Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Idenity Online

This week we are exploring issues related to how religious identity is perceived and performed online. We started discussing identity from the perspective that it relates to the process by which an individual develops the ability to grasp meaning about the situations of everyday life and their relationship to those events. We also discussed how perceptions regarding how identity is constitute have changed over time from identity being seeing as an in-born or static construct to something we are socialized into to the post-modern notion of identity being fluid and fragmented.When discussing identity online we considered a number of issues and concerns scholars have had about the performance of identity online, including how issues of anonymity and disembodiment can lead both to deception and increased freedom of experimentation, as well as the nature of participatory culture creates new complexities for identifying and living out the "authentic self" online.

The Lovheim reading also raised two important questions:

- Does digital media strengthen or weaken individual's ability to construct or perform their religious identity?

-Does one's online religious identity have to be connected to a specific offline religious tradition or group to be seen as truly "authentic"?

Students should select one of these question to respond to in their blogs and should reflect on a concrete example on religious engagement online (in a specific forum, website or platform) to help illustrated your argument and supports your claims.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Community Online

This week we are exploring the question of what constitutes community online.  The argument was made in this week's chapter that in the last 50 years we have seen a change in the way community is understood an practiced. This has been a movement from people living in tightly bounded social structures, to interacting in loose social networks with varying levels of affiliation and commitment from its participants. This is exemplified in how many online communities form and function in various new media platforms.

This new understanding of community often challenges traditional religious communities, which frequently have rigid boundaries or strong hierarchical structures.  Therefore there is much debate about whether an email community, social media network or a church which exists in Second Life and truly be seen as religious community.  Key concerns include whether a disembodied community is problematic within certain theological context or is online gathering are disconnected from offline religion?

This week's blog should explore a specific example of a religious online community and address the following questions.

- How does this group define itself as a community?
- How do they structure or live out their form of online community?
- What might be the offline impact  of this online community on their particular religious tradition?

Happy blogging!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ritual Online

This week we are exploring how religious individuals and groups translate and adapt their  rituals online.  What constitutes a ritual and how ritual is conceived is notions debated by sociologists and religious studies scholars. In class we discussed two different approaches, investigating "what ritual is" or focusing on "what ritual does". In the Helland reading, he offers us the following base definition as "ritual is the purposeful engagement with the sacred, whatever the sacred may be for those involved".  We also discussed the tensions and debates regarding online verse offline rituals including questions of :

How do ritual work online?
Can they have supernatural efficacy?
Are there any benefits to online ritual activities?
What are the limits of online rituals? and
What needs do these rituals fulfill for individuals and communities?

This week's blog post should reflect on the assigned readings and address one or more of these questions and explore a concrete example of ritual online related to your blog's theme?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Class Blogging in COMM 460

In weeks 5-11 students will create and post on their own blogs related to course themes.  Students blogs should focus on digital media and a particular religious tradition (Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhisms, etc.) and/or one of the focused course themes for section 2 of the class (ritual, community, identity, authority, authenticity or digital religion). Each week you are to post a 200-300 word commentary on a particular research article or example related to your chosen theme with relevant links or images illustrating your discussion. Post must appear online by 5pm each Friday to receive credit for the relevant week. Happy Blogging!