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.
In the air towards Salt Lake City Airport (2010)