Saturday, March 26, 2005

Method Acting In The Virtual Revolution

DeNiro does it well.....immersing himself into his roles so much so that he alters himself physically by losing/gaining weight so as to best convey his character. As one of the consummate method actors of our generation, he arguably has been one of the best at entering into the totality of the character's life.

As one of the proponents of "doing" church "simply"- (i.e., no buildings, no staff, no overhead, greater intimacy/relational connection, seeing God do some crazy-good things, depth and flexibility, meeting wherever you want/can...etc.)- I often muse over where I actually live my life's the incomparable successes, experiences and connections of my peers online OR in the real world, (wherever that may be right now)?

Ever feel like you're in a dinghy in the immerjing church blogosphere whilst others unfurl plush multi-masted sails? Ever feel like you just don't measure up?

Am I living or just performing?

Maybe I should just relax.

Let me say this..........I want to and will follow what is happening on the cyberspheric front as we explore new ways of communication that technological advancement is affording us. I acknowledge that it has been an impetus for my personal growth and maturity. But as one new thing comes around the bend and gets linked-to or blogged-about, there it is....the subtle pressure to jump on, to measure up, to be "with" it. To not get left behind.

Have I subtly replaced the past drive to achieve/arrive/perform in the old ecclesiastical setup with a new to achieve/arrive/perform in this cyberspheric form of this ecclesial revolution? To be the one to pump out the next mind-bending blog, article or tool?

(You know I know this is MY aren't causing this. I am responsible for what I do with what goes on inside of me).

Am I too busy trying to contruct my personhood ONLINE while sacrificing something of myself off it? I sometimes can't even muster the effort to maintain a worthy blog because I see it as a discipline, but from the vantage of my UN-discipline. I struggle with finding the equilibrium of electronic connectivity. Sometimes I do fear I am too wired-in, driven by the lust of conceptual image-brokering.

And are we just going to be reduced to that? Is this the destiny of at least this part of our being- that, as the conceptual image-smiths riding the initial crest of the revolutionary wave, we'll only have it fold in over and upon itself once the media machine learns the language/images of the revolution (as they are doing)?

How often will we have to linguistically reinvent ourselves and our "image" (intended or not) for the sake of the revolution? And is the revolution's online presence the same as the one in the neighborhoods?

But I know the ones I run with who talk about this stuff. They live it. Their lives are the treatise upon which everything they say stands. Some can argue as to whether or not anything is emerging and can make a worthy case one way or another. But I have chosen to engage in this revolution unashamedly. Truly, my notion of "church" has revolved (and still stands ready to). I thirst for the simple, disciplined forms that create and nurture growth in community, but not as a rehashing, but in a way that is appropriate for our frame of reference, or context.

And I think I suffer from a warpage of cyberspace/time. Can my experience of the Kingdom be on the same timetable and be spatially equal with someone else's on my computer screen, as they report it? These are reports of past events after all (or they are hopes or aspirations of/for things to come). My experience of the Kingdom of God becomes relative to yours. I know what it is because you and I experience something similar. But as denizens of the net, we have so many temptating choices to focus on regarding our frame of reference. But, at the risk of sounding too simplistic (as I know it is true), our only frame of reference can be Christ. Digital transmissions and arranged photons cannot be the ultimate measure of my being.

While most of the inspiration for the revolution is bred online, nothing but the substantiation of local face-to-face interaction can satisfy. Virtual reproductions cannot suffice alone.

Thank God my regional proteges, my spiritual mentors, friends and faith community- most of whom have an online persona- have made themselves relationally available and often go to great lengths to be present to each other.

Nothing new here, just a caution thrown toward the spirit of technological inevitabalism poised on the corners of the Kingdom.