More thoughts on Immersion

17Feb08

Below is a diagram of the four realms of experience, taken from an unlikely source*. Though I am not fond of the term “escapist” this is the quadrant that I perceive our Stations engaging. We (all who go through the stations) should be active participants – not mere observers. There should be some kind of engagement, physically, emotionally and spiritually. As opposed to Entertainment or Education, we are not attempting to get the worshipper to necessarily “ingest” some bit of information. Rather than reducing the “meaning” of a station or the stations to a few bite-sized morsels the meanings of the experience will be intentionally like taking a drink from a fire hydrant.

4-realms-of-experience.jpg

There will be layers upon layers of meanings and messages, not all of them (or any of them) tied up neatly for “taking home”. Certainly, we hope that persons come away from this experienced changed and that that will likely mean that they “got something out of it”, but this will be a by-product of the experience. In fact, in many ways this experience – the Stations – stand alone as a sacramental event. They have the potential of being an outward sign of an inward and spiritual grace (Thank you, John Wesley). The Stations exist not so that we can get something out of them, but so that we can put ourselves into them.

Hopefully, we won’t escape from something (our lives, our families, our communities) as much as we will escape into the sufferings of Christ. We will actively engage our own suffering and (even more?) actively engage in the world’s suffering.

We will be embraced into Christ’s reality – a kingdom realm – and in this way we will be transformed. Perhaps we will even be converted. Converted – changed – both to Christ and for the world. We will find life through the death. Resurrection is not merely a future reality; it is a present expectation of the kingdom breaking in. As much of Christ calls us away and unto himself, he likewise calls us into the world – to a solidarity with those on the margins. But these things are not up to us (we who would be so bold as to attempt these Stations), it is the Spirit who moves and who does the changing. We can only be faithful to his work within us – not passively, but with active anticipation of the change that he is doing in us. As we do this we will be privileged to witness his work within one another as well. This is what the Stations are – an opportunity to observe the Spirit’s working.

This may also be why the Stations make such a good setting for this kind of Holy Spirit work. The muck and the mire of our lives are laid bare as we identify with Jesus’ suffering. It is in the compost of our souls, the pain, the hurt, and the wounds that we see the Spirit active. It is in our brokenness that we can become whole.

Big Long Quote on Immersion

“The experience of being transported to an elaborately simulated place is pleasurable in itself, regardless of the fantasy content. We refer to this experience as immersion. Immersion is a metaphorical term derived from the physical experience of being submerged in water. We seek the same feeling from a psychologically immersive experience that we do from a plunge in the ocean or swimming pool: the sensation of being surrounded by a completely other reality, as different as water is from air, that takes over all of our attention, our whole perceptual apparatus. We enjoy the movement out of our familiar world, the feeling of alertness that comes from being in this new place, and the delight that comes from learning to move within it. Immersion can entail a mere flooding of the mind with sensation, the over flow of sensory stimulation experienced in the televisor parlor in Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Many people listen to music in this way, as a pleasurable drowning of the verbal parts of the brain. But in a participatory medium, immersion implies learning to swim, to do the thing that the new environment makes possible.” pp.98-99

From – Murray, Janet B. 1998. Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace. The MIT Press.

* Pine, Joseph B. and James H. Gilmore. 1999. The Experience Economy. Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA. (link)

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