Social Media–Assorted links and comment

The New Media Project, from Union Theological Seminary, has great commentary on the use and implications of social media for religious organizations. Here are some of the recent provocative essays:

“As people ‘of the Book,’ are we instead cultivating a Tweet and sound bite religion as opposed to one of narrative and story?”

Reklis began the conversation by writing:

I want to start thinking about the theology of this future we are living. That is, I want to start thinking about what we can say theologically about the human subjects we are becoming in the face of transformative social media.

I’m inclined not to diatribe about new technology. It’s here to stay, we can’t put the genie back in the bottle. Even monasteries, designed for retreat from the world, use websites and social media. But the existence of digital technology means we have to work harder to cultivate an interior life that notices. We have to learn again how to converse, to argue, to talk rather than to text.

While the evermore interconnected nature of our world doesn’t change the nature of God, it provides new models that can enrich our understanding. An abstract theological concept such as, “God is everywhere,” is somehow easier to visualize now that it feels as if we can be everywhere at once, if only virtually. The idea that we’re all part of the worldwide body of Christ is easier to grasp in an era in which we are joined in a nexus of communication that brings people together whether they’re across the street or in the mountains of northern India.

Rice points to something important. It’s easy to see the practical implications of social media–the increased power to communicate, the ability to create and maintain relationships across vast distances, but the deeper meaning of relating through facebook and other social media is more elusive. Reslik points in the same direction by asking about what kinds of human beings are we becoming by making use of technology. Rice takes it another step to ask, what is the church, the body of Christ, becoming?

Those of us who are incarnational in our theology may be somewhat suspect of relationships built and maintained through cyberspace rather than through the hard work of being together in community as the body of Christ and sharing the body of Christ.

From Forbes: “Top Ten Social Media Myths.”

Technology, life, and faith: Some links

It seems there are always those who contemplate the effects of new technologies (and now, social media) on our lives and our faiths.

We could begin with the Amish, who make careful, and what to outsiders seem arbitrary and irrational, decisions about technology.

Then there’s Johann Hari pleading for real books against the distractions of ebooks and the internet.

Someone asks what sort of Christians does contemporary worship create.

Jason Byassee encounters texting while teaching a Sunday School class and wonders how leaders should deal with the presence of smartphones and the like in church services or other meetings.

James Martin comments on the use of the web by Catholic organizations.

And Elizabeth Drescher identifies elements of the Digital Reformation. Based on the results of a Pew survey, she observes:

While participation in digital social networks does not cause participation in religious groups, digital social engagement parallels local religious engagement. Where these two paths intersect would seem to be a particularly fruitful locale for socio-spiritual encounter.