Friday, October 19, 2007

The rise of cyber-religion


The BBC has discovered that a third of ‘web worshippers’ actually prefer their cyber church to the real thing, and this got Cranmer thinking of the extent to which these virtual creations have supplanted reality, and what might be the consequences.

St Pixels is, apparently, a mega-church. It has 2000 members, for whom its existence ‘is the main or only contact with traditional Christianity’. Since Cranmer has not visited or heard a cyber-sermon, he has no idea if this is the BBC’s ‘traditional Christianity’, or if it is truly orthodox. But that aside, it is an undeniable challenge – as real as that faced by the Early Church when it had to communicated a Hebrew gospel to a Greek audience – of profound missiological importance.

Blogging, Podcasting, Facebook and other cyber pursuits have become the commonplace tools of communication for many religions. They meet the need for immediacy and immanence; they bring a feeling of individual significance, and offer escape from the inconveniences and conflicts inherent in dealing with real people. Perhaps more importantly, they afford the possibility of being what one is not; creating a virtual life to compensate for the mundane inanities of the tedium of existence; escape from the repetitive boredom associated with the modern era. They provide a cyber fellowship of cyber friends dispensing cyber advice without the need to ever meet face-to-face or to look one’s friend in the eye. As one 19-year-old student observes:

I've no idea what I'd do without the friends I've made in St Pixels - though I've never met them. I've made tons of close buddies in Scotland, Korea and England. No matter who you are, or where you're from, you will ALWAYS find someone here to talk to. It's like a family home, where the door is always open for friends and their friends. I was baptised a Methodist but that's as far as it goes. I don't currently attend a physical church.

St Pixels is supported by the Methodist Church, and may indeed offer a spiritually life-saving service for some who take part in discussions, pray for each other, worship together and play games. But one cannot ignore the addictive dimension of the virtual world. When one has tasted the Magic Kingdom, escaped to world without night, or pain, or crying, or shame, the need becomes increasingly stronger to visit it daily for the very necessary ‘fix’. Indeed, one’s day seems somehow incomplete if one has not cyber-communed with one’s congenial cyber-communicants, and felt their adulation, or heard their adoration.

But Cranmer refuses to be sucked into the world of postmodern relativism in which all knowledge is subjective and where subjectivity is truth, or where there is nothing but praise and appreciation. Religion is political, and politics brings a sword of division. Cranmer is not afraid to shine a light on that which is ugly, painful, distorted, deceitful, corrupted or shameful. In making his statements, he is not afraid to offend, for the cross is the very cause of offence, and its truth is foundational to his meaning and purpose.

Cyber-religion is utterly postmodern insofar as it contributes to the undermining of rationalism and foundationalism. There are no longer any universal intellectual tools such as logic, and there are no indubitable first principles from which to interpret ideas or experience. The fundamental basis of science is questioned or abandoned, and the further one progresses in scientific investigation the less one can claim pure objectivity in the formulation of what is known. Truth is encountered emotionally and intuitively, and there is a shift from the muffled majesty of grand narratives to the splintered autonomy of micro-narratives.

And in those micro-narratives, everyone may become the centre of attention - significant, prophetic, and god-like. The tragedy is that so very few say anything worth hearing, and the whole world of cyber spirituality becomes so utterly tedious that the phrase ‘blog-standard’ really ought to enter the cyber-vernacular.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Ultraviolents said...

It resembles Pentecostalism, which is tainted with the devil, along with rock music.

19 October 2007 at 14:01  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Ultraviolents,

You appear to have rather a monotonous fixation unbecoming of His Grace's august blog of intelligent and erudite comment.

What of the trumpet, psaltry and harp? Or is it simply the rock 'beat' that is demonic? And if so, what was the rhythm of the metric psalms? And how do you know?

19 October 2007 at 14:12  
Blogger Ttony said...

It's not often I can pronounce an unqualified "Amen!" to one of Your Grace's sermons, but, being able to do so, I certainly shall on this occasion.

The Internet is not the Church: it's the library. I can learn more about my religion at the library, often by reading things by those who believe in things that (I don't)(that are wrong).

But to fulfill God's (and the Church's) Commandments, I attend Church each Sunday, at least.

19 October 2007 at 20:39  
Anonymous Ultraviolents said...

David Bowie in Rolling Stone magazine (Feb. 12, 1976), stunned the music world, when he stated:

"Rock has always been THE DEVIL'S MUSIC . . . I believe rock and roll is dangerous . . . I feel we're only heralding SOMETHING EVEN DARKER THAN OURSELVES." (Rolling Stone, Feb. 12, 1976)

Rocker Frank Zappa (who discovered the awful truth December 4, 1993 the second he died) proudly boasted:

"I'm the devil's advocate. We have our own worshippers who are called 'groupies.' Girls will give their bodies to musicians as you would give a sacrifice to a god."

Of course they always joke, and they lather their blasphemy with sarcasm, which just underlines they are the inspired by the Devil and mock all things holy.

They also think that nothing is really serious, everything is just a joke, a great cosmic joke as Frank Zappa also stated.

You know in Hell, everything is a joke and has no meaning: the demons torture with impunity and without end.

I wish you (Cranmer) would more frequently take a hard line against the influence of the supernatural and superstitious running rampant through the world (because I think you're a useful ally in the war against Satanism.)

For instance:

1. Hinduism and all its illegitimate children such as relaxation meditation, theosophy, the kabbala, yoga, Wicca, Gaia, channeling, the Celestine prophecy, astrology, out-of-body experiences, astral projection, dream interpretation, transcendental meditation, feng shui, crystal idolatry, Buddhism, aromatherapy, runes, I Ching, and karma.

2. Rock Music with its pounding incessant beats. It is a form of channeling, the spirit they channel is the fallen spirit of the cosmic eros (the beating heart of darkness at the centre of romanticism).

3. Things that are "New" and are presented as being obviously better for being "New". It is a trick of the Antichrist, for he will come as a secular saviour and leader of worldly "progress".

3a. 'New' Labour would be a good example here. It has been reported that Tony Blair, the Prime Minister of Britain, and his wife engaged in a new age ritual in Mexico: “At a rebirthing ceremony in Mexico, Mr. and Mrs. Blair entered a brick-built pyramid in their swimming costumes, prayed to the four winds, smeared their bodies with mud, papaya and watermelon and were encouraged to cry out loud.”

Crying out loud? Probably a form of mediumism. Which leads us to:

4. Pentecostal and ecumenism: the edifice of blaspheme that is Pentecostalism makes me gag. For the Pentecostals idolise the cthonic (un)holy spirit and not Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour, the one born without sin - our only hope - the Pentecostals, these lucid ecumenists, idolise the evil spirit with which they inebriate themselves, and they never repent their myriad of sins. (This same foul smelling evil spirit manifests itself in Rock Music, indeed, there is now a little tradition of Christian Rock Music emanating from the Protestant heart land of America and metastasising itself across the world - See David Bowie quotation above)

5. The Catholic Church, which finally openly identified itself with evil by Vatican II.

According to the Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes:

"Human nature, by the very fact that it was assumed, not absorbed, in him [Christ], has been raised in us to a dignity beyond compare. For, by his incarnation, he, the Son of God, has in a certain way united himself with each man. (Gaudium et Spes, no. 22)"

Thus the core of the Christian experience as expressed in the Gospel of John, that Christ becomes accessible to those who believe in him, follow him, and live through him, was erased, or at least made unnecessary. Now every person was Christ-imbued, simply by virtue of being human.

This is the Christological--or rather the anti-Christological--basis of the Religion of Man announced Pope Paul VI at the closing session of Vatican II in December 1965.

This was the heretical, socialistic, pantheistic, New Age ideology of Vatican II, which formed the basis of Karol Wojtyla's own belief system. Many people still say that this Pope opposed secularism? Has there every been so gross an illusion--and so dangerous an illusion--shared by so many people?

6. The Youtube Website - Promotes the Anti-Christ, such as 'One-Worldism'. Also, promotes Communism, Nazism, Anti-Semitism (forms of gnosticism), and Jihad on the grounds of "Freedom of Speech".

7. Abortion on the grounds of 'convenience' - It is explicitly a sacrifice to Moloch. Notable offenders include the Blairs lifestyle "guru" Carol Caplin. (Incidentally Carol Caplin is a practitioner of witch craft and crystal idolatry)

8. The Cranmer blog. Cranmer has been dead for hundreds of years. Someone is channeling his spirit by taking his name and writing in his style. I pray for this soul, as I wouldn't wish accidental demonic possession on anybody.

19 October 2007 at 21:36  
Anonymous najistani said...

Seriously though, a cyberchurch can (potentially) reach places where no Christian preaching, Bible or even cross is allowed - such as Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and most of Pakistan.

19 October 2007 at 22:47  
Blogger Roland said...

Cyber-religion is utterly postmodern insofar as it contributes to the undermining of rationalism and foundationalism.

You say that as if were a bad thing. While postmodernity certainly offers no panacea, its undermining of rationalism and other modernistic errors might serve to clear the decks for the start of something better - or, better yet, the return to something older.

19 October 2007 at 23:17  
Blogger Wrinkled Weasel said...

"Cranmer has been dead (says ultravients) for hundreds of years. Someone is channeling his spirit by taking his name and writing in his style.

Yes. I thought it was a bit spooky too.

I often write in the style of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, but someone from Porlock keeps interupting me and I lose my train of thought.

In xanadu did kubla khan a pleasure dome erect...

See, now the ghost of Holly Johnson has got me and I am infected with post-modern irony.

19 October 2007 at 23:20  
Blogger The Tin Drummer said...

Your Grace, did you ever visit Church of Fools, run by the website Ship of Fools? I occasionally went to cyber-church there and found it interesting until people tried to engage me in obscene conversation.

29 October 2007 at 11:05  

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