Tag Archives: gift economy

Loaves, Fishes, and Brisket at Flipside: Fear doesn’t have to drive our friendships or our economics.

In the story of the loaves and fishes, Jesus takes the little bit of food offered to him from a small boy and breaks it, blesses it and gives it to those who had been following him for days who had become hungry.   That small gift ends up feeding several thousand people to the point where there are several baskets full after everyone has eaten.   It is  another one of the miracles a lot of people love to reference to show Jesus’ supernatural powers.   But I spent some time with some friends this weekend that reminded me of another reading of that story.   It is one with less magic but one that might actually be a bigger miracle. Continue reading

Be the Burn You Want to See in the World: The way the week before Burning Flipside makes me want to change the world.

 (dedicated to my dear friends from RedCamp)

This year will be my eighth year at Burning Flipside.   While I certainly have a lot of amazing memories and moments (like, I dunno, burning a two story hula dancer for example?) my favorite time at flipside is always the hours right at 

dusk.  Things quiet down just a little as people return to their camps to get a little grub, cover themselves in paint, fetch their poi for fire dancing, grab all the fabulous they can fit in a  fanny pack,  and rinse the cup to carry with them.   It is a moment of both frantic scrambling around and wild anticipation.  Adventure lies ahead. Continue reading

How to Kill a Moment of Grace with Two Quarters and a Pack of Gum.

I am almost never disappointed by a ride on the bus in Austin.   To try to explain why is as hard as to try  to explain what is amazing at Burning Man or Burning Flipside. There are too many un-photographable moments and too many unrealistic stories you have to experience  to make you a believer.   But this particular story has bugged me for days, and keeps changing the way I see relationships.  Now to be fair, I was already cranky.  I spent one and a half hours each way on the bus for an errand that should have taken a half hour and took three.  Even so, this seemingly insignificant moment was heartbreaking.  It was kindness turned against itself.  It was a moment turned against grace.   And it was executed with two quarters and a pack of Big Red gum. Continue reading

“How many hands does it take to wash two feet? All of ours”: One of the defining moments of my life.

John’s body was less like mine than anyone else’s in the room.  In that room full of people with some very unique bodies and abilities, that was saying a lot.   Everything in this particular prayer service was going to have a lot to do with what bodies can and cannot do, and how we live with that.  It was this night I found and answered a new question:, “How many bodies it take to wash two feet?”  Answer: All of ours. Continue reading

Help Me Get This Sadness Out My House. A Story About Rubber Gloves and Grace.

Years ago I got caught in a pretty debilitating depression.  I let things snowball to a point I felt I had little or no refuge left. Every part of life looked bleak including my own bedroom.     On weekends I would lie in bed all day and look at piles of laundry, fast food wrappers, stacks of unopened bills and just junk.   Blech.  It literally made it hard to get out of bed in the morning (or sometimes in the afternoon). One could sprain an ankle on the way to the bathroom.  At one point it became difficult for me to imagine that the room would ever be clean. I would lie in bed and pray, “please, someone come and get this sadness out my house.”  To my great surprise, one time, someone did. Continue reading

St. Benedict goes to Burning Man.

What do Benedictines have to do with Burning Man?.   Well, not much.   It is a Ven diagram with very little overlap ( I think I’ll wear my leopard skin habit with the blinky hood? #notsomuch).  But there is a reason I live happily wedged between these two very self-conscious groups of trouble makers.  And as we tip-toe across these last few hours of ordinary time and into a new season (meaning different things to each community) I have been compelled to really reflect on what is happening in my life because I how I live with these people and all of their, well, religious practices. Continue reading

How to be a Valentine: A Note on Martyrdom.

Today is a feast, a gift and remembrance, of an occasion I have yet see Hallmark really nail with one of its watercolored limericks:  there once was a man so in love with God that he was beheaded for performing marriages in opposition to war.   In defense of hallmark, that is a very hard picture to paint with water colors…

In the third century, Emperor Claudius had declared marriage illegal in order to encourage more young men to volunteer to be soldiers.  Valentine, a celibate priest, opposed both the aggressive violence of the empire as well as the notion that the state alone held the reins of marriage.   The priest knew how central marriage is to the life of the Church and couldn’t stop marrying people just because Claudius had other plans. Continue reading

Taking Candy From Strangers: grace and the everyday gift economy pt. 1

“Don’t take candy from strangers,” is one of the first proverbial lessons we try to teach our children.   Its up there with looking both ways before you cross the street. It is even higher than, “stop, drop and roll.”    Its an important  precursor to, “there is no such thing as a free lunch.”  But it is also why my friend Rich thinks that Halloween (not all saints day,  not all souls day, not a ‘harvest festival,” but Halloween) is one of the best holidays for Christians and Burners to celebrate, precisely because it is so much about candy and strangers… Continue reading