Can I Attend Church Via a Human Uber?

Can I Attend Church Via a Human Uber? February 20, 2018

I’m going to share links to several articles and blog posts here that I think will be of interest to readers of this blog. The first couple are ones that I actually was involved in directly, starting with a podcast interview for the series “Can I Say This At Church?” When Seth Price contacted me about the possibility of appearing, certainly the fact that he wanted to talk about science fiction was a draw. But even more so, the title of his podcast series resonated with me. I am not unaware that the church community that I am a part of, within which context I teach a Sunday school class, is one in which I certainly can say things that others feel they cannot say in the church context in which they find themselves. Conscious of the privilege I have, I want to be sure to speak in a way that helps enable others to have the courage to speak up as well. I’ll embed the podcast here, for your convenience:

I also spoke with the media recently about the use of human ubers to do jobs for oneself at a distance. The idea is not as ludicrous as it appears, if you ask me. On the other hand, the specific scenario that I mentioned in the title of this post did not come up in that context, namely having someone attend church on your behalf, with a screen showing your face placed over theirs. That headline was mostly in the interest of combining the two subjects I wanted to include in this post, namely my discussion of Theology and Science Fiction on the podcast and my discussion of human ubers with a reporter from Vice. But the scenario is worth thinking about, since doing so may get at the heart of why certain uses of human ubers seem inappropriate or at least not meritorious (church attendance or helping your friend move when in fact someone else is doing the heavy lifting, literally and/or metaphorically). This in turn can help us recognize whether and to what extent the basic concept – perhaps without obscuring the face of the person that is representing you – might have a place in our futures.

At any rate, you can read the article about human ubers in which I am quoted on the Vice website. Let me know what you think of it, and also of the podcast!

Let me end by sharing a call for papers that is also related to this topic. Here is an excerpt from the call:

Grants awarded to thirteen scholars of religion and theologians, from a broad swath of
academic disciplines and religious traditions, will support individual research projects
that explore technology and presence as public theology. (Three journalist grantees will
also participate fully in the program.) Over the course of three years, the grantees will
gather yearly at the Institute of Buddhist Studies for meetings and presentations about
their ongoing work, with conference meetings and virtual meetings in addition.

Click through to read the rest!


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  • John MacDonald

    I know a number of elderly people who are basically shut-ins who don’t leave their homes who would probably love the experience of getting a Human Uber to help them experience going to church.

  • Phil Ledgerwood

    I don’t know about church, but there are several holiday parties where I wouldn’t mind hiring out the ol’ human Uber to stand in for me.

    BTW: This almost requires the name HUber, which suggests some trendy variants, like Hubr or Hubris.