Allegory of the Net

Imagine that you live in a nice apartment. There’s a comfy bed, wall sized high def TV, and a smoking fast internet connection. Your basic needs are met. All of the chips and carbonated beverages you could want. Thousands of friends on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, etc. Pretty much the average life here in America. Just one difference. You never leave your apartment. You never have actual contact with another human being.

Everything you know about the world outside your own four walls is what you have seen on television and the internet. A day like any other dawns. This day is different. You are forced out into the great outside world. Fear rises in you. Reality beyond the digital simulation beckons.

While you are out there you experience many new things. Seeing the sun rise bringing light and colors so beautiful you cannot help but to cry. Feel the solid thwack of a bat as a baseball is launched from it over the fence. Feel embarrassment when you see in another’s face that you have said exactly the wrong thing. Courage as you approach a girl who makes you believe that fairy tale princesses may not be such a fairy tale after all. Contentment just spending time with a friend without need to say or do anything. Receding panic and fear as you determine you will not back down from a physical altercation. And so much more.

Now imagine that you are returned to your apartment. With excitement you hit Facebook and Twitter to let everyone know about what you have seen and done. Exactly how crazy will they believe you are? How much of a liar?

This is a modern retelling of Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” from The Republic. It’s used to explain the concept of Platonic Forms. The idea is that every object is an imperfect representations of a true perfect “form” of that object. This holds true for chairs, dogs, justice, and love. Philosophers continue to have a field day discussing Plato’s form and whether it is true. For me the interesting point to the story is when we experience something that is more real than reality, how do we explain it? As Catholics, how can we explain to those who have never experienced them the Sacraments.

How can we explain the feeling of coming up from the waters of Baptism and knowing that something is different. Something is new?

How can we explain being Confirmed and the contentment of being home in a Church that is Christ’s creation and like a mother to us?

How can we explain the being in the presence of Christ during Eucharistic adoration and the encounter with Him when receiving the Eucharist?

How can we explain the shame and trepidation in going to Confession and the peace that begins at the words, “God, the Father of Mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son, has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins.”?

How can we explain the emotional safe harbor that is Marriage?

How can we explain knowing a surgery is going to be ok after the Anointing of the Sick?

I’m not sure that non believers will understand or believe, but we have to find a way.

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