Virtual Community? Virtual Incarnation?

I have often wondered what Marshall McLuhan has to say to theologians, and Christians. One man who has been asking these questions for a few years now is Shane Hipps. He is one of the few voices out there actually dealing with the theology of media.

Shane argues that Incarnation is the Medium by which God works in Christianity. Flesh and blood is a form of media by which the Divine chooses to work…

This is very much in line with what McLuhan has to say about Jesus in The Medium and the Light:

“In Jesus Christ, there is no distance or separation between the medium and the message: it is the one case where we can say that the medium and the message are fully one and the same.”

This “Flesh and blood” understanding of the message of Jesus is powerful but has a tendency to look at community that is not “flesh and blood” as counterfeit. In the following video Shanes explains why he denies the possibility of virtual community.

For perspective on media in theology that gives more room for virtual community look at what Chris Ridgeway is doing over at “Jesus Under Plastic”

I myself have a “virtual community” I love it dearly… All of you are a part of it!

Take a look at the video!

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I have Three questions for Shane:
1) You rightly say History is required for community. However I fail to see HOW virtual communities LACK a history. Many of my friends online are people I have had a long history with. Some I have been talking to me for years though we haven’t met. Some I talked to for years and were instant friends when I moved to Chicago. Others were friends I had from Michigan but I now only see online.

2) You talk about “message boards” but fail to take into account how we can now have “face to Face” contact over the Web. When my wife and I are apart we video Chat and play boardgames online Just like we do at home. It feels like she’s still with me even though she might be hundreds of miles away. I understand that we could not sustain a healthy marriage indefinitely that way, but why not a friendship and a community?

3) Why is Proximity contingent on “flesh and blood”? A simple question, that probably has no easy answer.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00201100210281589676 Jim

    This is pretty much a non issue to me. The idea that faith and community are somehow reliant on physical proximity is nonsensical. Though the medium God used to spread his message was the flesh and blood of Christ (which means a great deal to me because I'm Catholic and the Eucharist is a powerful thing to me.) implying that no great connection of faith can exist between people except form face to face interaction is simply wrong. Did not the Apostles write letters? Is not the Bible a tome set down by people of great faith with whom we share an intimate connection to? Beyond that, what of the Communion of Saints? Last I checked I haven't spoken to any saints face to face but I pray with them and feel a great connection to them.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01604198086150699972 Billy Kangas

    That's a great point Jim… I hadn't thought of that aspect of it…


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