I came across an interesting phrase recently that illustrates well our culture’s current perception of reality and place. Much of our culture exists in a “geography of nowhere.” Reflected in the uniformity of aspects of society (e.g. suburbs), this reality is now evident in the uniformity of our global connection. Enhanced by the leaps of technology, we transcend our physical spaces and inhabit communities that are a blend of our experiences, interests, education, religions, relationships, all together forming an experience of reality that is located anywhere but here. Like Truman Burbank’s life on Seahaven Island in the film Truman Show, the lines between reality and fabricated reality become blurred. In some ways, through our pervasive use of social media, we all get to star in our own reality show. We actually choose to be Truman in this “geography of nowhere.”
Faith in a God of history, faith in a God revealed in Jesus some 2000 years ago, offers an important perspective on reality in relation to our cultural situation. We can be tempted to categorize the reality of God alongside all the other aspects of our created reality. Following Jesus gets boiled down to some pious tweets, a check in a Facebook profile box, or some impassioned comments on our favorite secular news site. How easily we forget that God reveals himself in a particular place and time in history. In creation, God speaks literal place into being. With the incarnation of Jesus, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1:14). Where we adapt to an ethereal concept of God and faith in Jesus - just another fabricated reality among many we create - the very God we manipulate models a completely different perspective on engaging our world: real presence. In the world. In history. God’s is a geography of presence.
I’m not ready to stop tweeting, blogging, instagramming, or facebooking. But I do sense a tension when I consider following the God of history in our geography of nowhere. I’m left with this question: what does day-to-day reality look like, with all the pressure to fabricate myself and my experience, in light of God’s geography of presence?