i just came from one of our most amazing up/rooted gatherings ever with Ed Phillips of Garrett.. I’ll be posting a summary on the site soon, but i have to get some thoughts/reflections out while they are still fresh.

concerning worship/liturgy and reality/virtual reality:

he spoke of 19th century revivalism, particularly Charles Finney and how he redefined our understanding of worship through “newness” and “technique.” The search for the new became a revivalistic technique to wow people into conversion. Also, “technique” came into play as a means of manufacturing “conversion.” Worship then only becomes a devise for creating conversion, it is employed for/toward the effect of conversion. Therefore, worship becomes a type of fashion, useful for generating an effect. now, for a while I’ve also thought that there are many parallels to 19th C. revivalism and the contemporary worship movement, but replace the touring “evangelist/preaching” with “worship leader.” a good quote from Ed on the consequences of this is “All liturgical differences are theologically arbitrary b/c they are only evaluated by their anthropological effect.”

but the really heavy hitting stuff concerned reality/virtual reality:

virtual reality pretends to be reality, but is not, like fake flowers in my parents house. They are a faxsimile. True art is not virtual reality, but a participation/representation/invitatin into reality. Bad art, or bland reproduction is virtual realty. we have succumbed to virtual reality b/c rather than having stained glass window, we have projected images of those windows without making them into a new kind of art.

But the really question is, “how often do we fall into virtual worship, instead of the real worship.” tentatively, we fall into virtual worship when we try to make worship happen– through “new”, complelling drama, multi-media presentations, etc.- rather than join what is already happening before the throne of God. Worship is joining into the story of salvation, not merely an experience. Virtual worship is trying to copy/manufacture what is happening in heaven, rather than participating/joining with it.

This leads into a discussion of stained glass and Icons and how they are really real rather than virtual; how worship forms us into the gospel; and how “real” the Eucharist is (are the elements virtually real in light of the what they stand for? or are they really real symbolically????) but i’ll leave these for another time.

praise the lord for conversation partners (b/c none of these thoughts were my own before we all talked about it tonight.)

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