Monday, August 1, 2011

The Real Matrix

The Real Matrix

I have mentioned Second Life before- it's basically an alternate reality sort of program where things of all kinds are made using a utility with shapes, or prims, that can be formed, colored and even coded. These objects may be made translucent, transparent, even phantom, so that other objects can pass through them. They can even be attached to one's avatar- the character, symbol, or representation folks use to portray themselves to the rest of the Second Life world. Interesting.

Pictured above is a supermarket found within the world of Second Life. Look at it carefully. You will notice boxes, pictures, shapes, and a setting that we are familiar with, for the most part. The photos which cover some of the vegetables and doughnuts are skewed, though. There is something not quite right about them. They look flattened. Mis-shapen. The angles are not quite right. Yet, I say to you, the images seen here are in some ways, more real than the supermarket you go to visit, the walls that surround you and the chair that you are sitting in right now.

No, I have not gone nutters. Just bear with me for a minute. You see, we spend every moment of our waking lives surrounded by the sensations delivered to us by our senses- what we see, hear, smell, taste and feel. Our lives are consumed by pleasure, or the pursuit of it. We think continuously of the temporary, what we understand. By nature, we think in terms of our experience. But I say to you, what we see is ashes, or soon will be. What we hear; fleeting.... As the band Kansas once popularized, we and all we see are "Dust in the Wind." What is more real than our limited, blind experience is what is unseen. The cries of the heart. The wounds of the spirit. The tears in our innermost being which cannot be touched by any earthly hand.

Why do I say that the picture above filled with electronic pixels is in some ways more real that reality? Proverbs 23:7 says loosely, As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he. When people first come to Second Life, many times they just go wild in this new found environment. Their every desire is suddenly available in anonymity and security. The sinful appetites of the heart come rushing out, seemingly without consequence. This is a tragic misconception, with equally dire results.

There was a man I met in Second Life a little over a month ago I'll call "Jack." I met him at a church sim I go to ( a sim is a large square piece of land where environments are built.) Jack was new to Second Life and was visiting. I asked him if he was a Christian, thinking it might be an opportunity to witness, and he responded by saying he was a pastor in real life. Of course, there's no way to confirm that, but he seemed honest and reasonable- nothing seemed suspicious at any rate. I friended him and told him we would talk later.

About a week went by, and I noticed Jack was logged in and online. When I went to check his profile so I could send him an instant message, I discovered he had joined an adult club. I was concerned and when I asked him about it (evidently he did not know I could see his clubs by friending me,) he claimed that he had joined this club by accident. He had also changed his name to "Lonesome Lover."

Had this occurred by accident? Not likely. Now this is not to advocate asceticism, which is a rigorous self denial of the flesh; that all things having to do with our bodies are worthless. Far from it. Our bodies are beautiful gifts to enjoy, take care of and be thankful for.

My point is this. Our hearts are shaped by our thoughts, and though we live in our bodies for a short while, our eternal destination will be determined by what we do with what Jesus did for us. There is only One who can change the heart of man.
Lord, please examine our thoughts, and cleanse them. Draw us towards You. Let us not be mired in self condemnation or self pity. Renew our minds, and make us as Your children, so that Your will may be done. We love you. Amen.

armchair coach
amateur historian

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