WARNING – POSSIBLE PLOT SPOILERS (but I don’t think there’s anything major until Part 2)
I’ve just been to see the remake of Total Recall starring Colin Farrell. I came out of the cinema and had a bunch of profound ecclesiastical thoughts (pretty rare) so here they are in a series of posts which I’ve tried to break down into manageable chunks / themes.
I really enjoyed the film, which is quite a surprise as I’m not normally a big fan of remakes (although Italian Job wasn’t bad either). The 1990 original starring Arnold Schwarzenegger is a science fiction classic about a secret agent who has his memory erased after siding with the ‘enemy’ on Mars. Anywho, the remake (or reboot may be a more accurate description) is similarly set in the future but based on earth after most of the planet is made uninhabitable.
For me, the remake is great on a number of levels. The makers have used the original story arc, the best characters and memorable moments from the 1990 version. They have rebooted the aesthetic using imagery previously seen in films like Blade Runner, 5th Element and Inception. The tech is similar to Minority Report but turns some into implants rather than gloves and incorporates holograms and other more modern cinematic trickery. Characters and their costumes were reminiscent of Star Wars and iRobot. The set is incredible with many layers of buildings incorporating iconic buildings from the present (not to give too much away but it’s London which makes a nice change from the States). Really there is not a lot to dislike
It got me thinking about how our taste in films is similar to our taste in churches – we all like different things and enjoy different elements of what we experience. What would church look like for you if you could take all the best parts, your favourite aesthetics, characters, costumes etc and build your own version around the story (the best story, you know, the Bible one)?
Obviously this is not possible in most physical spaces or services but this gets pretty exciting if we think about it in the context of Augmented Reality. What if you turned up to church with your AR contact lenses and could choose what the building looked like, what the minister was wearing (careful there…), what the lighting was. Perhaps it would also be of interest to have different audio options so you could choose the voice for the sermon like a sat nav?
Take this a step further and I assume at some point we’ll be able to walk into any church in the world and join with other worshippers right from the comfort of our own homes through a holodeck or virtual reality room. I’ll be going to the Sagrada Familia fairly often but this has also got me thinking about the impact technology may have on illegal religious gatherings and the persecuted church – could you be imprisoned for attending a service in your holosuite that is happening somewhere else in the world?
But what, I hear you ask, is the intermediate step until the tech catches up? Well, I’m going to suggest that online church, whatever you may think about it, is probably where some of these ideas will flourish. The idea of being able to choose aesthetic elements to create your own sacred space really appeals to me – you could have a different space for each day of the week for example. What is possibly more exciting than the aesthetic options is that you could also choose music playlists, liturgy, prayers and interactive elements.
For example – you could choose to place yourself in an ancient crypt with a few candles but listen to rock music, look at impressionist art and read prayers from missionaries in Peru. Or, you could be in the great outdoors (better if you were to use a projector rather than a laptop screen) and do some interpretive dance to the latest Christian Rap artist before settling down to communion while listening to a Harry Baker poem.
It will not be long before the church needs to decide how it will engage with emerging technologies – right now it’s not a big deal as they are not fully integrated into our society but they will be and I’ll bet it’s sooner rather than later.
Are you ready for the future? Is your church?