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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
• Are these church services real
though many parts of the service
• Was it worship real or virtual?
• Was there a community who
attended the services or just
individuals hiding behind their
• (Please refer to The Matrix and the • The internet has become an
important part of the religious
activities of many religious
• 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,
• 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
• In the beginning of the quarter we
began with the premise that ‘religion’
is something we do in privacy and
• But this is not the historical
experience of religious communities.
Ritual and communal religious
gatherings mark most religions of the
world. The New Religious
• 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
• Its adherents are spread all over the
globe with increasing Muslim
populations in Europe and North
• 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
• Just like Christianity, Islam comes
with many local flavors and has a
great deal of ethnic, racial, and
• 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
• 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.
- Winter '08