Futurist Liturgy, Google Glasses and the TMI Culture
A few weeks ago, I was listening to an extremely respected, high tech market guru discussing the emerging digital wear market. More specifically, he was reporting on Google Eye Glasses focus group studies and the amazing positive feedback.
It is difficult for an old timer like me to imagine that people will get excited about wearing Internet glasses throughout the day, but they are. In focus groups, users have found the glasses really cool. When a new technology is really cool, it is a win. The guru said that when he tested them, it was an exciting experience of being totally immersed in a live, dynamic digital cylinder.
Immediately, I recalled the Marshal McLuhan lesson of the Media is the Massage. Not even McLuhan imagined that we would go beyond the Media is the Massage, but we have. With the coming of wear digital technology, especially the Google eye glasses, we are moving into the age of the total media Immersion. Total Media Immersion (TMI) means that we are in a constant digital cylinder of visual, text, and sound where all the senses are constantly touched. It is the ecstasy of the digital information cylinder.
Moving into a culture of TMI has serious and pressing implications for our Episcopal style of heavily print-dominated, historical symbols and ancient vestments liturgy. It just does not fit well into the immersion culture. Expecting young people under 25 to participate in a print-dominated liturgy is like asking them to watch a black and white Roy Rogers western movie with Chinese sub-titles.
As we move into the TMI culture, we need a new way of Episcopal worship. Perhaps we might begin by experimenting seriously with page 400 in the Book of Common Prayer, An Order for Celebrating the Holy Eucharist. I suggest we should change the instructions for this rite to It is recommended as the principal emerging style of worship for Sunday and weekly celebration of the Holy Eucharist in the TMI culture.
In this style of worship, we would worship in a suitable room with a simple altar prepared for the celebrating the Eucharist. It is a plain room with comfortable chairs but on the white wall behind the altar, the celebration begins with an energetic spiritual projection of video art and music. Keyboard, wind, string and percussion musicians, praise singers and a soloist could be a part of the service.
The entire liturgy is built around concrete, spiritual, thematic preaching that is reinforced in the prayers. It is also supported by contemporary, easy to sing music like Sweet, Sweet Spirit, Blessed Assurance and inspiring solos similar to Love Lifted Me. Spiritually energetic video art is not just on the back wall, but it appears throughout the service, filling even the side walls with images and metaphors of glory, celebration, loving compassion, etc. There are no vestments. People distribute the bread and wine to their fellow parishioners. There is no need for special appointed and approved ministers. Some of the prayers are from the celebrant, but most are from the congregation and are casual, spontaneous and heartfelt.
These are only suggestions, but I believe that we must begin to think in this manner. I am curious if any of our readers have similar feelings about the new direction for liturgy in the age of the Google glasses.