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jon birch

"Christians might respond to this by becoming students of culture..."
i hate this kind of nonsense... how pompous is that!? makes it sound like a culture in a jar under a microscope that higher forms of life study to see what its properties are. be part of culture and the problems are under your bloody nose 24/7. that's what jesus did, anything else is arse!

jon birch

governments also engage in this kind of rubbish... 'must ask the people... we are responding to the people... our surveys say... etc. etc.' it's all an admission that they're not one of the people... anyway, if the people want them to do something they don't like that upsets their comfort, they won't do it anyway... the church can be exactly the same.
time to come down from lofty places and join in... how many more damn books on the same damn issues do we need!?

Paul Fromont

Thanks for the 'heads up' Jonny. The research paper looks very interesting...

John W. Morehead

I appreciate the passion that Jon Birch brings to this issue, but he has misunderstood my comments, and has unfortunatey used some pretty strong language to do so. My call for Christians to be students of culture is not nonsense. In my view most American Christians are so wrapped up in their subculture and particular theological paradigms that they do not take notice of the broader culture, or how to missional understand and engage it. Festivals and subcultures like Burning Man are in an even worse situation where they tend to be ignored or demonized. So my call for being a student of culture, particularly from a missional perspective that recognizes the significance of alternative spiritualities in post-Christendom, is sound advice.

Those who would like to see shorter discussions of Burning Man as it relates to Christianity might enjoy reading through my blog for specific posts on the topic. I'm thankful for the exposre to my thesis that emergingchurchinfo has given me, and I'm pleased that you found it helpful, Johnny.


john i think jon was having a bad day!

John W. Morehead

Johnny, as I reviewed your initial comments on this I was struck by the statement that the thesis on Burning Man "in terms of the implications for the church, at one level the research doesn't say much that is new...." I wonder whether this might be reassessed. The third chapter of the thesis is devoted completely to Burning Man in ecclesiological reflexivity, or critical self-reflection on the festival and subculture for its ramifications for the church. Here I note negative and positive considerations. Negative in areas where the church fails to understand and characterize Burning Man, and several positive areas with ramifications for the church. These include self and community in postmodernity, countercultural considerations, a theology of play, festival and festivity, and utopianism. These are all areas with direct relevance and significance to the church in the West.

Beyond this we might also consider fresh ramifications for the temporary autonomous zone for postmodern and post-Christendom spiritual seekers. How might communities of Christians create TAZs that are informed by the gospel and the Kingdom and which encourage creativity, ritual, spiritual exploration, new understandings of the self and community, and the pathway of Jesus in such a context?

One area I did not mention but which is touched on in two blog posts of mine is the significance of the Temple at Burning Man, the structure which serves as a site for ritual and grieving for lost loved ones where offerings and remembrances are burned at the conclusion of the festival. This is very moving and one of the highlights for many Burners. This highlights the deficiences in the Western processes of dealing with death, including those offered by the church. How might Christian communites create such Temple structures that can be used to facilitate rituals related to grief and also point toward the hope of the Resurrection and the One who holds the keys to death and the grave?

I think my research was fairly extensive on this, and during the course of my studies I had not encountered anyone writing on these topics and making cultural, missional, and ecclesiological application as I have suggested. So perhaps there is more here than meets the eye at first glance.


fair play - apologies. like so many of my blog posts it was written hastily in a gap! it wasn't meant to be negative. i like the research a lot.

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    i have been blogging for a decade or more in fairly eclectic fashion. i am an advocate for pioneers, lover of all things creative, an explorer of faith in relation to contemporary culture, a photographer and writer. explore the presences section below to find me in other spaces

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