Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.

11/19/2007

The Incarnation vs. Cyberspace


I remember clearly retired bishop Marc Dyer saying, "The Incarnation is not virtual reality." He was no web-fearing Luddite, yet Bishop Marc realized that God becoming human in Jesus was a real time event in the real world and so Christianity also involves real people getting together in real ways. This doesn't mean that we don't or can't find God in cyberspace. I like to think Irenic Thoughts is one of millions of places on the vast World Wide Web that grounds readers in things divine.

This came to mind when I saw the New York Times article on a boot camp to help South Koreans break their Internet addiction. The nation boasts a large and growing number of wired citizens tapping in to their fast, inexensive web access. The article notes,
It has become a national issue here in recent years, as users started dropping dead from exhaustion after playing online games for days on end. A growing number of students have skipped school to stay online, shockingly self-destructive behavior in this intensely competitive society.

Up to 30 percent of South Koreans under 18, or about 2.4 million people, are at risk of Internet addiction....They spend at least two hours a day online, usually playing games or chatting. Of those, up to a quarter million probably show signs of actual addiction, like an inability to stop themselves from using computers, rising levels of tolerance that drive them to seek ever longer sessions online, and withdrawal symptoms like anger and craving when prevented from logging on.
The article tells of a government funded program to break the cycle of Internet addiction for those mostly male users considered to be at the highest risk. The article tells of the treatment:
They also follow a rigorous regimen of physical exercise and group activities, like horseback riding, aimed at building emotional connections to the real world and weakening those with the virtual one.
This article reminds me that while Christianity should make use of cyberspace, it should be done in a way that grounds what is on the web in reality. For Jesus was very real and very realistic. He was very earthy. While I like to think he has no problem with our using the Internet as a tool, I can't kid myself into thinking that a he came to save a virtual world.

Bishop Marc was right. The Incarnation is not virtual reality. Whatever we do in terms of the time and emotional energy spent in cyberspace, it should help us to better connect to real people in the real world. An email to a friend going through a difficult time can make the difference, but it will never beat a hug, or even sitting quietly by someone in Intensive Care Unit.

That's my take. What do y'all think?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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5 Comments:

  • At 11/19/2007 9:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You're right! Hugs are so much better!!! A few years ago, I issued the "I Love You" challenge to all of my friends and family online. It seemed too easy to send Love via the computer, but to say, "I love you" face to face was so difficult. I asked everybody that I knew online to practice saying "I Love You" to at least three people each day, face to face.

    That night I attended mass with several of my "online" friends. Before the service, our priest, who was in my email address book, got up and said, "I just wanted to tell y'all that I love each and every one of you." I don't have to tell you what happened during the Peace that evening! :)

    So, yes, the internet is a great tool to establish and maintain contact. But, the REAL WORLD with hugs and I love you's is extra wonderful by comparison!

     
  • At 11/19/2007 11:02 AM, Blogger Rhonda said…

    So true Father Frank, for me it is much easier to say things via e-mail. A fault of mine, I am much braver writing my feelings than being present to see the reaction of the person I am talking to.

    A Hug is much better in person as is an I Love You! We often need that touch or smile. Just to know can make a world of difference.

    About 6 months ago I spent the last week of my husband’s grandmother’s life in the hospital sitting with her so she would not be alone. It made a difference, in her last days and in my life. We never got along very well but in the end we loved each other more. She had said the words I longed to hear I Love You! These words will be with me forever because I heard her say them.

    This human contact is what matters, an e-mail is wonderful but it will never replace the touch of another’s hand, arms a smile or I love you.

     
  • At 11/19/2007 12:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I love you Rhonda! I didn't get to give you a hug after the service yesterday! Sometimes the internet can help make up for those lost moments, but its never as good as the real thing!

     
  • At 11/19/2007 12:54 PM, Blogger Rhonda said…

    Thank you, I love you too! And your cyber hug!! lol.

     
  • At 11/20/2007 1:12 PM, Blogger Loren said…

    I had lunch with Bishop Dyer today and told him he was mentioned on your blog. He said "hmm...do I want to know what he said?" :)

     

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