Friday, November 11, 2011

Authority Through Blogs

This week in class we discussed the issue of authority online. The article by Pauline Cheong highlights two assumptions that raise interesting points. She highlights that first, "authority is being eroded by online religious activities and this is highly problematic for religious communities," and second, "offline religious authority is being sustained and reframed by online practice, in ways that support traditional views."

One particular medium we looked at was authority through blogging.  Paul Teusner wrote an article, "Formation of a Religious Technorati: Negotiations of Authority among Australian Emerging Church Blogs" in which focused on this particular topic. Although I would not consider myself a blogger with religious authority, I agree that authority figures can be found online and as Cheong mentions, threaten offline religious authority figures. In regards to the Christian faith this is exemplified in uneducated bloggers, bloggers who challenge the Bible as an authoritative text, and bloggers who make up or add their own beliefs to traditional Christian doctrine. On the other hand, Cheong's second assumption highlights the positives online religious authority has in support of the Christian faith. For example, blogging expands the Christian community. This allows followers insight into other bloggers Christian walk, including how they deal with struggles in their life, or how God is using them. Bloggers who have authority online can inspire others in their faith daily, whereas offline churches are limited to Sunday mornings.

Authority online is constantly up for debate amongst scholars. I however, would agree with Cheong in her two assumptions in which authority online can both threaten religious authority offline as well as be used to positively support traditional views. This is portrayed amongst the Christian faith through the use of blogs. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Glance Into Paper 2: Christian Ritual of Baptism

The purpose of this literature review is to examine how Christian communities online perform rituals and what impact this has on the offline local church.  The analysis begins by exploring the definition of “ritual,” and continues by studying gathered literary sources that have focused on the relationship between the online and offline church. Through multiple sources involving experts in the field of religious studies, a critical review provides a foundation that will lead into a case study.  The case study will be exploring the baptismal ritual and how online churches have performed it over the Internet. Specifically, I will analyze the elements involved in this ritual and raise questions regarding its involvement with the "sacred" online. This study will aid my focus in developing opinions regarding the relational consequences of rituals held online verses rituals held in a traditional church setting. The purpose of the case study will not be to legitimize ritual online, but to highlight ritual elements that are to be negotiated and compensated for, between the two mediums (online church and offline church).  This study will not only require analyzing specific examples of online baptism, but will particularly require studying the impacts this has on local church bodies.