Posts tagged with: Culture

Virtual Reality Introversion

Look ma, no dignity!

I'm pretty sure that in my lifetime virtual reality systems will become commonplace. They may not be at a level that's indistinguishable from reality but they will be good enough that people will spend a lot of time in them.

Seeing how obsessive people get today with MMORPG's like World of Warcraft, or even environments like SecondLife that aren't even based on a "game", it's pretty certain that a significant part of the population will just check out if given halfway convincing virtual reality.

There has always been a contingent of the population ready to check out in various ways. And while some people are naturally prone to some form of addiction I think this will affect vast numbers of people who would otherwise be considered normal as far as their addictive qualities.

I read an interesting article that speculates – theology aside – that the reason we've never encountered alien races is because after reaching a sufficient point in development, technological cultures will delve inward on themselves and focus on entertainment and gratification rather than self-improvement and exploration.

What should be our response as Christians to this eventuality? Will there be missionary groups sent to reach the lost souls trapped in this man-made "Purgatory". Would we be called to spend time in the virtual world to interact with these people. How would we prevent these missionaries from going native and being consumed themselves. (i.e. "in the virtual world but not of the virtual world".) If we refused to participate would we be seen in the same light as the world now views the Mennonite groups who eschew modern-day technology?

I'm not trying to imply that VR is inherently evil or that spending time in it would be much different than other forms of entertainment Christians currently partake in.1 But somehow this seems like something that would be more pervasive in its potential to absorb people rather than just a part-time dalliance. But maybe I'm just being a fundamentalist Luddite who can't accept the inevitable.

  1. That raises a different issue about the amount of time that we already spend on frivolities.

I Used To Believe

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 1 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV)

I recently came across I Used To Believe, a site full of the strange and humorous ideas people remember from childhood. I was surprised that so many similar fantastic ideas are arrived at independently among children. I never really realized that child logic, which is such a separate and independent form of cognition, would deduce so many similarities between individuals.

Here are a few of my own childhood ideas that I recalled while browsing the site:

  • Reports of Guerilla Warfare on the news conjured images of soldiers fighting armed gorillas in the jungle.
  • The television PSA's against Drinking & Driving pertained to any drink, and I scolded my mom for drinking a Pepsi in the car.
  • Every intersection in the city had a control room beneath the street filled with municipal employees whose job was to monitor the traffic and change the stop lights accordingly.

Modest Discovery

I've often wondered what would happen if there was a true discovery of a lost book of the Bible. Rather than something revelatory that would devastate the foundations of the Church it would probably be a modest work that would simply enhance what is already in the Bible.

Last year when The Da Vinci Code movie came out there were a lot of stories about the “Gospel of Judas” and other so called "lost" books of the Bible. Although the media portrays these as sensational events, biblical scholars know that these are not books that were lost, but were widely known about during the time the Bible was canonized. These writings were rejected because they didn’t conform to the true message of Christ. They weren't lost or forgotten about -- they were thrown away.

Even in their own lifetime the original disciples of Jesus had to spend energy combatting heresies that were creeping into the Church. In particular, much of the Apostle John’s writing was in response to the growing problem created by gnostic beliefs disguised as Christianity.

But what if there was a newly discovered work that could conclusively be proven to have been written by an Apostle, such as Paul? If it matched his writing style, and if the work didn't offer any new revelations (or blasphemies) but merely supplemented his other writings, what would be the response of the Church?

Would we accept it into the canon of Scripture or would it forever be a curiosity, a humble footnote. Perhaps we would accept it, believing that "in the fulness of time" God had revealed more of his Word.

Either way, I'm sure that some publishers would be quick to market a "Bible 2.0".

Cat Nativity?

Happy Birthday Jesus Kitty

We got a Christmas gift catalog in the mail filled with tasteless gift ideas. The catalog's cover features a "Cat Nativity". The set depicts the classic nativity scene, with all the main players represented by anthropomorphic cats, with an adorable sleeping kitty representing the Newborn King. What's next, a kittyfied Jesus on the cross?