We have thought, written, and talked quite a bit on these pages about postmodernism, but since it is the biggest challenge to evangelization and formation that we face we must continue to clarify our thoughts on the matter. Here is a bit from the British theologian Graham Ward's introduction to The Postmodern God: A Theological Reader:
Surfing the net is the ultimate postmodern experience ... Cyberspace is a cultural metaphor for postmodernism."
The postmodern culture is "a culture of seduction and flagrant, self-consuming sexuality; a culture of increasing sophisticated drugs and drug use; a culture of virtual, videotaped realities."
I am most intrigued by his assertion that postmodernity is "a culture of virtual, videotaped realities" in which "surfing the net" is the ultimate experience. I believe this is certainly true and we can see it in a variety of ways, most especially in a culture for which moral considerations are absent, because they seem not to pertain to a virtual world. There are no moral considerations to take into account when something is not really real. That's not so dangerous if virtual reality is mainly peripheral and truly only "virtual", but what happens when the virtual world becomes the real world for so many people? When a whole culture becomes one of "virtual, videotaped realities?" Are not Facebook, MySpace, and the multitude of other social networking sites an example of how a whole culture (seemingly parallel to the "real" world's culture, but with highly permeable boundaries) can arise from virtual reality?
How then is the Gospel presented and received in such a situation? What space can be created in these virtual realities, cultures, and habitats for Christian witness, particularly as mediated through Christian community? Is it even possible for Christian communities to make an authentic witness to the Gospel in virtual space?
I am eager not only to hear reflections on this subject, but also for you to draw our attention to Christian witness in virtual space.