Monday, November 20, 2006

Special Issue on Rituals on the Internet

Online - Heidelberg Journal of Religions on the Internet has just launched it's second edition featuring a special issue on "Rituals on the Internet". This journal began through the impetus of the second international conference on religion and the internet called: Online-Religions and Rituals-Online, held in Germany in 2004. If you look closely at the site you will also see an article I wrote entitled "Spiritualising the Internet. Uncovering Discourses and Narratives of Religious Internet Usage" which was published in their first edition. They have also anounced a "Call for Papers" for an upcoming issues on "Virtual Worlds". For more information contact, Kerstin Radde-Antweiler at

Monday, November 13, 2006

Going Into Godmode in Left Behind

A colleague just forwared me an interesting article from WIRED magazine. Going Into Godmode in Left Behind is a review of an interesting new Christian video game based on the Left Behind series focused on the book of Revelations. You too can join the tribulation force to battle the one-world government, just remember to not let your "spirit ranking" run low or you might be seduced or destoyed by the evil mineons of the anti-christ. Also check out Left Behind Games

A Long Hiatus...

Well it has been over four months since my last post. This was due to the fact my last post came right before a speedy retreat had to be made from Haifa due to Hezbollah firing rockets at the city. I spent the last 2 weeks of my time in Israel at a friend's parent's house in Jerusalem and left at the end of July minus most of my clothes and research material which were still in Haifa. Finally in October I was able to get most of my things back. Recovering from this eventful summer combined with a busy teaching schedule means I feel haven't had much time to even spit some weeks, let alone blog. But the semester is wrapping up and there is light at the end of the tunnel, so I hope to now get back to the business at hand…Looking for religion in the realms of new media.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The reason I haven't been blogging

My appologies for those who have been waiting for a report from the MRC conference that I promised. I have been a bit distracted the past few days. I am currently a refugee in Jerusalem after Haifa has been getting a lots of rocket fire courtsey of Hezzbolah in Lebanon. Some call it a war, some call it a conflict... I like to call it a very interesting ethnographic expereince (alway look on the bright side of life!). If you are interested in my reflections on this situation please check out my other blog "Long Way from Auld Reekie".

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Bombings in Haifa...watching how news is constructed

Bombing in Haifa

Today has been an interesting time to reflect on how news in constructed.

At 8:40pm I awoke from a short nap and decided to make myself some dinner. Over my pita and hummus I decided to turn on the TV and when I flipped past CNN I was stunned to see an image of Stella Maris a neighborhood in Haifa about 20 mins down the hill from the University where I am staying. My first reaction was to go out to my balcony that overlooks the northern part of the city to see what was happening. But around me were no signs of this event. I saw no smoke rising from the cityscape; students were still milling around the campus courtyard and playing tennis on the university courts. If I had not turned on the TV I would not have known what was happening.

An hour later announcement came on the campus intercom for all students in the dorm are to go to their apartment safe rooms/bomb shelter. So slowly the students migrated inside but 2 hours later when the notice was made that all was okay the place came back to life. Overall it was just another peaceful night on campus in Haifa.

However it was interesting to not that in those 2 hours the peaceful atmosphere changed in my own space not because of what I was experiencing around me, but the tone set by the news. Haifa made the top headline on CNN with constant showing of images of the small area of town that was affected. Their was a series of interview with foreign correspondence, to local observers, and government official the described Haifa as “a place of panic” and “a war zone” to one where locals were experiencing with “a sense of hesitancy and fear”. As I listened to these CNN reports I grew more anxious, till I finally just turned off the TV. The media’s constant barrage of images and featuring Haifa as the crisis of the minute helped heightened the feeling of panic. I turned it off and called a few friends who lived in other parts of Haifa and learned they were all calm and more realistic about the situation.

Online I scanned the Israeli papers such as Haaretz online which:

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Media, Religion & Culture Conference start today

Greeting from Stigtuna Sweden. The Fifth International Conference on Media, Religion, and Culture starts today. I am looking forward to learnign new things and meeting new colleagues from aroudn the world. I have already had several great chats with people from Finland, Sweden, New Zealand, Canada and Britian and am looking forward to more. I will keep you posted with conference highlights.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Kosher Cell Phones

One of my current project here in Israel is to research more information on the Kosher cell phne developed in 2005. Kosher cell phones are designed forthe Ultra Orthodox community have been stripped of video, web & sms access that might expose users to harmful content. They also bear a kosher symbol, indicatign the devices are approved for use byt the rabbican coincil of the community. If you are interested in finding out more check out these recent articles:
Kosher phone line to be launched
Partner to provide kosher cell phones
Israel's 'kosher' cell phone testing appetite for growth

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Conferences on Fundamentalism and Media

There are 2 interesting upcoming conferences focused around the theme of Fundamentalism and Media.

Fundamentalism and the Media is sponsored by the The Center for Media, Religion, and Culture at the University of Colorado at Boulder, USA will be held 10-12 October 2006. It will center on research and discussion of how best to address religious misunderstanding and conflict in the media.

And the conference Global Communication of Fundamentalist Knowledge will be held 14-16 December 2006 at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. One of the conference themes focuses on Media and fundamentalist knowledge and how people use different forms of media to serve various religious, naitional and ethinic interest.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Jewish Tele-Rabbis

One of my favourite evening activities here in Israel is watching the many different Middle Eastern TV stations. Most nights I spend at least some time watching religious programming. While my Hebrew is not very good so I can't follow much of the details of what is being said it is still interesting how similar the set-up, filming and the interaction is when compared to American Tele-Evangelist programs. The one I watch the most is called Hidaroot, which I think stands for something like negotiation. One of 3 Rabbis will share a message and interact with and audience of religious and secular Jews on different topics. They have a very interesting web site worth checking out.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Exploring Religious Community Online

FYI... I have been doing extensive research on religion online since 1996. My PhD at the University of Edinburgh combined the study of Computer-Mediated Communication with Practical Theology. I was very interested to see how involvment in an online religious community shapes people definitions of community and interaction in their offline church. If you want to find out more about what I learned, get a hold of a copy of Exploring Religious Community Online.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Muslims craft their own video games

Today I came across this article from the Christian Science monitor which tells about how Muslim designers are trying to create alternative naratives about Islam through video games. Check out: Muslims craft their own video games

Coming soon...International Conference on Media, Religion & Culture

It is only one week until...

The Fifth International Conference on Media, Religion, and Culture: Mediating religion in the context of multicultural tension will be held in about a week in Stigtuna, Sweden. This is an important meeting for researchers interested in a variety of aspects of the convergence of media culture with religion.

I will be presenting a paper on a research project I have been working on since 2001 on religious identity construction through prayer meetings within Christian youth culture in Scotland, as well as leading a panel on the future directions of research on religion online. Hope to see some of you there!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Following the herd

I found this article this morning on Haaretz online. Following the herd makes a few interesting comments and links to UO response to media and a percieved decline in religious authority within the community. Especially interesting to note is the slow take up of the Kosher phone, a technology I have been following for the last 2 years.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews surf the forbidden web

This article "Ultra-Orthodox Jews surf the forbidden web" is about one month old, but I found it especially interesting as I spent several hours in Mea Sheraim, the main Ultra Orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem just a few days ago. UO response to the internet is quite an interesting and contentious issue.

If you want to know more about this subject I recommend reading:
Barzilai-Nahon, K. & Barzilai , G. (2005). Cultured Technology: Internet & Religious Fundamentalism. In: The Information Society 21/1.

A journey into the realms of religious engagement with new media

Shalom, Marhaba & Hello! I have started this blog as a way to help organize my thoughts for a book project I am working on. When Religion Meets New Media is a research project that aims to investigate and discuss how religious communities percieve of and interact with new media technologies, especially the internet and cell phones. I am spending a lot of time online for this project looking at how religion is re-presented online and the interesting dialogue which emerge around religious engagement with new media. This is a space for me to share some of these interesting articles, thoughts and resources I am finding helpful in this journey. Your questions, comments and helpful remarks are most welcome!