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.