Artificial Reality

When you can’t experience the real thing, someone will provide a way to experience it secondhand. The picture I’ve included is from a hotel in San Diego. It’s a place we visited for a few days to get the experience of Hawaii without actually going to Hawaii (and paying the money it would take to go to Hawaii). It was enjoyable, but it was not Hawaii. There are so many places today that offer simulated experiences of places and cultures. Theme parks come to mind. Take a jungle cruise. Soar around the world. Get attacked by raptors or mummies or super villains. We can escape reality and experience a different reality. The danger in this lies in enjoying the escape from reality more than reality itself. The more you become dissatisfied with your own reality, the more you look for ways to escape from it. It can become an addictive downward spiral. I think we have many in our culture today who spend more time trying to escape reality than in actually trying to live in reality. My take on it is this: after you’ve enjoyed your escape from reality, come back motivated and energized to transform reality. The more we make reality a good place to dwell, the less we will feel the desire to escape from it.

More Perspective

A common experience of human beings is standing at the beach, or overlooking the Grand Canyon, and being completely overwhelmed by the vastness laid out before them. This experience has been labelled transcendent emotion by those who have studied it and attempted to classify it. Psychologists have come up with a variety of explanations as to why nature evokes intense emotional response in humans. I can’t pretend to understand these explanations. I do understand the experience though. I have stood in many place and been overcome by emotion. I have felt a sense of God’s presence, of spiritual reality, at these times. Much is written in spiritual literature about the wilderness experience. The Bible presents two particularly powerful wilderness experiences: the Hebrews in the desert after escaping Egypt and the forty days Jesus spent in the desert. Around the third century, Anthony the Great retired to the desert and began a whole movement of asceticism. Most monks and devoted religious people live in somewhat isolated locales. Most personal retreats are held in places where nature is predominant. The lesson, I suppose, is that we all ought to experience a little transcendent emotion now and then. I feel a trip to the beach coming on…