Catholic, Culture

I’m Staying Catholic Because of Burning Man

NPR has a survey going, “Have you left the Catholic Church?” A quick glance at the questions indicates they expect one answer. I responded to the survey, and threw in a “and nothing could ever make me leave!” for good measure. I highly doubt they’ll contact me for follow up questions.

I’ve realized my stubbornness isn’t universal. There are a lot of people who are honestly struggling with remaining in the Catholic Church. What was once a safe haven is now tainted and full of suspicion. For those who may be struggling: know I’m praying for you– its a hard call to make. I’d like to offer you these reasons to stay, along with this warning. If you leave, you might to end up at Burning Man. And nobody wants that.

Burning Man is the embodiment of what happens when you take away everything that is good, beautiful, and true. You’re left with dirty, stinking hedonism in a desert. A majority of the people who go to Burning Man are post-college educated Millennials, and they are very wealthy. These aren’t just “filthy hippies” having a music festival. These are driven, goal-oriented, and successful people who still have a gaping hole in their being.

While it claims to be a EDM (electric dance music) festival, it centers around ten “principles” and rituals that are freakishly similar to Gaelic rituals from millennia ago, not to mention the Bacchanal nature of the whole thing. A majority, if not all, of these enlightened “Burners” would scoff at the rituals and rites of the Catholic Church that are meant to elevate humanity, but then turn around and jump in headfirst to rites and rituals that drag humanity to its basest level.

The Catholic Church, on the other hand, has the fullness of everything that is good, beautiful and true, and thus is the perfect defense against and antidote to Burning Man.


The Catholic Church has a vibrant and rich culture. The art, architecture, music, and stories are the best that the world has to offer. From simple chants and carvings in the catacombs, all the way to the grand cathedrals and polyphonic hymnary, Catholic art and music cannot be matched. What piece of music could top Mozart’s Dies Irae? What sculpture could compete with Michelangelo’s Pieta?

I’m staying Catholic because I love beautiful things.

Moral Code

Living out the Faith makes you a better person. A lot of non-religious people will just claim that “being a good person” is enough, and that’s true, it would be. But we need some sort of guideline to actually do that. Our fallen nature and concupiscence tends to drag us to not being such a good person. The Catholic faith does not allow for compromise. It holds it’s members to the highest standard, and demands repentance for when they fail.

I’m staying Catholic because that is the moral standard I want to hold myself and my family to.


The Church is the one who really gets this concept right, not the psychologist. To be “self-actualized” means to have reached an awareness of your potential and talent. The Church is constantly pushing us to reach our full potential, which is of course, to become a saint. Any other “potential” is a total aside to our final destiny and purpose.

I’m staying Catholic to retain a solid understanding of my potential and purpose.


In the process of all this self-actualizing, I fall. Sometimes quite miserably. Confession works as a reset button. It wipes clean all the evil from my soul and allows me to get back on course, while simultaneously strengthening me to do better next time. No other faith has an ex opere operato guarantee of forgiveness.

I’m staying Catholic because I’m a miserable sinner who needs constant repentance.

Intellectual Honesty

It’s no coincidence that most of the great thinkers in our existence jive with the Catholic Faith. Aristotle and Plato, while falling short, logically progress into St. Paul who progresses into Aquinas. While we do have “mysteries” that cannot be comprehended by our limited intellect, not one iota of our faith is contradictory. The whole system of belief works seamlessly. Even the mysteries are not totally illogical, since we have sufficient reason to believe in the honesty and goodness of the God who revealed them.

I’m staying Catholic because it is logical.

The Eucharist

We were created by God for union with Him. In His goodness, God doesn’t even make us wait for heaven to achieve that unity. He leaves His own Body and Blood for us to consume at each and every Mass so that we can begin to unite our bodies and souls with Him right here and right now. There is no other way in this existence that a human person can unite in a physical way with our Creator. Sure, you can experience God through praise and worship, through a walk in the woods, or in the smile of an infant, but the Eucharist is really Him. Right there. IN YOUR BELLY!!!

I’m staying Catholic because I long to be with my God.

Psalm 63:1

Back to Burning Man

Every human has a desire for transcendence, for something more. Aquinas developed this into the “Argument from Desire”. When we purposefully remove ourselves from the object of that desire (God, and union with Him through the Eucharist), we are going to try and meet that desire with something else, be that empty sentimentality (“Jesus is my best-est friend and everything is sunshine”) or sex, drugs, and rock and roll– I mean EDM. You can hardly blame the 70,000+ people for converging to revel at Burning Man every year. They know that their desires were given to them for a reason. They are just duped and attempting to meet those desires in a destructive way.

Passions and desires are not innately bad at all. God gave us our desires and our passions, and properly directed, they can lead us back to Him. But left unchecked, they will drag us down. The Catholic Church gives us a road map to direct our passions and desires so they don’t run amok and destroy us.

I’m staying Catholic because I know my desires and passions are meant to be filled, but I really really don’t want to end up at Burning Man.


Linking with Kelly at “This Ain’t the Lyceum” for 7 Quick Takes. Go see what all the other actually awesome bloggers are writing about today.


5 thoughts on “I’m Staying Catholic Because of Burning Man”

  1. You lay out logical, beautiful reasons to stay Catholic. Well, my reasons for staying sort of boil down to “leave for what else?” and the Church to me has never been about all the bad people we are hearing about now. I am not going to claim everyone is wicked when I have yet to personally meet anyone criminal!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Even in the heyday of JPII, we never should be Catholic just because we like a cleric. Our Protestant brothers often tease us for worshiping clerics, as well they should!
      The best priest, bishop, or even pope just points us to Jesus, then gets out of the way.


  2. I faced this when becoming Catholic. The Eucharist alone does it for me. After Jesus explained the Eucharist in John chapter 8, a lot of followers left him. Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “are you going to leave, too?” Peter resonded, “Lord, where would we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)

    That pretty much sums it up for me, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Although well-intended, this is a judgmental post that makes sweeping generalizations about all people who go to Burning Man. If you are trying to get a point across, people would be more willing to listen and (for example) be interested in the Catholic church if you refrained from insult and stereotyping, and examined your biases.


    1. I suppose that is true, and I guess I’ve always assumed that my audience is people who are already Catholic. I’m sure there are people who go to Burning Man out of curiosity, or because they actually do like EDM. But I don’t think it’s an unjust generalization to say that the hardcore “Burners” go because they recognize the need for transcendence beyond the everyday. Something in their soul desires something more. At Burning Man, some will find that “more” through radical inclusion and immediacy, some through the Orgy Dome, and some through lots and lots of drugs. Ultimately, whatever that “more” anyone finds at Burning Man isn’t going to fulfill them, and can be quite destructive in most cases, because it’s not the “more” that we are made for.


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