Come, Let Us Worship Alone.

The Christian faith is not so much one based on old documents as it is a meandering faith based on whims of the marketplace.  Interpretations change as those in the pews change their perspectives on sin and hell. This meandering of “the faith”seems about to go in ever more directions.

An article in the Journal of Religion and Society entitled, “The Virtual Pilgramage…”, by Sarah MacMillion discusses worshipping on the computer.

She mentions a couple of worship sites one of which I looked at, .  The site is a virtual church experience.  It claims 5 million visitors a year.  MacMillion’s article says there are one million of these worship sites.

MacMillion writes that worship on the computer removes the concept of  place from the worship experience.  Gone is both the church and the alter in the church.  They are replaced with what she calls “congnitive space.”

The “fellowship” aspect of this worship experience is fascinating.  On this site, there isn’t any.

There is no physical encounter with the faith, no incense, wine, greetings, hugs or music.  The experience is abstract.

Unlike the previous technology that brought religion first on the radio and then television, the computer is different in that the worshipper controls the content. He shops among sites until he finds content he likes.

Like virtual college classes, virtual worship is far less expensive.  The popularity of this worship must be affecting church attendance.

And, each person gets to hear the message he chooses.


24 Responses

  1. Jon, a few things, if you don’t mind.

    As I’m sure you’re more than aware, not all Christians would support this approach to “church.” Certainly, we Orthodox wouldn’t. It does befit the “me and Jesus” approach that is oh so common in America, though.

    Also, I hear what you’re saying about “meandering” but I guess from my historically informed vantage point, I’d offer a few things to keep in mind. One is that historically, on the core dogmas, Orthodoxy has remained consistent down through the ages. Even liturgically, we offer something such Protestants don’t–liturgical worship from within a fourth century liturgy (which means, by the way, you won’t see us mistaking a website for the divine liturgy). Of course, some things have changed over time, such as how processions are done and we have added hymnography over the centuries, but adding some hymns (which generally are short and cycle through the year) is a flexibility built into that liturgical tradition. Also, when it comes to other aspects, I think one has to remember that tradition is dynamic. It doesn’t just mean codifying some “thing” that existed “back when.” “Tradition” is not just a noun but also a verb. it’s a both/and.

    Relatedly, one will see minor disciplinary things change over time in Orthodoxy in response to the culture and not everything was legislated in detail in the first. Finally, although all “Christians” are lumped together in your post, when it comes to tradition and historical trajectory and continuity, I don’t think that’s actually a fair assessment, as I think there’s a bit of equivocation going on here. On the one hand, all are lumped together to demonstrate “meandering,” but for “meandering” to work in its fullest sense, all Christians would have to constitute a single church body. Historically, Western Christians are in schism from the Eastern Orthodox Churches (including Roman Catholicism, despite our long shared history and closeness in many ways). So we actually have no disciplinary role to play in what other groups calling themselves Christian (even if not utilizing a Trinitarian baptism) choose to do.

    1. Rev. Herbel 3:12 Thanks for taking time to post a carefully considered view. Of course you are correct in noting large parts of the founding theology and rituals have not changed much.

      My interest happens to be in the church-pew perception of what the faith is about. If you were to eves drop on a conversations about faith issues important to people in my youth and compare it to today, it is my view the convesations would not overlap much. The issues preachers, at least protestant ones, talked about, people worried about for their own salvation, and religious issues discussed in the press were different between then and now.

      It seems likely to me that at this level, the computer will introduce a wider variety of ground-level perceptions of what the faith is all about.

  2. Henry

    “Come, Let Us Worship Alone.”

    I don’t see spiritual growth with this format. I’d much prefer an adult sunday school, followed by a stout worship service, followed by a delicious pot luck followed by a contentious voter’s meeting with much deliberation, followed by fellowship afterwards between the opposing congregants. This experience is much more real and fulfilling. Friendships and trust are solidified even between people of opposing opinions.

    1. entech

      That sounds like a very reasonable approach and a good way to do things. Does it happen very often? it is just that I can’t imagine any meeting ending until everyone agreed with you.

    2. Wanna B Sure

      Henry; I just have to say that a concious awareness of Divine Worship exercised through the Liturgy, (and what they actually are), is where fulfillment and trust is developed, eliminating opposing opinions. After that, a potluck meal and commonality of mission during your meeting would make for a most pleasurable experience. contentiousness is destructive not constructive, especially when feelings are hurt. Someone always looses, and the congregation looses the most. Thanks.

      1. Henry

        “contentiousness is destructive not constructive,”

        Everyone behaved themselves, albeit split votes requiring hand counts.

    3. Wanna B Sure

      Henry; Perhaps you could ask your pastor to provide an adult program in learning just what Divine Worsip and the Liturgy actually is. I suspect it would also be beneficial for your Pastor too. Sadly, today many churches have drifted away from the Liturgy, and the results are evident.

      1. Henry

        I believe he and the elders have already preached on that, just recently in fact. I must confess I caught bits and pieces of it for various reasons. It is on the sermon archives. I’ll make a point to listen again.

  3. Bob

    I think going to church online, can up the chances for freethinking to creep in somewhere alone the line, which is good for all. 🙂

    Because the push of a computer button is fast, democratic, and idiosycratic, and evenutally, one will run across something that either disgusts them, puzzles them, or opens up their mind somehow. At least one can hope.

    1. Henry

      Bob: “I think going to church online, can up the chances for freethinking to creep in somewhere alone the line” (emphasis added)

      Bob, just about the time I lose faith in your ability to be eloquent, you hit another grand slam.

  4. I am glad that I worship at a Biblically based and Bible centered fellowship.
    I have not interest in current trendy junk that a lot of churches have gone to under the guise of “attracting young people”. If you trash the real reason for worship…..the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word…you are left with nothing at all.
    The Message of the Gospel is still the prime reason for worship and praise.
    Jesus came to live on earth and do the Father’s will even though he was God himself.
    The second chapter of the epistle of the Phillipians tells it all in very neat language and brief summary of all 4 gospels….””He humbled Himself….”
    That is the TRUE message for anyone who believes in Christ and His message to Mankind.

    1. entech

      I thought that the message was to bring all people to the fold so that they could all be saved. Paul himself “tells it all in very neat language”
      1 Corinthians 9:19-23 ” … I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And I do this for the Gospels sake … .”

      1. Stan

        “by all means save some” Paul, and for that matter Christ never expected ALL to be saved. Just that we do our best to save as many as possible.

        I have a friend who was going to one of those churches for people who don’t do church. He asked me to listen to some sermons to be sure they were Biblical. After all the guitars and drums and rock and roll the minister started talking about per-marital sex. His message was “If you aren’t married you aren’t getting any…..TOO BAD!” I told my friend he is doing fine.

        1. Wanna B Sure

          Stan; where was the scripture? Was the “sermon” from the readings of the lectionary or topical at the whim of the preacher? Just asking.

        2. Bob

          To Stan 11:44
          Who the hell do you people think you are? God?
          Jeez, what a bunch of arrogant poppy cock.
          If anyone tells you they know what’s best for you, like approving you not having sex before being married, or what color cool aid is best for you, run the other way, as fast as you can.
          Just were a friggen condom, man.
          What a bunch of malarcky.

          1. Henry

            Bob, after your earlier grand slam in eloquence, you seem to be slipping. Are you OK this evening? How can I help?

  5. Wanna B Sure

    Actually, you are both right. Philippians 2 refers to the message (Christ)……..1 Cor 9 refers to Paul, (the messenger). Two entirely different contexts.

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