Perhaps you have heard about Virtual Reality, the latest technology that allows viewers to be immersed in a 3D, computer-generated game or movie. You put on the odd goggles, say the Oculus Rift, and suddenly you are thrown into the middle of a virtual reality Paris, where you can look all around you, and see everything (more or less) that you would see if you were actually in Paris. Or into the middle of a flaming castle with demon warriors charging at you from all directions. Or into the midst of a feast thrown for a bevy of elves by friendly, pink, curiously-dexterous unicorns.
Or, as of this coming December, into the ancient Holy Land, so that you look around at the birth of Jesus, at the wedding feast at Cana, or the crucifixion, or the Resurrection. So promises VRWerx, a company specializing in virtual reality games and movies. The film, clumsily entitled “Jesus VR—The Story of Christ” promises to transport begoggled viewers back 2000 years to the center of history, in the Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection of God.
Read the rest of the post at ncregister.com.
I've always been perplexed by the WWJD religious accoutrements, and I've finally worked up sufficient gumption to state my misgivings aloud.
"What Would Jesus Do" seems like a very odd question, given the implied assumption about the proper answer by those actually sporting WWJD bracelets, t-shirts, medals, etc. With all good intentions, I believe they want me to say, "He would help that poor beggar by the bus stop," or "He would have been deeply kind to that old lonely man at Wendy's, instead of walking by nervously," or something like that. The point seems to be that you and I should do exactly what Jesus did, and in the everyday situations we now face as Christians.
But my response to the question WWJD is this: "He'd raise that poor boy from the dead," or "He'd cure that young woman's facial deformity," or "He'd forgive that person's seemingly unforgivable sins--provided that he was truly repentant," or "He'd walk on water," or "He'd read the thoughts of so-and-so, and rebuke them--or me, if I'm so-and-so," or "He'd threaten sinners with the fires of hell, if they--or we--didn't shape up and love others as He loves us," or "He'd cast out demons by a mere word," or "He'd reveal things about God, about Himself, that could not be known by mere human beings," or "He'd hand Himself over to death by sinners because He's the Son of God, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity."
In short, most of the things that Jesus did--and I assume would do, if He were here, walking around, eating with us, going to weddings, and so on--were the kind of things that only God could do. Or, to put it from the perspective of the folks at the time, Jesus did the kind of things that made the Jews and pagan Romans of the time wonder if that man, that son of Joseph the local carpenter, that guy they knew since he was a kid, was actually God.
I realize the good intentions of the WWJD folks. But I really think that the proper question is WWJHUD, "What Would Jesus Have Us Do?" He does feed the poor, by a miracle--assuming that there were poor in the two great crowds he fed. But I don't remember him giving a cup of water to anyone who was thirsty, although he did turn water into wine. Did he clothe any naked? Help out widows and orphans with money, or visiting anyone in jail? Yet these are the very things, in Matthew 25 that we human followers are commanded to do. So it would seem what Jesus would do, and what He would have us do are significantly different.
I don't mean to be nitpicking, but I do believe that this is an important point. Jesus did things that we can't do because He is God. He is not merely an important moral exemplar that we can imitate. In fact, the notion that Jesus was only a moral exemplar, and not divine, is a kind of modern heresy that comes from the Enlightenment. Benedict Spinoza (1632-1677) was the first great proponent of Jesus the Merely Moral Man. Spinoza did not like Christianity, and the religious wars of the time. He did not like his own Judaism, and the persecution it brought his family. He did, however, like the new materialist science that eliminated God and the human soul from the universe--and hence, if widely accepted, would lead to the eventual cultural removal of Christianity and Judaism. In service of that goal, Spinoza designed a new way of reading Scripture, one that removed all the miracles, and turned Jesus into a Merely Moral Man, i.e., not divine. By this means, Spinoza thought he could give us a Jesus whom we could imitate--thereby making us generally nicer--but eliminate the miraculous elements of Christianity that gave it its historical, cultural force.
Jesus is a good guy. You can be one too. And let's leave all these divisive theological doctrines behind.
The problem, of course, is that we're actually leaving behind all the things that Jesus actually did that showed the world who He actually was: God Incarnate.
To read more about Spinoza, and how Jesus became the Merely Moral Man, read my book, Worshipping the State.
It’s final. Britain is exiting the European Union. I am inclined to think that leaving the EU will one of the best decisions Britain could make—even while admitting that I could be wrong. But such is the way with politics and the prudential decisions it involves: there are so many contingencies in human political life that accurate predictions of success are usually made only in hindsight.
That’s why it is clarifying to shift our attention from trying to make accurate predictions about Britain’s future, to a consideration of principles that are more enduring than opinion polls and media pundits. In this instance, we should be looking at the most Catholic principle of subsidiarity, one which favors Brexit.
For the rest of this post, go to my blog at National Catholic Register