blessing you impart will give thanks. The waters will be pacified, and Christ will command the wave.
Science & Health with Key to the Scriptures, 570:14