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Love in flames (The Burning Man)

Rising from the desert in one of the most remote places on earth is an 80-foot temple topped by the stylized figure of a man. It wasn’t here last week and it won’t be here after Saturday night-except for the pile of ashes expected from its ritual burning.

In one of the most bizarre rites of the Silicon Age, nearly 30,000 people are camped in the middle of the Nevada desert 90 miles north of Reno to build and then destroy a temporary city built around a religious icon.

“This can be anything from a kind of playfulness, to narcissism, to a more serious spiritual quest,”? said James Donahue, president of the Berkeley, California-based Graduate Theological Union. “It is what you make of it. People bring their own interests and desires to it.”?

The annual Burning Man event is a weeklong bacchanalia. Yet since its spontaneous origin on a California beach 17 years ago, participants have often found deeper meaning. Jill Jacobs of San Rafael, California, wearing a tiara, goggles and not much else, wrote prayers for herself and her friends on a memorial temple Friday afternoon.

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