Virtual but not virtuous?

Pixellated pilgrimage

When Simon Reed wrote the foreword to my book Journey earlier this year, he included the following:

Richard is himself the embodiment of what this book is all about. He admits that he has
never been on a pilgrimage himself and has only experienced it through others. The fact
that he can write about it so insightfully and in a way that is so rooted in the stu; of
everyday life is proof of what this book sets out to do – to help us all to journey with God,and to travel well.
In the light of that, you may not be surprised to find a new addition to my collection of apps. Look carefully, and you will see that it sits right there alongside others for neighbourhood news, local police alerts and local events: Camino 360:
The app is slickly produced, supported by Spanish Tourist Board, and makes the most of VR technology. I came across it through medieval spirituality scholar Lisa Deam However, I have to confess that it is likely to only a temporary resident on my home-screen. There is something slightly uncomfortable about an app which encourages the user to ‘put on interactive boots, put on virtual reality glasses, and put yourself in the shoes of a Pilgrim.’ As you can see from the screenshot below, it allows you to ‘choose your camino’ at the touch of an icon:
There is no doubt that this will introduce many people to what the Camino has to offer, and may encourage some to embark on it for real.  What if it does the opposite, though? What if a virtual pilgrimage becomes every bit as virtuous as a real one? My contention in Journey was not that we should choose between the extraordinary life of the pilgrimage and the ordinary life of the everyday, but rather than the one should become the other:
 CLICK for more information

CLICK for more information

In the week that the story has broken about Uluru appearing on Google Street View, maybe I should just accept the inevitable and click my way through the Camino. What do you think?

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