Thursday, April 30, 2009

CFP: Church and Mission in a Multireligious Third Millennium

I just got an e-announcement for who looks like a very interesting conference coming up in 2010. The Church and Mission in a Multireligious Third Millennium conference seeks to bring together especially scholars from the Nordic context to discuss issues a variety of related to issues of ecclesiology, ecumenism and missiology. The participant includes some of my friends and research colleagues including LeRon Schults, Knut Lundby and Goran Larrson.

One of the core themes is the "Church in Cyberspace." In this section they welcomes papers examining the relationship between church, mission and the new media, especially the Internet. How do the new media affect the ways in which the church operates? What impact do secularization, globalization and multireligiosity have on the church in cyberspace? Does the Internet offer new alternatives to traditional approaches to mission? Can church and congregational communities be built in cyberspace? If you are interested in more information contact, Peter Fischer-Nielsen at

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Science and Religion Primer Online

It is a bit of shameless self-promotion but I wanted to announce the website for my most recent book went live today. A Science and Religion Primer is an introductory guide to dialogues in science and religion and functions as a hybrid between a dictionary, encyclopedia and annotate bib. While this is only tangently relevant to the study of religion and new media it does have some interesting entries on topics such as technology and posthumanism (written by yours truly). If you are interested in the current debates on science and religion or are trying to get your head around such topics as the Duhem Quien Thesis or Mind-Body problems in science check it out!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Monasticism Online

I just learned of a new form of digital monasticism. describes itself as "ubiquitously digital spiritual community in which daily contact and familiarity are the rule" It seeks to create the sociological resemblance of monastic community in a networked form. Prayerbuddy helps member become part of a small online community (of about 8 members) that seek to they follow a simple rule of life in which they engage in classical practices (including daily prayer, lectio divina, spiritual journaling & spiritual direction) supported by technology. This digital monastic life also encourages new forms of interconnection such as "Perpetual, Wireless, Semantically Rich Presence To One Another" and "Semi Monthly Spiritual Conference Centered Around A Meal". So those who have always desired to fulfill their monastic inner calling of live as a contemplative, but can't live without your wireless no worries, prayerbuddy can help you marry the two!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

4 days till Internet Evangelism day

This coming Sunday some evangelical churches will highlight the potential of the Internet , by holding an 'Internet Evangelism Day'. The organizers see that the Web is a God-given tool for outreach, and provides help for Christians to use it effectively. They encourage
churches to build a presentation into their services or other activities on or near that day. Their website also serves as a year-round online resource guide with many ideas for web outreach and strategy . Internet Evangelism Day also offers an online self-assessment questionnaire, enabling churches to enhance their websites to reach out into the community. "Your church website is a 'shop window' for your community," says IE Day coordinator Tony Whittaker. The questionnaire creates a free evaluation report to highlight areas of a site that can be developed.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Networked Congregation Report

The Alban Institute has just released an interesting report entitled, Networked Congregations: Embracing the Spirit of Experimentation which seeks to analyze the challenges and possibilities being confronted by religious congregations in the digital age. The report is linked to an event I participated in a year ago at the Alban institute, but it is more than just a synopsis of the events topics. Rather Andrea Useem has woven together a number of interesting interview and in-depth personal narratives from people like Jeff Kivett and David Ambrose at, pastor-blogger Rick Lord, Lisa Colton of Darim Online, Greg Atkinson of Church 2.0 and others. If you are interested in exploring the question" What does the digital age mean for religious congregations?" I encourage you to check this out!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Chag Sameach & the Facebook Haggadah

Passover Blessings to you. It's the time of year when Jews ready their passover tables and pull out their haggadahs. The haggadah is the story of the Jewish exodus read by families during passover as a mark of communal rememberance and there are are multiple online versions of the haggadah such as the do-it-yourself open source haggadah. But this year a new and very playful one was brought to my attention called the the Facebook Haggadah which has to be one of the most creative versions I have seen recently. According to my friend Barry Wellman you don't have to be Jewish to enjoy this, but he says it helps.

A Study of Christian participation in online communities.

I recently got an email from a student at the The University of Illinois at Chicago who is trying to survey Christians' opinion and participation in online communities. I volunteered to help him out by posting his call for survey respondents here. So...if the shoe fits, I encourage you to take time to respond to the call below...

Hello everyone.
I am heading up a research project at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The project measures Christian opinions and participation in online communities.We need your help.

We need respondents to the following survey:

The survey is hosted on a professional online survey service. The survey is anonymous, so your privacy is protected.Participating in the survey is completely voluntary. The benefits of completing the survey are data for present and future research, as well as personal satisfaction. You may also request a copy of the research report once the survey has been completed. Your participation would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for your time.--

Kyong James Cho
Department of Communication
University of Illinois at Chicago

Monday, April 06, 2009

CFP: Chapters on the Internet and Apocalyptic Belief

I saw this CFP and thought that this might be of interest to some readers...

Network Apocalypse: Visions of the End in an Age of Internet Media

This edited collection of work by international scholars would document how Internet communication is creating, adapting, and recreating beliefs about an imminent mass transformation resulting in the end of human history. How are ancient prophetic beliefs faring in our everyday lives as they have become technologized by network communication? How do religious communities sharing these beliefs use the Internet? Are everyday religious believers empowered or disempowered by Internet technologies? Are gender, ethic, and racial divisions being broken down or reinforced? How are text-based prophetic traditions adapting to the more dynamic and fluid understanding of the Word in our digital age?

The answers to these questions are important for scholars from a wide range of disciplines working on questions about how the Internet is changing some of our most powerful and recurring religious beliefs.Each chapter of this book will focus on a specific sample of discourse that features apocalyptic beliefs. Comparative and theoretical chapters are also welcomed. Methods may be quantitative, qualitative, or a combination of both.

Chapter topics might include by are not limited to:Christian, Islamic, Jewish, or other traditional apocalyptic expression online;specific apocalyptic groups using the Internet;online prophecy and/or prayer practices;apocalyptic games, gamers, or gaming;apocalyptic expression in virtual worlds;apocalyptic communication via mobile communication technologies;new apocalyptic religious movements using the Internet;apocalyptic ideas or discourses that rely on theories of technology including concepts of “Gaia-mind,” “singularity,” and etc.

Please submit the following documents via email to Rob Howard ( by May 1, 2009:
1) a preliminary title for the proposed chapter
2) a 100-250 word abstract of the proposed chapter
3) a current CV

The successful abstracts will form part of a book proposal submitted in response to a request from Sheffield Phoenix Press for a series titled “The Apocalypse in Popular Culture.” Full texts will be requested at a later date. Sheffield Phoenix Press is an academic press specializing in topics of religion that is seeking to expand its catalog on apocalyptic belief in contemporary society.

Robert Glenn Howard
University of Wisconsin -- Madison
Associate Professor, Department of Communication Arts
Associate Chair, Folklore Program

Friday, April 03, 2009

Getting Centered Online

We are now coming to the end of week 5 of Lent and I have found it a week where centering prayer has helped keep me sane during a hectic time. Center or Contemplative prayer is a form of christian meditation. While many sites provide detailed explanations of the practice I have only found one so far that offers a guided virtual experience. At Contemplative Prayer for Everyone run by the Trappist of St Benedict's monastery offer audio teachings, a short online course on lectio divina and a contemplative prayer chapel, which takes you through a 2o minute guided reflection intended to help you center down and still one's self in prayer. So if you are looking for a Monastic guide online to assist you in your prayer time check out this site.