Monday, January 02, 2006

Jonathon Last: God on the Internet

Last in First Things writing on God Blogs and the internet.

Long esasy I've read and will reread, but two quick quotes on authority and the disappearance mystery because of the net,
Another concern is how the Internet is demystifying religion. One of Joseph de Maistre’s pet theories was that the authority of the Church depended in large part on mystery. Blogger Mickey Kaus recently wondered if the notion of mysterious silence on the part of religious institutions has become outmoded: “If you were a respected authority you used to be able to get away with maintaining a meaningful silence. Now you’ve got to be blogging in your own ‘unique voice’ about every little thing that comes up, or else some ambitious lesser authority who posts more frequently will steal your flock.”
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Whether or not authority suffers from the disappearance of mystery, certainly the power of ritual is diminished by having every conversation in the sacristy broadcast for public consumption.
And his conclusion on the internet and its lure towards thinner and thinner air.
A tool for co-laboring. That’s the most we might hope for. And in the days of Pope Pius XIII and ceaseless politicking and Spiritual Weightloss, even that much seems a pipe dream. The great blessing of the Internet is that it lets people find each other. Of course, this is the great curse of the Internet as well—for not only can model-train collectors share their joint enthusiasm, but so can anti-Semites, child molesters, and gang members. But even at its best, the Internet is a weakening of reality, and with its consumer satisfactions, politicizing impulses, and substitutions for the body, it constantly lures us up into thinner and thinner air. Isn’t religion supposed to enrich the world around us instead? Shut off your computer. Take a deep breath. Go to church.

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