Posts Tagged ‘spiritual’

Augmented Reality or Distorted Reality

November 14, 2016

I put on the pair of magic glasses. Immediately I was transported to a magic land of another reality. I saw things floating in front of me. I could walk around objects and view them from every angle, but I couldn’t touch them.

There was a white dot. I focused on the dot and brought my hand up to eye level forming a fist with fingers on top. Then I opened my fist like a jasmine bud you drop into hot water to make fragrant tea. And a computer screen appeared before my eyes.  I raised a finger, pointed to a button, brought my finger down and then back up as if clicking. And a machine started.

No, I had neither smoked something or injected something. (Although people suspect that in my days at university… well that’s another topic for another day!)

Perhaps you’ve seen the TV ads for the Samsung phone with Virtual Reality (VR) goggles? I was wearing a real product–the Microsoft Hololense. This is Augmented Reality (AR). I could see people. I could see the actual machine in the second scenario. I controlled the fan speed of the real machine without touching anything. People watching would only see me waving my hand.

Last week I was in Atlanta at a trade fair sponsored by an industrial technology company–Rockwell Automation. At a stand called modestly enough The Future of the Connected Enterprise, they showed these working examples of AR in a manufacturing setting.

This being a spiritual discipline blog and not a technology blog (you can find mine here), I contemplated reality this morning. We often say that others live in a “distorted reality field,” that is, they couldn’t see reality if it raised up and kicked them. They think they are perfect, their kids are perfect, that nothing is going wrong. Or they live firmly in the belief that other people are going directly to hell (I guess that would make heaven a lonely place).

And I thought about how Jesus time and time again held a sort of mirror up to people–Pharisees, the rich young man, his disciples–and tried to get them to see beyond their VR or AR point of view to the reality behind.

Just now reading through Mark, I thought about this story where Jesus commented to his disciples to beware the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of the Herodians. They started to speculate that he said that because they had no bread to eat. Jesus said something to the effect of “put on your spiritual reality glasses and see the spiritual meaning of my comment.” He did that all the time, didn’t he?

What sort of glasses are we wearing today? VR, AR, or SR?

On Being Spiritual Without Being Religious

February 8, 2016

“I’m spiritual; not religious.”

This has been a mantra of many for at least 50 years. Maybe much longer, I’m not sure. Seems to me I heard it when I was in college.

This may be a reaction to “organized religion”, that is, belonging to a church or attending a church gathering usually meaning Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, or other organizations.

It may also be an acknowledgement of lack of total involvement.

It’s easy to be “spiritual” because no one can know what it is. You can’t be held against a standard, because there is no real definition.

You could be in the Desert Fathers tradition of deep contemplation. Or you could be in the New Age movement of crystals, candles, auras. Or maybe it’s just a warm feeling that visits at times.

My latest morning study book is Dallas Willard’s The Spirit of the Disciplines. Willard was a brilliant and wise man. I’ve heard him speak. Such a calm and humble voice. And understandable, a fact that is remarkable given his profession–Professor of Philosophy.

He discusses why it is important to involve our bodies in our worship and spiritual life. It’s not enough to just have a “head” idea of God. A belief that is only that deep. Or just a warm feeling.

To Willard, who uses many examples but you can read the letter of James for a good starter, faith must be lived out in the real world with a real body. Believing and doing are actually two sides of the same coin.

He said, “To withhold our bodies from religion is to exclude religion from our lives.”

Andy Stanley has said that anyone can say they are a Christian, because there exists no good definition. But, to be a Disciple of Jesus, well, that’s hard. It is defined. We can see it in your life.

I’m not religious? It means I’m not committed. So, what good is the spiritual, then?