Peterson Internet Religious Communities

Peterson Internet Religious Communities - Greg Peterson The...

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Unformatted text preview: Greg Peterson The Internet and Christian and Muslim Communities Focus • How does modern constantly technology affect practices across religious communities. • The first virtual church service took place in 2004. • The church appeared on the computer screen much like a chat room, each participant had an avatar. Mine was: My Avatar in the Virtual Church Virtual vs. Real Church • The author asks the following question: • Are these church services real though many parts of the service were real? • Was it worship real or virtual? • Was there a community who attended the services or just individuals hiding behind their keyboards? • (Please refer to The Matrix and the • The internet has become an important part of the religious activities of many religious communities. • Like any other mass form of communication, the internet both reflects and shapes the cultural landscape of America. And this includes the religious systems of the Americans. Religion and Technology • Historically, despite belief to the contrary, religions have been remarkably adept at using new technologies to their benefit. • Papyrus, paper, radio, television, telephone, newspapers. • Technology and religion offer each other mutual benefits and they end up transforming each other. • Technology can empower religious believers and propel them to action. Television • Television is a passive medium. It requires the viewer to observe. • Thus simply watching a religious service may not be as gratifying as watching a dynamic televangelist healing the sick. Internet • Unlike television, the internet is interactive and allows the participant some degree of control over their interaction with their interlocutor. • The ubiquity and interactiveness of the internet makes it a better tool to involve religious believers. Religion as a Solitary Activity • In the beginning of the quarter we began with the premise that ‘religion’ is something we do in privacy and solitude. • But this is not the historical experience of religious communities. Ritual and communal religious gatherings mark most religions of the world. The New Religious Individual • The internet fosters religious activity away from the community and allows the individual to act as an individual. • Whereas once people may have pursued answers to their questions in Bible study groups, they can go to an internet site to seek the answers to the same questions. • The internet also encourages individuals to seek answers to questions which they may not have considered before. Location and Community • Whereas in the past, a religious community would be defined by the physical space they occupied, nowadays the community can be worldwide. Churches, mosques, temples, and synagogues from all over the world can be connected with others from the same religious tradition as well as with centers of different religious taditions. Islam and Cyberspace • Islam, like Christianity, is a world religion. • Its adherents are spread all over the globe with increasing Muslim populations in Europe and North America. • The Muslim concept of ‘ummah’ (one community of believers) now transcends physical space with the advent of the internet. • It would be erroneous to assume the unified nature of Islam all over the world. • Just like Christianity, Islam comes with many local flavors and has a great deal of ethnic, racial, and geographic diversity. • The most obvious case of the reach of the internet in Muslim communities is the spread of radical Muslim groups who use the internet • Simultaneously, individual Muslim practices are influenced by the reach of the internet. • Just like the cyber Christian community, Muslims looking to lead a pious and devoted life according to the principles of Islam can reach out through the internet to consult many religious scholars to seek answers to their questions. Is the Internet Good or Bad for Religion? • So far we have focused on the positive effects of the use of internet by religious communities in the US. • It is entirely possible that the internet in the hands of state agencies can become a tool of oppression particularly when that community is deemed to be collectively guilty of terrorist acts. • The internet offers contradictory benefits to religious believers: they are individuals as well as communities but communities that do not have real and tangible connections within the community. ...
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This note was uploaded on 04/28/2008 for the course RLST 012 taught by Professor Hamid during the Winter '08 term at UC Riverside.

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