Sunday, April 19, 2009

Space and ecclesiology

This article is becoming something of a "thread" to record articles that might be significant for thinking about ministry in a setting where the "virtual" in some way is an element of the environment.

Graham Ward is one of the Radical Orthodoxy theologians, and has given a paper entitled Spirituality, Analogy and Desire.

The paper has deep implications for the notion of spatiality and Christian community.

This reminds me of an insight I had last night. Of the "traces" of the first Christian communities which are dear to us, the most prominent ones are those which were written from a distance - within Christian community, but not within physically proximal Christian community. The very distance defined and constituted the form, or genre, of these messages: a messages in epistelatory form - i.e., letters. Besides the gospels, it is only in these letters that the Holy Spirit speaks in such a way that we recognize in them the very Word of God.

Apostles of the early church could have very well transcribed sermons - or their liturgies. They could have transcribed dialogues taking place amongst members (dialogues were also a known genre - as Plato makes obvious). However it is specifically in the genre of words meant to cross a physical distance that we recognize this unique presence and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

I may be using this post as something of a marker for possible interesting reads in the area of theology & online ministry.

One I hope to read soon: Leon Schults -
"Religious Symbolism at the Limits of Human Engagement." Chapter for a book to be published with the International Society for Science and Religion. Deals with Peirce and Neville.

Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist, notes that people who are tempted to cheat, when the prize is money, cheat less, than the case when the prize is tokens which can be exchanged for money ... something to reflect on re. "virtuality" and how "virtuality" can encourage certain behaviors, including intentional deception, and also self-deception.

A short story that's sort of a fable about Postmodernism (in themes - duplicity, masks, fragments & mimesis ... and in literary device) - - reminds me somewhat of the closing of Foucault's Pendulum and what Umberto Eco has to say about language and the body with the cancer patient and mutating DNA sequences

There are a great number of articles about the problems of "Postmodern" society especially as influenced by the internet and the whole internet / virtual world problem. A challenge will be finding some of the best ones - best summaries pointing to primary sources, and also best new, fresh insights. I've seen/studied quite a lot of postmodern primary sources - i.e., Derrida, Foucault, Lacoue-Labarthe, Paul Deman, Lyotard, as well as their background - largely phenomenology: Husserl & Heidegger. Note: there is a lot here which Christians are likely to find rather repulsive, however careful study also reveals some things which can be used fruitfully in philosophy and theology. Especially the way they call to question certain Enlightenment (and Romantic) presuppositions which aren't particularly scriptural, and are somewhat non-rational.

Here also is a humorous piece, Internet Age Writing Syllabus and Course Overview

Also relevant re. space & ecclesiology: Tim Keller's thinking on the City - pdf notes

Less related:

On church planting, Tim Keller "Why Plant Churches" - also The Missional Church, Advancing the Gospel into the 21st Century Part III: Context sensitive - all linked here