Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Oooh, shiny object
You see what happens Larry? This is what happens, Larry. This what happens when I get 8 hours a day in front a computer with an internet connection.

I get distracted by all sorts of shiny objects.

Like a Flickr photosite set up by the Icelandic band Sigur Ros while they tour.

Like segment on PBS over the weekend on the "emerging church." And the ensuing blog commentary. Haven't watched the RealPlayer clip yet, as that would be just too distracting in class.

A choice soundbyte from Brian McLaren:
More and more of us are feeling that if we have a version of the Christian faith that does not make us the kind of people that make this a better world, we really want no part of it.

Furthermore, reporter Amy Lawton observes,
There are also questions about the extent to which the emerging church conversation will push out beyond a white middle-class movement to become truly diverse and global, and whether it will have a lasting spiritual impact.

Begging the question, does the non-white, middle-class world need the "Emerging Church"? Probably, most likely, definitely not. If Philip Jenkins is right, then the rest of the world is far removed from the hangups of we authoritarian-challenged, dillusioned, middle-class, white evangelicals have with institutional Christianity.

Like an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education where someone gets their stuffy tweed jacket all in a twist over bloggers:
What is it with job seekers who also write blogs? Our recent faculty search at Quaint Old College resulted in a number of bloggers among our semifinalists. Those candidates looked good enough on paper to merit a phone interview, after which they were still being seriously considered for an on-campus interview.

That's when the committee took a look at their online activity.

Thankfully, yours truly can hide behind a curtain of several thousand imposters.

Like this speech that Andy Crouch gave at the Christy Awards for Christian fiction:
Laptops are an extraordinary technological achievement, with integrated circuits that incorporate millions of transistors into a $2000, 6-pound package with more computing power than used to fit in several climate-controlled rooms. And the main way people use their laptops on airplanes is . . . to play solitaire.

But wait, it gets better...
This is a constant Christian temptation. We are prone to create our Christian virtual reality—I’m sure that right here at the International Christian Retail Show you’ll be able to meet good-hearted folks creating Christian video games. Isn’t that appealing? A world, suitably tweaked and put at your disposal for your entertainment, where Christianity actually works! Just obey the Christian rules and you win the game. A world where prayers are always answered! A world where sin doesn’t weave itself so tightly around even our best efforts! It is so tempting to strategically simplify, to create a fictional reality in which things just seem to work better than they do in this world.

But to do that is to deny the Incarnation—to deny that God became real in this world, in this very world where God does not seem real to many people much of the time. To create Christian virtual reality is to choose escape and seclusion and thus become entirely irrelevant to the heart of the gospel, which is God entering into this very world in order to liberate it from its captivity to itself.

Later, Crouch relates a story of a recent trip to Africa where he encountered that most disruptive character of the Christian virtual reality--the beggar:
But I remember those eyes and that smile, I remember them all the more vividly because I never looked directly at him. And I wonder what he had for me. I know, of course, that Jesus told a story in which the Son of Man comes to the nations in just such a distressing disguise. But I don’t know that this man was Jesus. In fact I’m aware even as I tell you this story that we share a predisposition to moralize from it, to turn it into a hyper-spiritualized encounter that assists our Christian virtual reality. The Christian-virtual-reality way of telling this story would be to make this man into, if not Jesus, at least an angel, because there are a lot of black angels in white stories. And yet to do that is to make him into a prop in our Christian Holodeck, to make him into a moving closing illustration in my pious banquet address—an address for which I am being handsomely paid, I should add, and for which he, in his role as the Other from Deepest Africa, will receive nothing, meaning that even to countenance such a spiritualization of the story is to deepen the distance between him and me.

To construct our own comfortable, virtual-reality in the guise of Christianity is such a great temptation. I'm still trying to get that all to sink in.

exultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo

posted by Peter at 11:07 AM
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