Why there is (a lot of) bad Christian Fiction

Ever since there have been such things as novels, the world has been flooded with bad fiction for which the religious impulse has been responsible. The sorry religious novel comes about when the writer supposes that because of his belief, he is somehow dispensed from the obligation to penetrate concrete reality. He will think that the eyes of the Church or of the Bible or of his particular theology have already done the seeing for him, and that his business is to rearrange this essential vision into satisfying patterns, getting himself as little dirty in the process as possible. His feeling about this may have been made more definite by one of those Manichean-type theologies which sees the natural world as unworthy of penetration. But the real novelist, the one with an instinct for what he is about, knows that he cannot approach the infinite directly, that he must penetrate the natural human world as it is.

- Flannery O’Connor - Mystery and Manners


Cool Whip Church: Conclusion

People and churches wouldn't be advocating internet church if they didn't think it could somehow be reconciled.  David Pullinger argues (in Information Technology and Cyberspace: Extra-connected Living?) that online communities can be as meaningful as non-online communities.  However, his only example is a forum for a rock band, whose members regularly meet - outside the internet - in order to attend concerts.  For that reason the example holds no water, now if the band held it's concerts over the internet that would be different.  


Cool Whip Church: Part 4

It'll be obvious that community itself can not be church.  1 Thessalonians 1:1, points this out for us, the church "in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."  Separating it from normal gatherings, from religious gathering and from Jewish gatherings.  This is Christian. This is not just a gathering of people, but a gathering of people with a purpose.

I am borrowing from two sources to get a minimalist idea of church, Calvin and Yoder.  Calvin’s Institutes sets out 2 marks of the church:


Cool Whip ekklesia: Part 3

What does the Bible say about church or ekklesia?  Below is a very brief (believe it or not) look at pre-New Testament and Paul's usage of ekklesia.  Think about how the church should look while reading it, particularly in Paul.


Cool Whip Church: Part 2

While researching for this paper I found myself on a particular Church’s internet campus just minutes before an ‘experience’ (as they call it) was about to start.  To let go of this opportunity would mean writing about something that I had never experienced myself which, considering I am writing a paper on the topic, would be at least poorly researched, and at most, dishonest.  Besides, perhaps participating in internet church would make me a believer.
I entered the website as the service was starting and typed in a username into the chat.  Over the next 45 minutes a number of things became evident: 


Cool Whip Church: Part 1

I’ve been reading up on ecclesiology and ‘cyber-church’ over the past couple weeks because of a paper I’m working on for college and an illustration from Albert Borgmann’s Power Failure really helped me put ‘cyber-church’ into perspective.

We have this technology that allows use to do incredible things and often without thinking about it.  For instance, we eat things sometimes assuming they are one kind of food when they are in fact quite a different kind.  Whipped cream is a prime example, we go to the grocery store and buy Cool Whip and treat it just like whipped cream, but it’s not at all.  It’s so much not whipped cream that Cool Whip is not allowed to even refer to it as whipped cream.  Yet, everything about it tells us that it is whipped cream: it’s taste, look and consistency.

This is the same for ‘cyber-church’: technology has allowed us to duplicate ‘church’ in our living rooms and office chairs, and at first glance it looks and feels like church, but when it comes right down to it, many of the things that make church church are simply missing and cannot be reproduced with technology, and any attempt is woefully inadequate.  What we’re left with is an imitation church that should really never have been called church to begin with.