Today’s visit to Trinity College, Dublin to view the Book of Kells got me thinking again about yesterday’s them: about how we imagine that authentic religion–at least in the past when it was “real”–was all about mystery and effervescence and received wonder.  That such experiences might be constructed for us, does that delegitimate them?  Certainly, in contemporary discourse, when we look at the construction of digital imaginings of the religion, this criticism comes to mind.

Nabil Echchaibi and I have suggested that there is a certain “as if-ness” in digital religion–the necessity that those who mediate and remediate religion in these spaces must inhabit a position to do so and must do so with a self consciousness that they are constructing mediations for themselves and for others.

The Book of Kells is one of the oldest illuminated Christian manuscripts. It was created by monks at the abbey on Iona, off the Scottish Coast, in the Ninthe Century.  It is magnificent.  Its folio 34e, a full-page illumination of the Greek Characters Chi and Ro as the crucified Christ is a masterpiece.

The interpretation at Trinity College, where the manuscript is exhibited, speculates that the monks’ primary motivation for their creative labors was spiritual discipline.  But, was there not also some sense somehow that this was being done for someone’s (someone else’s) gaze?

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