Archives April 2018

Digital Baptism (a work in progress)

Notes on an essential sacrament, without which the church cannot fully be embodied in digital space. Please forgive incompleteness of this text and the lack of references but I am recording this here as a note for ruther study and reflection, as a result of attending a symposium on Sacraments in a Virtual World at S. John’s College in Durham.

Baptism is where the sacraments truly hit the road. The two primordial sacraments are already fully  established in digispace: Jesus Christ – the Word embedded across all creation is in both sacred and profane space. The church, the ekklesia exists wherever Christian community is to be found, but from these two spring the dominical sacraments and the sacraments of grace.

So, until we figure out how baptism works then we cannot envisage any of the sacraments in a digital culture. Unfortunately, all sacraments are mysteries of God, and the limitation of their grace, efficacy and means of work are limited by our imagination, language and technology rather than a limitation of the agency of God.

Some theologians (Paul Fiddes for example) argues that baptism is impossible because it is an instrument of the located church, is a once and once only sacrament although he accepts the possibility of renewal of baptismal vows online. His argument accepting a new economy of sacramental for digital Eucharist has, I believe similar currency in the new economy of baptism but as Eucharist is predicated on baptism his rejection of digital baptism kills digital Eucharist at the outset.

We therefore need to carefully consider the nature of baptism and its action to see how it might find true representation in digital space.

The key problem with most of the seven-sacramental perspective is that it is rooted in the Incarnational reality: we have always concentrated upon a visceral and corporeal faith which spoke primarily of oil and water, bread and wine, body and blood. When we move into the less concrete, everything that we once held onto becomes shaky and it is this lack of physicality that  Fiddes finds problematic despite the fact that he was quite willing to forego them in the case of Eucharist.

But what is baptism? Is it a series of physical acts or an initiation which happens most commonly to use physical acts to symbolise the work of the Spirit upon an individual, regardless of whether they actively participate in it (adult, believer’s baptism) or whether they are a (largely) passive participant as an infant. Are the physical acts the most important element here or are they a mere reflection in a concrete world of a more virtual action by God?

Indeed, are all the works of grace evidenced in the sacraments of the Church ‘virtual’ in the sense that they have no concrete form, and rely upon what Aquinas called the accidentals of physicality to embody them? In doing this, have I argued that oil and water, white robes and candles are merely external and therefore dispensable signs of a deeper function of baptism which is the working of the Holy Spirit and the welcome of a supportive Christian Community. That both of these things can be successfully represented digitally, my tentative conclusion is, at present, that baptism is indeed a sacrament that can be mediated digitally, in a digital setting for a digital community for the essential hallmarks of baptism are present and the externalised accidentals can be enacted (the liturgy of drama) within a purely (and not synthesised) digital form.

More thoughts will be posted shortly…


Paul Fiddes – Sacraments in a Virtual World

(This paper is no longer available elsewhere on the web, although its critiques are; so as Prof Fiddes gave us a copy of it, I have scanned it here for the sake of completeness)

From The Virtual Body of Christ? Sacrament and Liturgy in Digital Spaces – a symposium organised by the CODEC research centre for Digital Theology (@CODECUK

Sacraments in a Virtual World?

A contribution by Paul S. Fiddes, University of Oxford, June 2009

Summary:

An avatar can receive the bread and wine of the Eucharist within the logic of the virtual world and it will still be a means of grace, since God is present in a virtual world in a way that is suitable for its inhabitants. We may expect that the grace received by the avatar will be shared in some way by the person behind the avatar, because the person in our everyday world has a complex relationship with his or her persona.

Argument:

The key theological question is whether the triune God is present, and whether Christ is incarnate (in some form, including the church) within the virtual world.*If the answer is yes, then one can conceive of the mediation of grace through the materials of that world, i.e. through digital representations.

Grace is, of course, not a substance but the gracious presence of God, coming to transform personality and society. In sacrament, God takes the occasion of bodies in creation to be present in an intense or ‘focused’ way to renew life.

One ought not to assume that cyberspace is a disembodied world. The net is composed of a form of energy, just as is the familiar ‘physical’ world in which we operate everyday. Moreover, the persons behind the avatars are in physical connection with the virtual world – through many of the senses (sight, hearing, touch — i.e. keyboard, mouse). Anyway, mental activity always has a physical base in the brain. Studies have shown that people feel a bodily connection with those with whom they are communicating over the net.

Theologically we should develop a notion of ‘virtual sacraments’ rather than an ‘extension’ of the consecration of elements over a distance, and their direct reception by the person employing the avatar. Within the logic of the virtual world, the cathedral in Second Life is a place where avatars worship God and avatars minister to avatars. The ‘person’ can thus only receive a virtual sacrament indirectly through relation to the avatar. There is a mysterious and complex interaction between the person and the persona projected (avatar), just as there is between the person and his/her personae (self-presentations to others) in everyday life. Avatars do not, however, worship merely an avatarGod because there is only one God, for whom person and persona are identical and in whom ‘all things live and move and have their being’, including the beings of virtual worlds.

There can be an ‘extension’ of the sacraments from the church sacraments of bread and wine into the sacramentality of the whole world, since the world is held in the life of the triune God; for an expression of this, see Teilhard de Chardin’s Mass on the World. Many physical objects in the world can become a focus of mediated grace in continuity with the church sacraments, while remaining dependent upon the sacraments of dominical institution for their meaning. My suggestion about virtual sacraments thus falls somewhere into the spectrum between church sacraments of bread and wine and other sacramental media in the world. I do not want to suggest that virtual sacraments would be simply identical with the church sacraments, though given the context of a ‘virtual church’ I suggest they would be closer on the spectrum than — say — the sacraments of sand and light in RS Thomas’ poem ‘In Great Waters’ :

The sand crumbles
like bread; the wine is
the light quietly lying
in its own chalice. There is
A sacrament there…

It might be said that the stuff of a virtual sacrament includes both sand (silicon) and light (photons)! Is there any less sand and light in a virtual world than in Thomas’ experience of the sea off the coast of Wales?

* This is not an outlandish question. The same question may be asked about the world which is inhabited by a schizophrenic, which appears completely real to the schizophrenic subject but which will be alien to others who share that person’s life in daily experience.


Netflix Genre Codes

All Netflix Category Codes

Here’s the complete list of all the codes, so you can search to your heart’s content!

http://www.netflix.com/browse/genre/###

Categories broken out for children based upon age:

Movies for ages 0 to 2: 6796
Movies for ages 2 to 4: 6218
Movies for ages 5 to 7: 5455
Movies for ages 8 to 10: 561
Movies for ages 11 to 12: 6962

A

Action & Adventure: 1365
Action Comedies: 43040
Action Sci-Fi & Fantasy: 1568
Action Thrillers: 43048
Adult Animation: 11881
Adventures: 7442
African Movies: 3761
Alien Sci-Fi: 3327
Animal Tales: 5507
Anime: 7424
Anime Action: 2653
Anime Comedies: 9302
Anime Dramas: 452
Anime Fantasy: 11146
Anime Features: 3063
Anime Horror: 10695
Anime Sci-Fi: 2729
Anime Series: 6721
Art House Movies: 29764
Asian Action Movies: 77232
Australian Movies: 5230

B

B-Horror Movies: 8195
Baseball Movies: 12339
Basketball Movies: 12762
Belgian Movies: 262
Biographical Documentaries: 3652
Biographical Dramas: 3179
Boxing Movies: 12443
British Movies: 10757
British TV Shows: 52117

C

Campy Movies: 1252
Children & Family Movies: 783
Chinese Movies: 3960
Classic Action & Adventure: 46576
Classic Comedies: 31694
Classic Dramas: 29809
Classic Foreign Movies: 32473
Classic Movies: 31574
Classic Musicals: 32392
Classic Romantic Movies: 31273
Classic Sci-Fi & Fantasy: 47147
Classic Thrillers: 46588
Classic TV Shows: 46553
Classic War Movies: 48744
Classic Westerns: 47465
Comedies: 6548
Comic Book and Superhero Movies: 10118
Country & Western/Folk: 1105
Courtroom Dramas: 2748
Creature Features: 6895
Crime Action & Adventure: 9584
Crime Documentaries: 9875
Crime Dramas: 6889
Crime Thrillers: 10499
Crime TV Shows: 26146
Cult Comedies: 9434
Cult Horror Movies: 10944
Cult Movies: 7627
Cult Sci-Fi & Fantasy: 4734
Cult TV Shows: 74652

D

Dark Comedies: 869
Deep Sea Horror Movies: 45028
Disney: 67673
Disney Musicals: 59433
Documentaries: 6839
Dramas: 5763
Dramas based on Books: 4961
Dramas based on real life: 3653
Dutch Movies: 10606

E

Eastern European Movies: 5254
Education for Kids: 10659
Epics: 52858
Experimental Movies: 11079

F

Faith & Spirituality: 26835
Faith & Spirituality Movies: 52804
Family Features: 51056
Fantasy Movies: 9744
Film Noir: 7687
Food & Travel TV: 72436
Football Movies: 12803
Foreign Action & Adventure: 11828
Foreign Comedies: 4426
Foreign Documentaries: 5161
Foreign Dramas: 2150
Foreign Gay & Lesbian Movies: 8243
Foreign Horror Movies: 8654
Foreign Movies: 7462
Foreign Sci-Fi & Fantasy: 6485
Foreign Thrillers: 10306
French Movies: 58807

G

Gangster Movies: 31851
Gay & Lesbian Dramas: 500
German Movies: 58886
Greek Movies: 61115

H

Historical Documentaries: 5349
Horror Comedy: 89585
Horror Movies: 8711

I

Independent Action & Adventure: 11804
Independent Comedies: 4195
Independent Dramas: 384
Independent Movies: 7077
Independent Thrillers: 3269
Indian Movies: 10463
Irish Movies: 58750
Italian Movies: 8221

J

Japanese Movies: 10398
Jazz & Easy Listening: 10271
Kids Faith & Spirituality: 751423

K

Kids Music: 52843
Kids’ TV: 27346
Korean Movies: 5685
Korean TV Shows: 67879

L

Late Night Comedies: 1402
Latin American Movies: 1613
Latin Music: 10741

M

Martial Arts Movies: 8985
Martial Arts, Boxing & Wrestling: 6695
Middle Eastern Movies: 5875
Military Action & Adventure: 2125
Military Documentaries: 4006
Military Dramas: 11
Military TV Shows: 25804
Miniseries: 4814
Mockumentaries: 26
Monster Movies: 947
Movies based on children’s books: 10056
Movies for ages 0 to 2: 6796
Movies for ages 2 to 4: 6218
Movies for ages 5 to 7: 5455
Movies for ages 8 to 10: 561
Movies for ages 11 to 12: 6962
Music & Concert Documentaries: 90361
Music: 1701
Musicals: 13335
Mysteries: 9994

N

New Zealand Movies: 63782

P

Period Pieces: 12123
Political Comedies: 2700
Political Documentaries: 7018
Political Dramas: 6616
Political Thrillers: 10504
Psychological Thrillers: 5505

Q

Quirky Romance: 36103

R

Reality TV: 9833
Religious Documentaries: 10005
Rock & Pop Concerts: 3278
Romantic Comedies: 5475
Romantic Dramas: 1255
Romantic Favorites: 502675
Romantic Foreign Movies: 7153
Romantic Independent Movies: 9916
Romantic Movies: 8883
Russian: 11567

S

Satanic Stories: 6998
Satires: 4922
Scandinavian Movies: 9292
Sci-Fi & Fantasy: 1492
Sci-Fi Adventure: 6926
Sci-Fi Dramas: 3916
Sci-Fi Horror Movies: 1694
Sci-Fi Thrillers: 11014
Science & Nature Documentaries: 2595
Science & Nature TV: 52780
Screwball Comedies: 9702
Showbiz Dramas: 5012
Showbiz Musicals: 13573
Silent Movies: 53310
Slapstick Comedies: 10256
Slasher and Serial Killer Movies: 8646
Soccer Movies: 12549
Social & Cultural Documentaries: 3675
Social Issue Dramas: 3947
Southeast Asian Movies: 9196
Spanish Movies: 58741
Spiritual Documentaries: 2760
Sports & Fitness: 9327
Sports Comedies: 5286
Sports Documentaries: 180
Sports Dramas: 7243
Sports Movies: 4370
Spy Action & Adventure: 10702
Spy Thrillers: 9147
Stage Musicals: 55774
Stand-up Comedy: 11559
Steamy Romantic Movies: 35800
Steamy Thrillers: 972
Supernatural Horror Movies: 42023
Supernatural Thrillers: 11140

T

Tearjerkers: 6384
Teen Comedies: 3519
Teen Dramas: 9299
Teen Screams: 52147
Teen TV Shows: 60951
Thrillers: 8933
Travel & Adventure Documentaries: 1159
TV Action & Adventure: 10673
TV Cartoons: 11177
TV Comedies: 10375
TV Documentaries: 10105
TV Dramas: 11714
TV Horror: 83059
TV Mysteries: 4366
TV Sci-Fi & Fantasy: 1372
TV Shows: 83

U-Z

Urban & Dance Concerts: 9472

Vampire Horror Movies: 75804

Werewolf Horror Movies: 75930
Westerns: 7700
World Music Concerts: 2856

Zombie Horror Movies: 75405


Low Sunday

The Sunday after Easter is known as ‘Low Sunday’ throughout the Church, and that doesn’t just refer to the mood of the Clergy.

Traditionally, churches would listen to David Bowie’s eleventh album on this day, though since the arrival of Christian worship songs, that tradition has fallen into disuse.


Dying

We should not be afraid of dying, but modern society sees this as a failure. This is a subject I have been banging on about for 25+ years.

The article on the right was written in 1990 by a Staff Nurse in a Coronary Care Unit (with hair, note!) who felt that we applied the indigities of resuscitation far too indiscriminately. As one who jumped on chests on a daily basis, I saw first hand where it worked and its importance. I was also very aware of its abuses because we were too reticent to tell people that their loved ones were dying and that they should not be afraid.

This video, a short think-piece by a specialist in care for the dying (thanatology) , I feel, should be more widely seen as it explains rather beautifully the gentle process of dying which is natural. I would want also to bring the spiritual dimension into this, and speak of the need for words of comfort, reassurance, of making peace and receiving absolution, and where appropriate the sacraments.

The Oil of Healing might heal us to a good death – a Euthanasia – which is the perfect end. That word has come to mean something very different, very clinical; but I ask you: would we not all want a good death? A euthanasia?

Specialists can ensure that death is peaceful, pain-free and stress-free. But you have to let them do their work. “Do all you can” is usually more for our benefit as the ones who remain behind, unable to grasp the reality that death will ultimately visit us all.

It isn’t true that “Death is nothing at all”, for the bereavement it leaves behind can be devastating, but we should be assured that death is a part of life, an inescapable part of reality and a frame around which our lives have meaning and context. What we do on this earth matters: the people we love, the laughter we share, the lives we impact. But it will not last for ever, and there is a time for that to end, and time for subsequent generations to take up the baton. Learning to live with and beyond the loss of someone we love does not mean you have failed them, but that we adjust to that loss .

“Then”, as S. Paul reminds us, “we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thess 4:17-18)

[video width=”1280″ height=”720″ mp4=”http://www.frsimon.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/BBC-Dr.-Kathryn-Mannix-explains-why-we-should-all-talk…mp4″[/video