Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Get Ready for Oculus Rift to Deliver a "Christian Experience"

While some companies try to cash in with virtual reality, others are thinking about saving your soul. Most churches haven't set up outposts in virtual worlds, but some future-focused Christian leaders are already imagining how tech like the Oculus Rift could change what it means to be part of a congregation.

Many communities have come together via the internet, but most Christian churches still rely on face-to-face meetings. That means many people get left out, including ones who live in remote areas, or are confined to their homes due to health issues. That's why Rev. Christopher Benek of the First Presbyterian Church of Ft. Lauderdale in Florida thinks that VR will make churches more accessible and popular.

Benek thinks that as technology like Oculus Rift becomes more developed, immersive, and available to the general public, we may soon be able to easily develop virtual worship and Christian education experiences. This would be a great asset to the church universal, as it will enable the infirm, homebound, and potentially even the poor to participate from afar regardless of their personal mobility or lack of affordable transportation ...

Congregants and pastors will be able to visit and pray with greater numbers of people more often. Small groups will be able to meet more frequently, even at great distances. The way that we currently do care and discipleship will radically change as will our expectations as to what it means to participate in those aspects of the church.

Strap on your goggles and pray.

Monday, March 23, 2015

When Superintelligent AI Arrives, Will Religions Try to Convert It?

We are nearing the age of humans creating autonomous, self-aware super intelligences. Those intelligences will be part of our culture, and we will inevitably try to control AI and teach it our ways, for better or worse. Experts disagree as to when such an intelligence will arrive into the world, but many are betting it will happen sometime in the next two decades. The idea of a thinking machine being able to rival our own intellect—in fact, one that could quickly become far smarter than us—is both a reason for serious concern and a reason to cheer about what scientific advances it might teach us. Those worries and benefits have not escaped religious.
Some faith-bound Americans want to make sure any superintelligence we create knows about God. As artificial intelligence advances, religious questions and concerns globally are bound to come up, and they're starting too: Some theologians and futurists are already considering whether AI can also know God.

"I don't see Christ's redemption limited to human beings," Reverend Dr. Christopher J. Benek said in a recent interview. Benek is an Associate Pastor of Providence Presbyterian Church in Florida and holds masters degrees in divinity and theology from Princeton University. "It's redemption to all of creation, even AI," he said. "If AI is autonomous, then we have should encourage it to participate in Christ's redemptive purposes in the world."

Sunday, March 22, 2015

San Francisco Catholic Church Installs Watering System to Spray on the Homeless


Update: The church announced it will uninstall the watering system. The diocese said its "intentions have been misunderstood and recognize that the method used was ill-conceived. It actually has had the opposite effect from what it was intended to do, and for this we are very sorry."
The church has a sign saying “No trespassing” but it posts no warnings that people who lie down in the doorway will be sprayed by water. KCBS notes that the sprinkler system in the ceiling above the doorway “ran for about 75 seconds, every 30 to 60 minutes while we were there, starting before sunset, simultaneously in all four doorways. KCBS witnessed it soak homeless people and their belongings.”
“We refer them, mostly to Catholic Charities, for example for housing,” a spokesman for the Archdiocese told KCBS. “To Saint Anthony’s soup kitchen for food, if they want food on that day. Saint Vincent de Paul if they need clothes. We do the best we can, and supporting the dignity of each person. But there is only so much you can do.”

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Church of the Brethren General Secretary to Conclude Service

At the Oct. 2014 meeting of the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board, discussions began around the General Secretary’s approaching contract end date of July 1, 2016. After a several-months-long process of discovery, discussion, and deliberation, general secretary Stanley J. Noffsinger and the Mission and Ministry Board members mutually decided at a meeting held March 13-16 at Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, that Noffsinger’s service will not extend beyond the end of his current contract.

Through the board’s discussions and deliberation it was clear that Noffsinger had been called “for such a time as this” 12 years ago. He has taken the Brethren message of God’s shalom and Christ’s peace around the world on the denomination’s behalf, while leading it through restructuring and shoring up financial resources.

“The board recognizes and expresses deep appreciation for Stan’s gifts, passion, and sacrificial service,” said chair Becky Ball-Miller. “We sense that the next season of the church’s life will be best served by new leadership.”

Noffsinger reflected that “I had a feeling my pontificate would be brief. … It is a vague feeling I had that the Lord chose me for a short mission.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Church of March Madness

Literally Balling” is an exploration into the aesthetic convergence of historical opulence and our modern day kings of court. These stained glass backboards, painstakingly rendered in the traditional “Tiffany-Style” began as a joke, but have tapped the zeitgeist – basketball as grounds for a new cultural and artistic epoch.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Pi In The Bible

Is Pi in the Bible? Well, yes, sort of.

In the description of Solomon's Palace, specifically in the verse I Kings 7:23, the Bible gives the dimensions of a round "molten sea", which is an immense round basin of cast metal. Since it gives enough dimensions, we can work backwards to calculate pi. The Bible says the following:

And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it about. (KJV)

The problem that arises is that if you do the math on those figures then pi equals 3, but we know this is not accurate. I believe that since the Bible is not a science book, or a math book, that this error is simply stems from the writer rounding to the nearest cubit.

Visit this site for more information on Pi In The Bible.

Friday, March 13, 2015

BINGO [v15.03]

It's Mission and Ministry Board meeting time again; here's your latest Buzzword Bingo.

If you're not happy with the sheet that you're initially presented, click Reload until you get a card that looks like a winner.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Assuming we don't blow ourselves up before then, colonizing other planets may be the last hope for the survival of humanity. Most of the preparation for this cosmic expansion has centered around solving the more immediate, physical problems of transporting our bodies into deep space, but what about our culture? Therein lies an issue that's often overlooked: Can the major monotheistic religions of the world reconcile what space means for our immortal souls?

Monday, March 02, 2015

Checkmate, Scientists

If we are descended from primordial soup, then why is there still soup?