My coffee cup is almost empty. I’ve spent some time reading posts and comments on some of my favorite blogs. My mind has been stirred theologically, pastorally, and in my own humanity. I am considering some changes to the format of my blog, but not all that seriously.
So what does any of this have to do with anything? Community, namely the composition and nature of community.
Postmodern thinking has helped us consider how we identify our community. Technology has given us the ability to redefine community–or at least redefine the geographic scope of community–in ways that created both perplexing problems and unprecedented opportunities.
For instance, in the time I spent reading a couple of my professor’s blogs this morning, I might have been able to spend with some one else face to face. Geographically, I am a good day’s drive away from the school. In a physical sense I am no longer part of that community. I am physically part of another community, namely the church that I pastor.
Does the “virtual community” augment, or distract from “real community”? (I place these terms in quotes as I am not sure that the distinctions are even close to being valid.)
As I see it, the “virtual community” and the “real community” co-exist symbiotically, albeit it an asymmetrical priority. As I see it, “real” face to face community, the breaking of bread, tangible expressions of communion, must always take priority. At the same time, this “real community” speaks through me to the “virtual community” and the “virtual community” in a sense becomes joined to the “real” for the simple reason that I am shaped and informed by both.
Perhaps, in some sense, the “virtual community” permits the “real community” to taste a little of the restored communion of the promised new creation. Instead of being cut off and in isolation, cast out into a diaspora of sorts, we can extend the circle of communion far beyond geographical limitations.
That said, perhaps the danger of the “virtual community” is that we become satisfied with the extended communion instead of longing for the restoration of communion in the new creation.
Lord, may we never be content with a communion of our own making.