Increasingly, my students and I are investigating forms of "para-homiletics," by which we mean "homiletic practices" within popular culture. Although we spend a good bit of time looking into music, television, and film, increasingly we've been interested in video games. The potentialities of virtual worlds for homiletics has recently been addressed in an essay by Elana Nord in Homiletic, the online journal of the Academy of Homiletics. According to Nord:
Virtual realities open up the interpretation of actual realities to a variety of new possibilities, and cultivate a keener perception of the imperfect parts of our lives. In this way they show that reality is comprised of much more than only that which appears to be real. Homiletics can benefit from this in several different regards: 1) by generating open-ended worldviews, 2) by opening homiletics more to the future and 3) by activating the body for experimenting with freedom every day.Virtuality immerses people in visual and sometimes tactile alternative worlds in which they can explore (within a range decided by the program creator and the limits of technology) roles for enacting forms of god-shaped freedom within religiously construed virtual environments. For more conversation about the video games that so construe reality, the reader may want to check out this fascinating website, Gamechurch.com.
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