There Is No Virtual Ecclesia
And after giving this some thought I think I want to say that the problem with online churches and internet campuses isn’t that it’s not church… it’s that it is just church enough to be dangerous.
What I mean by that is this: because it has all the easiest and most instantly gratifying parts of community without the harder parts, it ends up misshaping us.
No, in an internet campus I never need to see that person I “just don’t get along with.” I don’t have to listen to so-and-so tell me about their hard week (again). I see NO needs around me and so feel zero compulsion to move to meet them.
And that’s the problem. The absence of those things forms me. But not in a good way.
When I am taught week after week after week, more and more sermons, more and more content, and yet never asked by someone who sees me week after week and knows me how I am or am not applying what I am learning, I am being formed. But again, not in a good way…
At first, the devout Muslims who gathered in a Washington, D.C., conference center seemed like they could have come from any mosque. There were women in headscarves and bearded men who quoted the Quran.
But something was different. While mingling over hors d’oeuvres, they discussed how to change Islam’s future. A woman spoke about fighting terrorism; she had married outside the Islamic faith, which is forbidden for a Muslim woman. A Pakistani man mentioned his plans to meet friends for drinks, despite the faith’s ban on alcohol.
In a corner of the room, an imam in a long gray tunic counseled a young Muslim with a vexing spiritual conflict: being gay and Muslim. The imam, also gay and in a relationship, could easily sympathize with the youth’s difficulties.
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