I have been accepted to present the paper, “Virtual Church and Virtual Symphony: Considering the Importance of Bodily Presence,” at the Psychology and the Other 2021 Conference. It will be virtual this year, but I am still looking forward to it. If you would like the longer version or a copy of the paper, please contact me.I will be covering similar material to be my published article on liturgy, “The Weight of Bodily Presence in Art and Liturgy” (see the post here and download the pdf here).
Here is the short abstract:
This paper weighs in on the question of virtual church, particularly on whether or not liturgy can be done virtually. We will approach our subject from an unusual perspective by looking first to aesthetic experiences, such as watching a virtual symphony, and then relate them to liturgical experiences, such as attending virtual church. Art and liturgy are linked in that they both have the unique ability to facilitate presence, to make something known to us in a new way so that we walk away changed. I argue that what art teaches us about the importance of the body applies to the practice of liturgy and that, while unexpected benefits will surface in virtual settings, nothing replaces the powerful experiences that arise when the body is physically present.
I am happy to announce that my article, “The Weight of Bodily Presence in Art and Liturgy,” has been published! It was published in the journal Religions in a special issue entitled “Phenomenology and Liturgical Practice.” You can see the official post here (where you can read it online or download it). Or you can also download it from my profile on academia.
If you have wondered about the advantages and disadvantages of doing virtual church during the pandemic, this is for you! Here is my abstract:
This essay addresses the question of virtual church, particularly on whether or not liturgy can be done virtually. We will approach our subject from a somewhat unusual perspective by looking to types of aesthetic experiences which we have been doing “virtually” for a long time. By exploring how we experience art in virtual and physical contexts, we gain insight into the corresponding experiences in liturgical practices. Drawing on Mikel Dufrenne, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Gabriel Marcel, I first examine the importance of the body when we experience “presence” in aesthetic environments. Next, I consider the weight of the body in experiences of presence in liturgical practices, both in person and virtual, guided again by Gabriel Marcel as well as Bruce Ellis Benson, Emmanuel Falque, Christina Gschwandtner and Éric Palazzo. Through these reflections, I argue that what art teaches us about the significance of the physical closeness of the human applies to the practice of liturgy and that, while unexpected benefits will surface in virtual settings, nothing replaces the powerful experiences that arise when the body is physically present.