If you have yet to see it, The Verge has a phenomenal (and gorgeous!) article on virtual reality that is really worth your time. With Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus VR earlier this year and Sony’s attempt to bring virtual gaming to PlayStation, dubbed “Project Morpheus”, we might begin to see virtual reality making headway into the mainstream—and I have a feeling it might be a bit more sophisticated than the Virtual Boy I had growing up. In any case, Matthew Schnipper has some comments that are on point in the introduction. He writes,

The promise of virtual reality has always been enormous. Put on these goggles, go nowhere, and be transported anywhere. It’s the same escapism peddled by drugs, alcohol, sex, and art — throw off the shackles of the mundane through a metaphysical transportation to an altered state. Born of technology, virtual reality at its core is an organic experience. Yes, it’s man meets machine, but what happens is strictly within the mind….

Imagine 10 years ago trying to envision the way we use cellphones today. It’s impossible. That’s the promise VR has today. VR at its best shouldn’t replace real life, just modify it, giving us access to so much just out of reach physically, economically. If you can dream it, VR can make it. It’s a medium for progress, not the progress itself. In celebration of the rise of VR still to come, The Verge investigated its past, present, and future to offer a glimpse of what we feel is enormous possibility.

Wow… Escapism and progress: very dear ideals of modern man in the West. One must wonder what exactly is behind the situation that is prompting such “escapism”, though Schnipper seems to think it is “the shackles of the mundane” from which we are trying to flee. Assuming his point, the boringness of everyday human existence is thus what needs to be overcome, and interestingly enough, drugs, alcohol, sex, art, and now virtual reality, are simply ways to overcome our finitude and the humdrum of life. Might it be that these “metaphysical transportations” are just ways of trying to become super-human? In other words, limitlessness is what we are after.

And here it is worth closing with an insightful comment by that famous existentialist theologian, Rudolf Bultmann, from his essay entitled “The Crisis of Faith”:

[W]e are not to think of sin as immorality, but as the human claim to seek to exist in one’s own right, to be one’s own master, and to take life into one’s own hands, superbia, wishing to be like God…. At the same time, the Christian message says even more plainly what sin is, and how far I have become guilty through my superbia. That striving to implement one’s own claims, that running up against the limit, is therefore in reality the guilt which gives one his character, because in this way one has become guilty in relation to his fellow-creature. The neighbor, the ‘You’ with whom he is associated, is given to him as the real limit of his ‘I’. That desire to be oneself, that superbia, is lovelessness.

Bultmann perceptively senses that Christianity has a far more radical take on the human condition than is normally understood. Sin is not simply to be understood moralistically as law-breaking but instead is to be seen as a never-ending attempt at self-mastery. Yet, at the same time, it is from this posture that seeks “to take life into one’s own hands” that the law-breaking itself is shown with stark clarity. That divine Law which calls me out of myself in self-giving love toward God and the other human (“the neighbor”) can never be fulfilled when I am trying to establish myself, for it is this very act of establishing myself—this self-centered law that I have placed myself under—that is sin, both against God and my neighbor. So could it be that this contemporary attempt at limitless metaphysical transportation, as Bultmann has shown us, is, in fact, lovelessness, a lovelessness that is a refusal to be both established by Another and given to my fellow human?