Friday, October 19, 2007

Religion & Ritual Online (AOIR 8.0)

It's Friday and I am in blogging on the 2nd panel dealing with religion and the internet. This one is focused on Religion & Ritual Online. I came in late so missed bits but here are some of the highlights I did catch.

Nadja Micek from Heidelberg University presented on Exploring ritual action in Second Life and gave an interesting overview of the variety of online religious ritual being enacted in this virtual space. She provided a survey of the different Buddhist temples, Mosques and Christians churches which exist in second life. While some are online only entities many are also modeled after real world temples/mosques that exist in places such as Thailand & Morocco. She focus on two examples of the 10 Christian churches which hold weekly services online. The Koinonia church in Second Life is sponsored by United Church of Christ and uses voice chat so participants can to hear the service, participate in prayer, share blessings and listen to music. The ALM Cyber Church which is virtual pastor leads with an audio stream for participation in the service, and a worship animation package at the beginning of service for users to participate raising hands, dancing and singing. Her exploration of how the transfer of rituals online lead to change in process religious worship can be explore further at

Pauline Cheong presented on Playing God? Examining religious boundaries and authority online. The research is a study of epistemic authority of religious leaders and how religious leaders influence spiritual shaping of the internet. She and her colleague used observational analysis online and interviews with Christian & Buddhist religious leaders in the Toronto area. She had several interesting findings including: Most leader expressed concern about changing religious informational fields, there seems to be a changing hierarchical religious order in religious ‘place’ and response for ‘local congregation’, and an interesting Reconfiguration the geography of sacred places and instruction dynamic in wired religious campuses also seems to be going. For more details check out her forthcoming in Information, Communication & Society entitled: (re) structuring communication and social capital building among religious organization.

Joon Lee presented on Cultivating the self in cyberspace, and his study of One Buddhism priest's who blog. While most said that they began blogging to attract converts to One Buddhism but but that it also served as an important tool for these priests to to construct their own religious identity online. Blogs became a way to monitor one’s level of self-enlightenment.The internet becomes a plane of consistency to work our self cultivation both inside and outside cyberspace to construct different technologies of the self.

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