iCampus Summary Post

This is a collection of questions and responses to various questions about internet campus. I invite you to read each post and add any comments on that post or by emailing me directly. Thanks!

iCampus – What about the incarnation?

This is a series of responses to questions about an internet campus from a previous series of posts. Do you have any other questions? Feel free to leave them in the comments and I will try to respond to each one. Thanks!

Matt Judkins offered this comment at LifeChurch.tv Internet Campus – Not (3 of 8) about a month ago:

Interesting. I think this begs a question about the nature of community within an online/virtual Church campus. We all know that community can form online. The question is this: what kind of community is it? Is it partial community that never materializes? If we follow a God who chose to self-reveal by incarnation, “in the flesh,” what are we to think about a virtual community that never incarnates?

What would be the nature of community for an internet campus? These are great questions and ones that give me the most hesitation when thinking about an internet campus. The best case scenario that I have in response to the first question is that persons would gather with others to worship together as a part of the internet campus. If a group of 6 to 12 or more met regularly with an internet connection and worshiped together there would be a physical community of which they were all a part. This would be preferable to individuals worshiping as a part of the internet campus on their own. However, even individuals in a room with a computer by themselves would be entering into a community of which they would not otherwise be a part. I think that community can exist online and as Clif reminds me – the potential to connect with others in this way has never before been possible in history.

What about the reality of God’s revelation through the incarnation? This question touches on an understanding of God and on an understanding of what it means to be the church. I would not want someone’s experience of church for their entire journey of faith to be as a physically alone individual as a part of an internet campus (see the previous question and also the question from a previous post – What about the sacraments?). I do believe that the people of the church should gather physically, but not necessarily all the time. God came to us physically once in history in the person of Jesus Christ and continues to be with us in the non-physical presence of the Holy Spirit. I believe that the Holy Spirit would be at work connecting those worshiping as a part of an internet campus.

I know that I need to keep thinking about these questions and I have The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture: How Media Shapes Faith, the Gospel and Church waiting for me at The Well Bookstore when I get back to church tomorrow. I also have on my list to read Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. Do you have any other resources – online, books or otherwise – that might be helpful in considering these questions?

What do you think about my responses? How would you respond to this question?

Guest Blog: Hope

This is a guest post from deviant monk. I recommend both his blog and podcast. Would you like to guest blog at Thoughts of Resurrection?

If you click on this in the past, you’ll have to wait for the future to listen to the podcast

On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.

Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.

Holy Week begins in a couple of days. Throughout this next week, if we slow down enough to notice it, we will come face to face with the vivid reality of suffering. This seemingly senseless aspect of our lives is something we try, hard as we may, to escape as much as we can.

But in the contemplation of Holy Week, we are forced to come to grips with this reality that never seems too far away, that never seems to go away. For as much as we feel society to have progressed in technology, in medicine, in knowledge, in mastery of nature, yet this very grim presence constantly haunts our lives, and can easily strip the meaning from the rest of it.

In Holy Week we find that even God must suffer. We all face this inescapable truth- to be human is to suffer. We cannot escape it, we cannot shake it off. As Pope Benedict says in his encyclical “Saved In Hope”,

Indeed, we must do all we can to overcome suffering, but to banish it from the world altogether is not in our power. This is simply because we are unable to shake off our finitude and because none of us is capable of eliminating the power of evil, of sin which, as we plainly see, is a constant source of suffering.

In the face of so much suffering, in the reality of even the Son of God sharing the same lot as the rest of us, how are we to find hope? Perhaps it is really all just meaningless, senseless, purposeless.

However, Holy Week reminds us that suffering is not meaningless. In fact, it is from this participation in our suffering that God sheds hope abroad into the world. As was mentioned, we cannot eliminate suffering. as Pope Benedict says:

Only God is able to do this: only a God who personally enters history by making himself man and suffering within history. We know that this God exists, and hence that this power to “take away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29) is present in the world. Through faith in the existence of this power, hope for the world’s healing has emerged in history.

Through God’s uniting of Himself with humanity, God united to Himself our suffering. God was not content that our suffering should remain ours and ours alone- God shared in our suffering by suffering with us. It is in the midst of this sharing of suffering that love and hope are born. Pope Benedict says:

Indeed, to accept the “other” who suffers, means that I take up his suffering in such a way that it becomes mine also. Because it has now become a shared suffering, though, in which another person is present, this suffering is penetrated by the light of love.

When we try to comfort those who are suffering, we offer them consolation. In English this is at best the kind words we can offer those in pain, and at worst the token words we offer out a sense of obligation. But ‘consolation’ comes from the Latin “con-solatio”. Literally, it means ‘not alone.’ Consolation is meant to go beyond words and platitudes and wishes for hope and health and better days- consolation is ‘being with’ the one who suffers. The one who is alone, who suffers alone, ceases to be alone, ceases to suffer alone. Simeon in the Gospel was waiting and hoping for the ‘consolation of Israel’. That consolation came through none other than Immanuel- “God with Us.”

To love thus becomes to suffer and to suffer with others. Love must deal a painful death blow to the rights and intentions that belong to ‘I’. In that death of self is opened up the capacity to love others.

In this suffering alongside others, in this consolation is hope born. But it is still hope- it is not yet a reality. We still face the pain of our often bitter lives and the final sting of death that will befall us all.

The glory of Holy Week is that it ends not in suffering, but in a resurrection. It is on this event that the Christian hope is founded- the hope that suffering is not the end, that death does not have the final say and that somehow all of this means something. The God who created all things became like us to suffer with us and for us. In the Incarnation and the Passion and the Resurrection is wrapped up all of human history- all of our sins, all of our injustices, all of our suffering. In it all God demonstrated that Love makes suffering worthwhile- in the light of this grand exhibition we are empowered to, like God did for us, give the gift of ourselves to others. In this gift of self is an anticipation and deposit of the hope that we have- that Love is actually greater than suffering, and that there is meaning even in the senselessness of suffering. And since love comes from the One who is Love, we can have hope in its endurance beyond the fragmented years of our pain.

In the resurrection is the great hope of the Christian faith realized. Love is worth the pain we endure, and guarantees through faith the day when we will see the world set aright, and where Love will rule all.

So may we offer others consolation through not only our words, but also our presence.

May we remember that God became like us to suffer with us.

And may we hope in the resurrection, and believe that God is greater than our suffering.