Faith and the Virtual World dealt with issues which have surfaced since the arrival of current technologies and virtual reality.
“We are excited to see students engage theological implications of living in the virtual world,” Rev. Greg K. Haseloff, associate dean for campus ministries and campus chaplain, said. “The Faith and the Virtual World” series wrestled with ‘promises’ made by technologies of virtual reality – from hardcore virtual reality to social media and even cell phones.”
“In the season of Lent, the topic of virtual culture is very timely because our look towards Easter is a focus on the true God becoming flesh, sacrificing His life, and rising again – not in a virtual world,” Haseloff continued. “And it’s a timely topic for this generation because the virtual world has been accessible through almost all the formative years of education.”
Highlights of the forum included Chapel presentations by Crouch on Monday and Wednesday, virtual and “real-life” gaming experiences, a guided discussion on the documentary Facebook Obsession, and a 24-hour “fast” from social media and texting.
“The most obvious way virtual reality affects us is that often these simulations are more initially engaging than the real world,” Crouch said. “They provide us more pleasure early on, so it’s very tempting to replace the embodied activity with the virtual activity because it doesn’t come with the burdens of doing it for real. I don’t think the issue is so much right or wrong, but rather, ‘Where are my priorities in my life? Where am I spending most of my time, and what’s shaping my life?'”
Crouch is the author of Culture Making: Recovering our Creative Calling which won Christianity Today’s 2009 Book Award for Christianity and Culture. In 2011, he became special assistant to the president at Christianity Today International, where he has served as executive producer of the documentary films Where Faith and Culture Meet and Round Trip and as editorial director of the Christian Vision Project. He lives with his family in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.