zines on tragedy and virtual churches

There are those in the Christian faith who will say of any tragedy that it is still “part of God’s plan.” Such a theology does not respect how far senseless violence is from God and it does not let people fully grieve, let alone acknowledge the grief of God as stupid, senseless loss. This isn’t God’s plan&emdash;this is sin, this is evil, this is turning away from everything that God wills for human flourishing.

— Susan Brooks Thistlewaite, President of Chicago Theological Seminary, for Newsweek.com’s “On Faith” series, following Monday’s tragedy on the Virginia Tech campus.

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From Slate.com’s “Human Nature” section:

Virtual churches are sprouting in Second Life. Many are online branches of real churches, with streaming video of live sermons. Rationales: 1) Cyberspace is another frontier for evangelism. 2) Where better to reach the unsaved? 3) It’s no weirder than the current practice of broadcasting to real-life satellite churches where congregants watch services on screens. Secular critique: Second Life should be for fantasies like sex, not drudgeries like church. Religious critique: Church, like sex, is more exciting in the flesh. Social critique: Real religion consists of good works in this world, not pretending to worship in another. Half-cynical view: Conversations in Second Life churches are less fake than the “good-sermon-nice-weather exchanges” in real churches. Fully cynical view: Most churchgoing is fake, so why not let your avatar do it for you, like sending your kids to Sunday school.

Ouch!

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5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Melanie on April 18, 2007 at 11:29 am

    Steve,
    If you don’t mind, I’d like to steal that quote from you (regarding the VT shootings) and post it around. What a succinct way to put that.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Steve on April 18, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    Steal away, Mel =)

    It is a good one.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Mandy on April 19, 2007 at 10:35 am

    I stole it too.

    Reply

  4. What happened this past Monday at Virginia Tech was a horrific tragedy. It was sinful. It was evil. My prayers, thoughts, and deepest condolences go out to the victims, the students, the faculty, and the families of the whole Virginia Tech community – especially the friends and family of the victims. I pray that they might find comfort and grace in this time of grief.

    That said, it is inaccurate to assert – in a large incomprehensible sense – that this is not a part of God’s ultimate plan. God is Sovereign. He is fully powerful and fully in control. We can take comfort in the truth that “in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8)

    But of course, this evil was certainly evil. Cho obviously rebelled against God’s moral will.

    Always check what the theology professors are saying with what Scripture says. I don’t know what the theologian’s intention is (or what your intention is for quoting her). But both of you are saying things about God that are inaccurate.

    Perhaps now would be a great time for all of us to dive into the book of Job. I hope that I am not making the same error that Job’s “friends” did.

    God bless.

    Reply

  5. Posted by Melanie on April 19, 2007 at 6:16 pm

    I wonder if we toss around the phrase “God’s Plan” and think of it as a sequential, event-to-event plan. Does it have to be that way? Is it possible that “God’s Plan” actually exists on a larger scale with far less definite perimeters? That perhaps His plan is merely that as many of his children as possible will recognize him as father? Then He works in and through the events in our lives, working in both good and evil, to bring that greater plan to fruition? No theologian here; just speculating.

    Reply

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