What Would Jesus Blog?

Tag: Cliff College

Simulation

by on Nov.07, 2010, under Digital Eucharist?

This week at work, Craig and I were talking about authenticity, and how so much of what companies rely on is the feel of authenticity, rather than genuinely being authentic. How much do consumers realise it, and how much do they care? They rely on simulation – much of human endeavour does. The French philosopher Jean Baudrillard explored this in his later life – in particular in Simulation & Simulacra. Incidentally, it’s the book Neo takes the minidisk out of in The Matrix in the scene before he notices the girl with the white rabbit tattoo – the concepts for that film are so based on S&S, I’m glad they payed homage!

Baudrillard describes three levels, or orders, of simulation. The first he describes as ‘natural, naturalistic simulacra: based on image, imitation and counterfeiting’ – a very healthy process of seeing what exists, and copying it for artistic effect or enhancement. Taking a photograph of something produces a likeness of that thing, but it doesn’t claim to be anything more than a photograph. No matter how much you want it to be case, you’ll never have Jeri Ryan on your bedroom wall, but you can have a damn fine poster that makes the room infinitely geekier. Just me then?

The second he describes in terms of the simulation obscuring the real, as a way in which the real can be hidden. The example he gives is the efforts that industrial operations go to in order to hide the level of exploitation inherent in production from the workers, and how a nations that relies on heavy industry might typically try to keep the workers’ dreams modest in order to avoid discontent. If workers could see how much they were being exploited, they would rebel – so the simulation is used to hide the reality, and although they can see that it’s a simulation, they cannot see what’s real to compare.

The third order, the hyper-reality, he describes as concerning ‘simulation simulacra: based on information, the model, cybernetic play’. The simulation replaces the real such that the real is no longer the source of the simulation but rather the product, or the replacement. What can be perceived is the simulation that claims to be reality – the shallow image of what exists has been detached from what exists to be a shallow image, which in and of itself, is all that can be seen. This is distinctly unhealthy, and is the greatest threat to authenticity in contemporary society as it is difficult to distinguish the simulation from the real, and often the simulation offers what appears to be all the benefits of the real without the inherent complexities.

What’s worrying is times when I see hints of third-order simulacra in everyday life – friendship defined by Facebook, relationships defined by the outward appearance rather than what’s beneath. My generation seem to be fairly adept at telling the difference – we see simulations for what they are, for the most part. The generations coming up behind us – well, that’s what another blog post is for :)

1 Comment :, , , , , , , more...

Thesis

by on Nov.07, 2010, under Digital Eucharist?

For anyone who’s interested, my MA thesis can be downloaded here: Digital Eucharist. Plan is to blog my way through the research I did for it in a slightly more accessible format than a 15k word PDF :)

1 Comment :, , , , , , more...

Yoga

by on Mar.20, 2009, under Uncategorized

So, there’s a large group here at Cliff for a Yoga retreat weekend, involving lots of contortion and non-Christian spiritual endeavour (plus the sale of Buddhist and Hindu CDs and bong-like contraptions….) and it’s caused some great debates over the dinner table!

One side feel that having groups coming to Cliff to engage in non-Christian spiritual activity is wrong – that Cliff is a holy place (holy = set aside for God), and that the only worship that occurs here should be Christian. We make regular exceptions for Jewish groups, we might do the same for Muslim groups as our religions are related, but Hinduism and Buddhist spirituality is a long way removed from that of the Abrahamic faiths. This side of the argument feel that Cliff should have turned the group away, politely explaining that what they would be doing here didn’t fit with our views on spirituality and that they should find another venue. They feel that the very holy and Christian spiritual space that is Cliff has been invaded – not that they can’t worship God anywhere or that God needs special places to work, but that there should be places that are set aside for God and worship of him in a Christian way.

It’s worth noting that this group take yoga seriously – it’s not just a form of exercise but it is a spiritual endeavour for them.

The other side of the debate take a variety of views – from knowing that Cliff needs the money and that a chance to take money from the hands of heretics and put it to God’s purposes is one that can’t be missed to arguing that Cliff should welcome everyone with open arms and show them Christian hospitality and the Christian lifestyle so that they can see the Gospel lived out properly.

Ultimately it’s a question of God’s mission – faced with a decision to make, how can Cliff best follow God’s purposes for this world? Jesus had no problem with kicking the dishonest money-lenders out of the temple because it’s God’s house but even at his last supper he dined with someone who he knew was going to betray him. As Christians we have a duty to protect the holy things from contamination but at the same time ask ourselves how we can tell people who aren’t Christians the good news of Christ.

So what do I think? Welcome them with open arms, let them use whatever they want to, pray for them, pray over the areas after they’ve left to get rid of any spiritual nasties but crucially talk to them and interact with them and show them God’s love. I’d rather we had a neutral space that we could just rent out without it necessarily being a spiritual issue – having them yoga where we worship brings it a bit to close for comfort….

7 Comments :, , , , more...

Tuesday Celebration

by on Feb.04, 2009, under Uncategorized

We’re messing around with new ways of doing Tuesday Celebration, now that we’ve moved it down to the Chatsworth room – it’s a fantastic space and means that we can really let loose (when we have the equipment :p). This evening’s offering was pretty funky – plenty of well-used media, coherent narrative that didn’t cause me to switch off, sound message, and only one or two technical glitches that we can learn from. I may even let my manuals take one meeting every two weeks for worship-related stuff as manual time, which I’m sure they’ll love.

One thing I really appreciated was that the worship wasn’t all luvvy-duvvy ‘Jesus is my boyfriend’ kinda stuff – that kinda thing really doesn’t represent how I feel about God! Michael Frost has an excellent chapter in his book Exiles about that – I highly recommend it. I was utterly despairing in the midst of such rubbish and then we sang a song that was all about how we all need God’s forgiveness, how God can forgive anyone who comes before him and asks for it, and how awesome it is that he offers it to us – and that right from day one we have to contend with one of the many paradoxes of Christianity – we don’t have to pay anything to receive God’s forgiveness but at the same time, it demands that we give over everything to God’s purpose.

1 Comment :, , , , , , more...

Life is a dancefloor…

by on Jan.07, 2009, under What Would Jesus Blog?

Or rather, the life of the people of God is much like a Shakespearean play – at least in one of the illustrations I’ve used in this essay I’m working on. I have no idea who first introduced me to this idea but I absolutely love it and I think it fits really well.

Think of the life of the people of God as if it were a Shakespearean play that is missing its fourth act, and we are filling in the gaps with our very existence. The first three acts are known – the characters are laid down, there’s more than enough in the Bible and in the testimony of literally millions of Christians over the years to have a good idea of who God is and how he reacts when his people do all kinds of horrible stuff against him, and good stuff for him. The final act is known – although not all New Testament eschatological writing is about the apocalypse by any means – and we know how it ends, new heaven and new earth and all that.

So what does this mean? Instead of rulebooks and lists of dos and don’ts (which many of today’s churches often make implicit rather than explicit – I hate it!) we need to put ourselves, both individually and corporately, in the place of an actor playing the part of the Christian in that fourth act. Does what we do line up with what God has praised in the past? Are we the people God wants us to be? Of course not – but the closer we get to God, the more we know and love Him, the more natural playing his supporting cast becomes. This isn’t a new idea at all – but one that we need to consider before we go on our next witch-hunt.

Incidentally, I went to see Yes Man with Mike the other day – it’s a great film, very funny but there’s one scene a few minutes in that I think really sums up the approach to evangelism that far too many churches take – Jim Carey’s character gets converted to this life-changing ethos by being publically humiiated, shouted down and pressured into accepting, but then doesn’t have the understanding of the concepts required to live it properly. I just can’t help but think of seeing people give their lives to Christ at rallies and the like and the church not being ready to disciple them properly – and comparing their testimony to that of people who got in with groups of Christians and over time saw a difference in them, and then accepted it for themselves. No judgement here on which is better – both bring people to Christ so both are good but I think they present different challenges that churches just aren’t ready for.

Leave a Comment :, , , , , , more...

Pay Day!

by on Nov.18, 2008, under What Would Jesus Blog?

There’s something nice about getting paid – bills get paid off, sometimes nice things get bought……but it’s also rather worrying when you look back and realise that most of your paycheque’s disappeared in next to no time. Ah well – got some good books in this month’s session….David Bosch’s Transforming Mission (well I couldn’t exactly do a missiology degree without it), Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody and Brian McLaren’s More Ready Than You Realize. Fun times!

Stayed with Cat this weekend – damn I love that girl! She looks after me :) And her living five minutes away from JRUL comes in very handy. I think I’ve actually got more books out now than I took out throughout the entirety of my first degree. This is what I imagined uni to be like – getting lost in a world of literature and it just never happened with my BSc, but it’s great fun now!

Youth Conference is coming up, it’ll be weird to be working on it rather than being a delegate – great to be going though. I can’t believe that I actually needed convincing to go!

Leave a Comment :, , , more...

Am I back?

by on Nov.09, 2008, under What Would Jesus Blog?

Will I keep up this whole blogging lark? Only time will tell! Right now I’m two months into my MA in Mission (Emerging Church) at Cliff College, been going out with Cat for getting on for 2 years now, and am enoying having no official role in the Methodist Church (at least until we start planning Breakout 2010 next year…)

What will I be blogging about here? Meh, who knows! Ramblings about life, love, politics, religion and obscure missiological themes I expect….or whatever spews forth from my mind at strange times in the morning when I decide to do silly things like stay up to watch elections. Enjoy!

Leave a Comment :, , more...

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!

Visit our friends!

A few highly recommended friends...