Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Cyborgs can have religious experiences

Dreaming Cyborg Dreams: Virtual Identity and Religious Experience | Media/Culture | ReligionDispatches

Rachel Wagner, Assistant Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Ithaca College, has written an interesting article on how "The fantasy realms of online gaming become even more surreal when religion enters the scene; imagine Batman going on pilgrimage to Mecca, or a virtual crucifixion, or massive Bibles, raining from the sky":

If it is true that, as theorist Sherry Turkle has claimed, that in our increasingly mediated world "we are all dreaming cyborg dreams," it is certainly safe to say that at least some of these dreams are religious ones.

In this essay, I look at four types of immersive new media that address the issue of religious identity: Waco Resurrection, a religiously-inspired first-person shooter, Noah’s Ark, a religious online reality show; Roma Victor, a massive multiplayer online role-playing game, and religious experiences in the online world of Second Life.

In each of these examples, the level of immersion in online identity plays a very powerful role in shaping the authenticity of religious experience, as channeled through those digital representations of self that virtual natives call their avatars.

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