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September 2011


Dear Partners in Ministry,


I’m loving the wonderful way summer is coming to an end. The weather has been glorious…seasonably warm with cool nights!  It’s a terrible tease as we are inextricably drawn into preparing to climb back into the saddle for another season of fall / winter activities.  Why can’t we stay here a while longer?


Wouldn’t that be a trick though?  Being able to hang on to a favorite time of year!  It used to be that if I really wanted to savor this kind of weather for an indefinite period of time, I would be advised to move to California. Now all I have to do is go on my computer and create my own VE.  That’s Virtual Environment.  It’s another name for entering the world of Virtual Reality (or VR) – a world where you can control everything.  VR or VE is when computer technology is used to create a simulated, three dimensional world that a user can manipulate and explore while feeling as if he or she were in that world.  In other words, we can re-create ourselves using our computers.  For example, we can give ourselves the appearance that we’ve always wanted.  Do you wish you were a buxom blonde with the intelligence of a genius?  No problem.  Have you fantasized about being a great quarterback like Big Ben?  Well, in the land of VR, you can be.  You can spend your time wherever you want, whenever you want.  You can even create the ideal family and the perfect workplace.  You can give yourself that beautiful home you always wanted and create the perfect vacation home for the perfect vacation.  In the world of VR, you can even eradicate all pain, all hunger, all poverty, all hatred, all prejudice and all violence.  You can create your own Garden of Eden. 


Is it any wonder that people are becoming addicted to the world of VR?  Yep, VR is the latest entry into the world of addictions: spending hours and hours (eventually to the exclusion of all else) in a world you create yourself and over which you have absolute control.


Playing god is addictive.  In the church we call it sin: that natural inclination in humans to want to be in control of our lives instead of acknowledging God as our creator - the one in ultimate control.

As much fun as VR might be…as entertaining as that technology can be when it comes to movies and computer games…as helpful as the technology may be as it is applied to our cars and cell phones…VR provides us with yet another means of deluding ourselves that we are able to have more control over our lives than we actually can.


It’s like thinking we can actually drive safely while texting!


The problem with addictions is that ultimately they take control over you while giving you the illusion of being in control.


St. Paul had it right when he reflected that one of the rewards of knowing and trusting in the sovereignty of God and the saving grace of Jesus Christ is finding satisfaction with the life God gave him.  He writes in his joy-filled letter to the Philippians 3:11 ff:  “for I have learned to be content with whatever I have.  I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty.  In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry; of having plenty and of being in need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” 


Yes, it would be nice to hang on to these last weeks of summer, but living in a world that I can control would mean missing out on the adventure of relying on our Lord who provides me with real help with this very real world.  So, autumn, here I come, praying that God will bless us and the work that we will undertake in his name.


Grace and peace,


Pastor Beth



Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries (PLUM), 405 Kennedy Avenue, Duquesne, PA 15110        412-466-7773