I have heard it said that universities will one day become obsolete. The internet is continually being uploaded with information, classes and yes, even degree type courses. Vast libraries are being digitized and ancient texts, that in the past, could only be viewed by few, are now available to the masses. Prefer modern research and technology over old knowledge? No problem, it’s being released onto the web daily. The world wide web is truly an information highway. If you can think of it (and even if you can’t), it’s on the web.
So it is no surprise that spirituality would have a foot hold on the web as well. Google “online church services” and see the list pop up. Even the most remote-living person can receive spiritual comfort, just as long as they can get an internet signal. Shut-ins can now find faith with the click of a button. Spirit is alive and well on the internet.
But because a lot of folks have turned away from traditional religion, the internet is also a place to find alternative belief and faith systems and it is here that I have found my church, which is actually not a church at all because I do not subscribe to any one practice but rather many.
I guess you could say that I am a member of the church of the curious. If the internet, and it’s vast information does one thing, it’s that it offers choice. All that’s needed to become a member of my church is to have the desire to seek and the ability to ask questions.
I had a conversation the other day with a woman who recently found her way back to the Catholic church. In her zeal for her new found re-connection to God, she shared her belief that God was the one true savour and that all other “Gods” were false. Now having my own opinions but being in a situation where I needed to be respectful, I replied, “All spiritual paths lead to God. But aren’t we blessed that we live in a society were we can express our views respectfully and honor the fact that other peoples views might be different.”
This is one of the reasons I choose not to use the term “God” when I write but rather spirit or universe because I believe in a vaster connection to All That Is.
Now before you send me comments in defence of your beliefs, let me ask you this. If you believe that we are all energetically connected – and let me say for the record, that this has been scientifically proven on the quantum level, then why would it matter the path one takes to reach their own understanding of who or what God is? Wouldn’t it only matter that their personal path for them has been found?
This is why I love the internet church. At the surface, the internet does not have an opinion, it is just a vehicle for information. It can not force you onto one site or other without you performing some sort of search. In that you have free will and the power to choose. What you take away from the information your search turns up is again, within your power to decide as to whether it is relevant for you or not.
I think this is one of the reasons the spirituality movement is so popular right now in north America. We now have the choice to design our own belief systems. We can choose from many faiths and take the rituals and theologies we find relevant and create a devotion that is unique and deeply meaningful for ourselves.
But here is where the internet church, or any other online church for that matter, has it’s limits. It is one thing to know about something – to intellectualize it in your head, even believe it in your heart, and quite another to live it in real life. Because to have a faith is to live it and be it. To really understand and embrace any belief system, even one that you have create for yourself, you have to experience it in your being – walk the walk and not just talk the talk.
In this one thing, orthodox religions have the edge. They have eons worth of followers who have proven their devotion with continuous acts of faith in the real world. Their actions show to others that they believe in what they believe.
The word faith is a noun. It is a thing, although an intangible thing but I think it should also be a verb because it is when faith is in motion out in the real world, that wondrous miracles can occur.
The internet has gifted me, through my curiosity, the ability to create a belief system for myself that resonates in my soul as my truth. But it is in my actions in real life and the experiences I’ve had, that my faith has been created as a thing.
If I was to boil down to one lesson that the internet church has taught me it would be this: It is in your actions and not in your words that you show your faith, what ever that faith is for you. It does not matter who or what taught you, or how you came by your belief system, all that matters is that you honour it with virtuous action. Because if you believe, like I do, that we are all connected, then your path, just like mine, will eventually lead us all to the same place.