Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It is finished...

After five long years of researching, reading and writing about Judaism, Islam and Christian engagment with new media the draft of "When Religion Meets New Media" is finished. It is now in the hands of the series editors of Routledge's media, religion and culture series for review and evaluation. I probably won't hear anything definitive for a few months so for the moment I am rejoicing that it is off my desk at long last and am hoping the editors will be as excited about it as I am. I will keep you posted as the book hopefully moves forward.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


The folks from University of Bremen, the University of Oldenburg and the Jacobs-University (Bremen) have put together an interesting summer school on "How Virtual is reality?" The school is aimed at Master students and PhD candidates interested in doing work and religion and the internet. The course will broach the issue of the relevance of new environments like "Second Life" or "World of Warcraft" for culture and social life with special focus on rituals and religions.

They state that Summer School participants will be able to design and perform research projects on religion in and within Virtual Worlds. I think this sounds like a great program for future religion and internet researchers and only wish something like this had been around when I was a PhD student.

Sacred Spaces online for Lent

For over a decade Sacred Space has offered opportunities to "spend ten minutes, praying here and now, as you sit at your computer, with the help of on-screen guidance and scripture chosen specially every day". During the Lenten season the site run by the Irish Jesuits offers a number of features from participating in an online way of the cross, be led through reflective daily prayers, sign up for an guided lenten sacred space retreat, or even send a Lenten Ecard. Unlike some of daily prayers offered on web sites it combines bible reading with prayer and appears on the screen in small chunks at a time so that you have to hit a forward arrow to progress through it. The slow transisitions give a meditative rythmn to the prayer which is quieting. The site also offers other options and links including an opportunity to pray with the pope.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Kosher google

It was only a matter of time... Koogle is new religious big portal in Israel that contains an index of business is kosher comprehensive and facilities to the orthodox jews. It features news to religious information on religious products especially for rabbis and the general religious public. Also is you are looking for a kosher torah search engine check out 4Torah.com recently launched as well.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

CFP: Islam and the Media

I wanted to post this interesting Call for Papers for an upcoming conference on the Islam and the Media to be held January 7-10, 2010. It will be hosted by The Center for Media, Religion and Culture in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Colorado, Boulder.

Here's the info...

The events of September 11, 2001 have unleashed an unprecedented period of global re-thinking of issues in media and religion. Islam has emerged as a major focus of inquiry and debate, but the interaction between contemporary Islam and the media has rarely been addressed.

This conference will thus engage a set of questions on the place of Islam within global, regional, national and local media.If we believe the torrent of popular headlines on Islam today, it seems that only Muslim extremists are talking about their religion, pursuing a project that claims to defend it from “secularized” Western culture. From Bin Laden’s call to jihad to the angry reaction of Muslims to the Danish cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, Muslims are portrayed in the media as irrational followers of a religion adamantly out of step with modernity. In the face of this, and perhaps in order to balance their coverage of Islam, Western journalists, pundits, and others have been asking “where are the moderate Muslims?” But few true moderates have emerged. Instead, some Western media have turned to another extreme: Muslim secularists or “Muslim non-believers”--voices which deserve media attention, but which arguably stand at the opposite fringe, rather than nearer the center of how Islam is lived and understood today.Muslims, both in the Muslim world and in the diaspora, have found themselves compelled to speak for the ‘real’ Islam and explain its relevance in modernity both to themselves and to non-Muslims. This process is at the same time generating divergent discourses that arguably are already coming to challenge the religious authority of clerical Islam. Today, Muslim men and women, young and old, secularists and Islamists, Westerners and Easterners, gay and straight, rappers and comedians, journalists and scholars, bloggers and televangelists, are changing the conventional pathways of religious discourse and disintegrating the old centers of knowledge production within Islam. In fact, Muslims around the world are taking advantage of new media platforms like the Internet and other forms of conventional media like satellite television, music and film to articulate an arguably ‘pure’ or ‘modern’ Islam. These media have become prime discursive spaces in which Islamic knowledge is contested, reinterpreted, and popularly re-mediated.

Given the unprecedented amplification of this inner struggle within Islam, it is imperative to ask questions such as: who speaks for Islam today using what original platforms? Does the pluralization of Muslim voices lead necessarily to innovations in the core of Islamic teachings or is it merely a shift in method to reaffirm a message of orthodoxy? Are these new voices accessible to large numbers of Muslims? And how are contemporary media deployed to facilitate this shift in Islamic knowledge production? Thus, a range of questions dealing with the mediation of Islam and other religions are also coming to the fore.

This international conference will bring together scholars on Islam and contemporary media, media professionals, activists and NGOs to reflect on the implications of these developments.

Papers and panels may address, but should not be limited to, the following topics:

• The representation of Islam in global media
• Images of Islam in Western entertainment media
• Muslim voices in Western media
• Media and the “clash of civilizations”
• Contemporary Islamic media and the transformation of religious knowledge
• The impact of new Muslim media on patterns of religious learning and practice
• The proliferation of Islamic websites and Islamic discourse on the Internet
• The weakening of traditional Islamic institutions
• Articulations of Islam in popular culture
• The intersections of Islam and consumer culture
• The impact of mediated transnational Islam on the Ummah and nation
• The role of Muslim diasporas in the new Islam
• The role of women in shaping the teachings of new Islam
• Muslim minorities’ use of media globally, regionally, and locally
• The impact of new media on social and cultural patterns in Muslim societies
• Representations of contemporary Islam in Muslim and Western media
• New Muslim media, public sphere and democracy
• Islam, globalization, and religious identity
• Contemporary Islamic thought and new mediations of Islamic heritage
•Methodologies: how to study Islam in the media age
•Methodologies: social-scientific, humanistic, and “theological” analyses
• Media and the making of Islamic religious “celebrity”

Confirmed Keynote Speakers

Charles Hirschkind: University of California, Berkeley- author of The Ethical Soundscape: Cassette Sermons and Islamic Counterpublics.

Zarqa Nawaz: filmmaker and writer of the critically-acclaimed TV series A Little Mosque in the Prairie.

Deadline: Please send a 300-word abstract by May 15, 2009 to Nabil Echchaibi at nabil.echchaibi@colorado.eduA detailed conference Website will be available shortly.

For further information and comments please contact Nabil Echchaibi at nabil.echchaibi@colorado.edu or Stewart Hoover at hoover@colorado.edu

Lent Online: Say a Prayer, Light a Candle, Read an E-devotion...

Well, we are well into the 3rd week of lent and while I have explored many other lent options online I have been remiss at posting them. (This is partially because I have been keeping my head down working on the final edits on a draft of the book for which this blog is named...) So to play catch up, here are two interesting options I have discovered:

First, at the website of St Bernards Abbey of Cullman, Alabama you can visit one of six online prayer chapels. By clicking on an candle you can enter request for prayer for yourself or a friend. The name of the person being prayed for then appears under the candle which seems to be lighted and flicker in a virtual wind. It even time burns down over time. I lit one in Christ the King chapel and saw that others had lit candles for prayers for elderly parents, children and friends in distress. So if you feel the urge to light a candle as prayer, check this out.

Another options is a Lenten Online devotional which I signed up for on Ash Wednesday. The daily devotional is written by students, staff and faculty of Goshen College and emailed each morning to subscribers. Each e-devotion offer a short reflection on a scripture portion chosen by the individual author related to their own personal lenten journey which I find quite interesting. They offer this service each Lent and Advent season. For more information check out this year's Lenten devotions.