Part of Hacking Christianity’s mission is to examine Christian symbols and find parallels to contemporary culture. To that end, consider what you can do in Cyberspace these days:
- You can create a virtual character in World of Warcraft and spend years perfecting her. This isn’t your daddy’s SimCity, this is a way of life and pasttime for some people.
- You can create a blog with dozens or hundreds of readers, a virtual congregation whom you have never met.
- You can have more Facebook “friends” than real friends. You can make online friends with people when the real world friends let you down. So completely can this impact your life that if someone is malicious to you, it hurts just the same as being bullied at school.
This poses a problem to Christianity. One of the tenets of Christianity is that Jesus is God-with-us, Emmanuel, human. How do we preach the Incarnation in a world where we can craft virtual space so easily and completely?
The Bible is of little help. The Bible was written to agrarian societies where all they had was what was real and tactful…if there were any PlayStations on the shepherd’s hills, they haven’t been found yet. Even hallucinogenic drugs that would create virtual experience were not common.
So the best biblical metaphors are real, tactile: gathering manna like dew, lost sheep, raising people from the dead, unbinding Lazarus, touching cloaks, the rugged wood of a cross. In a society where that was the real deal, this was powerful. In our society where we can make our own reality, how is the Incarnation relevant?
I don’t have an answer yet…that’s why this is a pondering. My first steps may be towards the imminence of God’s presence, where you can’t log off from God’s love, where you can never unplug and step away. But that is not Incarnational directed at Christ, that’s a statement about God.
Perhaps a better step would be to compare the life of Jesus with the actual crafting of characters in WoW, of a blogging conversation, of immersing in the rhythms of a twittered life. The story of Jesus is unfinished, still in process. Christ is ALIVE, not dead, but alive forevermore. Because of his eternal life, Christ invites you to be a part of Christ’s life. Because Christ’s life involves transformation, you can be involved in the crafting of Creation.
No one wants a level 99 Orc, or a finished blog, or a Facebook account that “has enough friends.” There is an invitation to an unfinished project, and perhaps that’s how virtual never-completed crafting of worlds can be linked to the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.
Thoughts? I’m really struggling with this this morning after I found a new “hacking Jesus” conversation partner. I’d like to invite you to the conversation.