Ecclesia and Ethics II: Week 1

On Saturday I participated in the second annual Ecclesia and Ethics Online Conference. The first paper from Walter Kim. He discussed the Temple, worship, a theology of space, and the virtual world. We had a good conversation during the Q&A about so-called virtual campuses from local Churches. For those who were in attendance who would like to think about this subject more I’d recommended Douglas Estes, SimChurch: Being the Church in the Virtual World.

The second paper came from John Mark Reynolds. He gave an interesting presentation on how education used to be tied to geography, but in the digital age one doesn’t have to travel somewhere to get an education; education can come into our homes. As a student living in San Antonio, TX, studying through Trinity College, Bristol/the University of Bristol in the UK, this was a discussion relevant to my own experience as a student.

Then I gave a presentation during the break-out sessions on “Status Anxiety, Social Media, and Discipleship”. It was a recorded session that can be watched later by people who have registered. If you are one of those people make sure to pay attention to an announcement from the organizers regarding how to go about viewing my talk and those of other break-out sessions. Also, tomorrow I post my notes from the presentation.

The afternoon sessions were all informative and challenging. William M. Struthers presented on “Pleasure without Presence: Exploring the Psychological and Spiritual Impact of Online Sexuality and Entertainment”.  This presentation included a lot of interesting data, especially as relates to childhood development and how media impacts our attention span.

Scott B. Rae then presented on “A Theology of Work for the Digital Age”. He had much wisdom to share regarding work having intrinsic value and how work can be something we do unto God. I had the privilege of moderating this session and although I had some technical difficulties the session went well.

Derek C. Schuurman presented on “Shaping the Digital World: Faith and Computer Technology”. I gathered from his talk that we need to aim to be balanced when using technology in our communities and extremes are usually dangerous. Our approach to technology will impact our lives greatly. This talk pairs well with the one given by Struthers.

Bill Mounce presented on “Can Virtual Education be Community-based, Holistic, and Transformative?” He emphasized how education needs to be heart, mind, soul — holistic. Can virtual education do this? Can it be anything more than information transfer?

Michael Bird ended the day with “Blogging in the Name of the Lord: What is the Value of Christian Blogging and Other Social Media?” He addressed the perks and pitfalls of blogging as a Christian. He asked us to consider what it means to be distinctly Christian online. Great question!


4 thoughts on “Ecclesia and Ethics II: Week 1

  1. Sounds very interesting… “virtually” all of it :). I have interest in these subjects and appreciate the referral to the book I’d not known about. Having checked it at Amazon, I see it has a 2009 copyright. Do you find things have gone sort of how the author expected? What, if any, significant differences?… accelerations perhaps?

  2. Honestly, while 2009-2013 would seem to indicate that there have been major advancements one way or another, I don’t see it. I don’t hear much about Second Life Churches. I continue to hear about “online campuses”, but I don’t think that these expressions are taking too large a slice of the pie from traditional meetings in brick-and-mortar locations. While technology increases at a very rapid pace it doesn’t seem as if social media has. Facebook and Twitter have retained surprising dominance. Many people seem to be getting their heads around video conferencing, which means that it is unlikely that they’ll make the leap to virtual worlds anytime soon (other than in video games). I’ve never entered anything like Second Life myself. So while Estes’ book is dated 2009 I think it remains relevant to 2014. I don’t see that much change yet.

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