Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Parsis use new technology to keep religion alive

A friend sent me a link to this article how India's Parsis are turning to new media in order to keep their ancient Zoroastrian religion alive. This compliments some of the reading I have been doing the past 2 weeks about how ethnic enclaves employ media to solidify and maintain their religious identities in a diffused network society.

If you are interested in this topic I recommend also checking out:

P.H. Cheong & J.P.H. Poon (2009) Weaving Webs of Faith: Examining Internet Use and Religious Communication Among Chinese Protestant Transmigrants, Journal of International & Intercultural Communication, 2(3), pp. 189-207.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Twitteleh: Twitter for your Jewish Mother

If Twitter is wearing on you why not try Twitteleh: Twitter for your Jewish Mother....enjoy this parody video!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Religion in Video Games

A research colleague sent me a request sources for a literature review on religion in Video Games. While I have started to do a little research in this area myself I am at a loss to recommend specific resources. There just doesn't seem to be much published on the topic yet?!

So far I have come up with an older article on the Theology of PacMan and an article on Religious education and the challenge of computer games. Also there is book forthcoming entitled Halos & Avatars: Playing (Video) Games with God to be published by Westminster John Knox, 2010) which to my knowledge will be the first collection of articles on religion and video games (though I am open to correction if someone else knows of another on the subject). The book looks at variety of issues related to theological and psychological issues of gaming for religious culture. I have also contributed a chapter offering a narrative analysis of different genre's of islamogaming.

So if others out there know of articles, chapters or books on Religion and Video Games I would love to hear about it!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

There is NO virtual ecclesia (?)

Stephen Garner just gave me a heads up on a provocative article entitled: There is NO virtual ecclesia. In it Bob Hyatt, an emerging church pastor from Oregon argues that failed claims that televangelism would create an electronic church that could reach the masses applies to much of the hype surrounding online church experiment.

While he argues some interesting and valid points about the limits of mediated church experiences and that online communities can not fully replace embodied care and interaction he seems to assume that offline churches always provide the social accountability and garner the spiritual investment of its members. He claims the virtual ecclesia is lacking because it is missing: the sacrament, discipline and accountability, service and equipping. However from my 13 years of research I would say that while it is not a given, that these aspects can be and are being integrated into many religious communities online. It is what people bring to the table and their level of creativity and investment online or offline that makes a gathering true ecclesia or not. The article is definitely worth a read and would like to hear others thoughts.

Also check out Shane Hipps interview at the National Pastor's Convention in San Diego (Feb 2009) discussing his views of "virtual community" and opinions on Second Life Church.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Cowan's Reflections on Sacred Space and Sacred Visiion

Douglas Cowan at University of Waterloo and author of Cyberhendge:Modern Pagans of the Internet and co-editor of Religion Online has been interviewed by Theofantastique on his forthcoming book on myths in popular science fiction. While not primarily focused on new media he offers some interesting insights on cultural constructions of space and the sacred in a media-ted world. Check out the \interview here and his thoughts on transcendence.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Digital Faith

I spent the morning at Auckland University for a half day conference on Digital Faith. It was a good mix of discussion and interaction on practical and theoretical issues related to doing religion online (and an added plus were the fabulous scones during the tea break!) Another highlight was getting to meet the first presenter, Mark Brown of the NZ Bible Society, f2f after interacting with him for over 2 years online.

Mark spoke on the topic of Monitor Mediated Ministry: Being the Church in the Digital Space which explored his own experience in using Second Life and Facebook to do church. He argued that often offline church focuses on an invitational of trying to get people into the pews while in the online context there is a shift to an incarnational strategy that focuses on bringing faith into to where people are this case the internet.

Tim Bulkley spoke on Digital Audio and Reading the Bible Online and explored how digital and communication technology changes our engagement with text and information. He argued that digital culture changes our relationship with the Bible when it is presented in hypertext or especially new visual or oral mediums. He described his work with the PodBible project and his work developing Vernacular resources for church leaders so that new media technologies empower new methods of translation and engagement.

Yours truly spoke about the offline implications of online religious community as the rise of online community reflects changes in larger society's conception and practice of community. I also addressed how the internet challenges traditional institutions conceptions and practices of church as it offers alternative means of spiritual engagement and connection

Stephen Garner concluded the day talking about Who do you day I am? Digital authenticity, ethics and community. He spoke about the long tradition in Christianity of tension between spiritual and physical spaces and conceptions, and how the internet can highlight these supposed Gnostic tendency as it frees users from the constraints of the body. The result is a blurred space where question of what it means to be authentic online are debated. He raised some important ethical points summed up by a quoted from Ron Cole Turner: "Technology for all its good is constantly on the edge of sin, exploitation and greed, it is after human technology beset by our weakness".

So overall it was a great way to spend a morning in Auckland!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Reflections on Worship 2.0

It is amazing what one will find when one Google's oneself. Today I found a link to an article from Worship Leader Magazine entitled: Worship 2.0 Leaders that features a number of pastors, online entrepreneurs and academics talking about web based approaches to Christian worship. Amongst them is an interview from yours truly.

[Note: the transcript of my interview is a bit rough with some mistakes, but for the most-part communicate my intent.]