Theology After Google: After Thoughts on the Claremont 2010 Gathering

For three days this week, I was with a group of new friend and old friends trying to imagine together how theology in the googley age might emerge.

At the end of the day, one if the most powerful aspects of the event was the experience of the settling in on the face to face banter with the real questions on the last session of the last day. Over the course of about 45 minutes to an hour, the whole group of thinkers, practitioners, and participants shared from the Soul where they saw theology after google intersecting with major themes in contemporary life.

I’m not sure if others had the same experience, but about half way through the e-commissioning, something happened. Maybe it was the coffee I drank wearing off, or the adrenaline from opening the session up, or maybe it was something of the divine and holy Spirit moving in our midst; whatever it was, something settled in and I can’t help but think quite a few of us experienced It.

And do you know when it settled in? When we did not know the answers to the questions that we did not know were coming. You could feel it. A question would be asked, “theology after google says what to a young single pregnant latino girl who enters your congregation?” Pause…The funny thing is, in every time where there was a pause, it almost seemed like those were the moments when real theology was being done. Not in the answers that eventually came, but in the process of coming to that attempt at a simple or noble articulation. And while the articulation itself wasn’t some final answer to the what is the/a theology after google, it did reflect precisely the kind of work that unforeseen questions do in the shaping of diverse theological reflection.

And maybe that is something that many of us have taken away from Theology After Google (Claremont 2010); namely, that theology is what happens in the spaces before there is anything certain to articulate. That ultimately, theologies after google need the relational exchange of ideas, emotions, and experiences that come with life, context, and conflict to rekindle the collective imaginations of all the faithful such that we hold loosely to what we know until we must engage in the communal testing of those harmonies.

And maybe, because we know that theology after google will be so relational, and inventive, and incarnational, and embodied, we know that theology after google cannot and will not be done simply in the isolated places of academy, denomination, or mind; rather, TAG will be done in the intersection of those places with the embodied and avatar alike. For although theology has long been seen as simply that which is done in the flesh, the above notion that theology is what happens in the pause, also makes space for the new exploration of a what a digital theology might be like. Or to put it another, “how is the good news story that theology after google tells to the impoverished urban community different (or the same) from the that which might be equally good news to a new avatar friend who walks into a bar, or church, or shopping center in Second life?” And what does this mean for how we might be the Church to all in our relational spheres of influence?

If it could ever be said that an event is a comma and not a period, theology after google is that comma.

Joshua Case

In the air towards Salt Lake City Airport (2010)

6 thoughts on “Theology After Google: After Thoughts on the Claremont 2010 Gathering

  1. I found it interesting that even though for much of the conference there ws a great deal of technology involved. People were on their laptops on thier phones or otherwise technologically engaged. What I thought what was interesting was that as we moved futher into the e-commisioning the further away from technology we steped. So many of the answers were given with heart and soul not with technology. I’m interesting to see where this discussion moves as we go back to our areas. I’m back in the rural midwest and even just discussing some of the question posed with my community there is an interesting blending. There is a blending of new and old. As we move in to the ‘inventive’ age I find ourselves continually looking back. At what point to we need to stop looking back and move forward? “Biology begins with Death” (Phillip Clayton). At what point are we going to confront this issue? I don’t know if we’re ever going to find the answer to technology and faith but I do know that the question cannot be forgotten any more.

  2. Joshua, I wasn’t at the event, due to work commitments,but, did manage to listen to great deal of it on the live stream. I really appreciated you taking it up a notch at the end.One almost had the sense you caught Tony a little of guard. a little outside the script.I’m an old white guy, who is barely hanging on to even the fringe of church, so much of it obsolete, and so much more in the survival mode. But what ever theology looks like after google…it will be highly relational. It will be a highly personal theology, that we process quickly, awkwardly in moment to moment interactions in real life time. I think you really showed us that at the end…every ones theology was slightly different. Anyways, always enjoy your site, and the podcasts. Too bad you and Nick, couldn’t have went head to head with the boys of Homebrewed Christianity in a game of corn hole. Peace!

Comments are closed.