THE LIE THAT BEGAN IN THE GARDEN, IS CELEBRATED IN THE DESERT!
The eighteenth chapter of Deuteronomy outlines the various practices that are considered abominable to God. They include divination, medium-ship, fortune telling, interpreting omens, sorcery, using charms, and necromancy. But most fascinating is the mention of God detesting “anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering.”
Veterans of Burning Man know that this week long trek out to the Black Rock Desert is an “experiment in temporary community dedicated to radical self-expression and radical self-reliance.” While there’s no official meaning behind the ritual that sparked the annual “experiment,” the burning of a 40 foot tall humanoid idol remains its most recognized tradition. But there is another tradition that is far more purposeful and spiritual, and that is the building, “serving,” and burning of “The Temple.”
Every year since 2000 when the first temple, the ‘Temple of the Mind’ was built in the playa, a team of volunteers have constructed a “sacred space” in the otherwise ruckus annual cacophony of adults playing Mad Max. The hard work of the volunteers is met with thousands of people who visit the Temple, many of them bringing offerings like pictures, letters, and other artifacts that represent the more challenging and painful sides of life. The loss of a grandchild, or a broken relationship with their father, are just a couple of examples that have been shared in previous episodes. The idea is to bring such offerings into the Temple for one’s spiritual “cleansing,” as the tradition turns to ritual and they burn the whole thing down at the end of the week.
The massive fire that is invoked with the burning of the Temple would no doubt induce a cathartic moment for the attendees who watch their offerings succumb to the will of the flame. Some attendees in the past have claimed that the burning ritual brings “affirmation, closure, forgiveness and healing.” But apart from the raw emotions, the bottom line is that folks who are passionate about these types of experiences are genuine seekers of spiritual truth. The irony is that their seeking happens to include with it, pretty much all the things that the God of the Bible despises. And therein lies the fundamental difference between the Biblical worldview, and the emergent Neo-paganism, or as Carl Teichrib puts it, the Age of Re-Enchantment.
Creation Requires a Creator!
The Bible teaches that God is the one who not only created everything, but also holds it together (Col. 1:17). This means that God is distinct from creation. We know this because God’s handiwork is obvious (Rom. 1:19-20). While God can interact, or impose His will in any manner within creation (miracles), He is the Creator, not the creation itself, which is in a perpetual state of decay under the curse of Adam and Eve (2nd Law of Thermodynamics, Rom. 8). The Bible also promises a day when a New Heaven and a New Earth, Eden 2.0, would restore humanity to its rightful relationship with God, and with nature. This would happen under HIS authority, not by human hands (Rev. 21-22, Acts 7:48, 17:24-25, Is. 31:8)
On the other hand (third hand?), the worldview presented by Burning Man is one that suggests God is found IN creation itself, thus making everything, including ourselves, “GODS.” This worldview, which can be characterized as Neo-paganism, suggests that “all of nature and the universe are considered embodiments of God and Goddess, or of gods and goddesses, worthy of respect, reverence, or worship,” and furthermore, they suggest that the “concept of “salvation” is essentially irrelevant; rather [we believe] that people can attain spiritual balance and harmony with each other and nature. The path includes group ceremonies, dances, songs/chants, prayers, meditation, trance, altered states of consciousness, the metaphysical, magic, invoking or evoking deities or spirits, Tantric practices.”
The obvious issue with saying “everything in nature and the universe is worthy of respect, reverence, and worship,” is that it causes dissonance between the idealism and reality without a bridge to connect the two. It is highly likely that the same folks who believe that “all nature and universe is worthy of respect, reverence, and worship,” wouldn’t respect, revere, or worship the dog excrement found on the bottom of their shoe, or respect, revere, and worship the person that cuts them off on the highway. Such a wide chasm between what one suggests is the nature of reality, and their individual experiences, as well as the blatant disregard for the God that offers the free gift of salvation for anyone who simply repents and believes that Jesus Christ is Lord, would hopefully cause some who identify as Neo-pagans to reconsider what the Bible has to offer.
Lastly, if salvation is irrelevant, what is the purpose of their seeking “spiritual balance and harmony with each other and nature”? How would they even determine the value of “balance” without some idea of it being a salvific achievement? The outlook of the Bible offers a more coherent prospect. God will dwell with us in New Jerusalem one day, where He will wipe away our tears, where there will be no more death, where the wolf and the lamb graze together, where lions will hang out with cows, and snakes won’t bite kids. In other words, a world where there is spiritual balance and harmony with each other and nature with the addition of God (Rev. 21:4, Is. 65:25). But once again, the Neo-pagan method to attain Eden 2.0 is by all means of unrestricted spiritual seeking along with blatant depravity. It’s an interesting dynamic that Bible believers and Neo-pagans share so much in the ideal, yet so little in the outlook of how we get there.
The Final Burn Report
It’s been a few weeks since the ashes of Burning Man 2018 began to settle in the Black Rock Desert, so it was time to bring back Carl Teichrib to give his wrap up and reflections from his adventures.
Carl has been a guest several times on Canary Cry Radio, but to get the most out of this episode, make sure to listen to CCR 132: Camp of the Unknown God! w/ Carl Teichrib first, then the Canary Cry FLYBY: Burning Man ’18 – Boots on the Ground, then if you REALLY want more, visit the Canary Cry Radio Patreon page, and if you subscribe as a Babel Buster or higher, you will receive not only Canary Cry Conversations 008: Basil’s Burn Report! and 009: Basil’s Burn Audio Tour! but you’ll get access to all of the CCConvo’s past and future!
We want to say a special thanks to all who helped Carl and the Camp of the Unknown God team get to Burning Man 2018. Without your generosity, we couldn’t have brought you such detailed reports, nor would we have been privy to some of the more nefarious agenda’s that we uncovered! Praise God!