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Mads Damgaard

Marshalling scientific arguments and methods for religious ends is certainly not a new trend in religious expressions, but new modes of writing scientifically legitimated myths has developed online. Computer-mediated communication provides new tools for such a fusing of religion and science, and the present article asks what this entails for categories of religious authority and authenticity. Taking online expressions of the Neo-Pagan faith called Asatrú, a 9,500 year-old skeleton and an associated modern North American conspiracy theory as the starting points, a configuration of religious authenticity derived from scientific sources is analysed. The case is made that through hyperlinks, YouTube videos and discussion forums, religious communities such as the online Asatrú groups strategically assemble religious authority on a foundation of science, tapping into non-religious ecologies of knowledge available online. This puts into question theoretical premises such as notions of the secular and differentiation of rationalities. Research in CMC and religion, it is argued, must take into consideration the specific hybrid knowledges facilitated by online structures and technologies.

Moisés Sbardelotto

Through digital technologies, a new form of communicational interaction between the user and the sacred occurs in an online religious experience. This phenomenon is illustrated in practice by numerous religious services present in the online Catholic environment, which manifest new modes of discourse and religious practices, beyond the scope of the traditional church – what I term here “online rituals” – marked by a process of mediatization of religion. In this paper, from a corpus of four Brazilian websites, I analyze key concepts for the understanding of this phenomenon, including digital mediatization and interface. I examine, in these Brazilian Catholic websites, the communicational configurations of the religious experience from five areas of the interactional interface: the screen; peripherals; the organizational structure of content on websites; the graphic composition of the webpages; and possible interface failures. Finally, I examine a shift in the communicational dynamics of religion today, marked by new materialities present in online religious rituals.

Anton Karl Kozlovic

Legendary producer-director Cecil B. DeMille was a seminal cofounder of Hollywood, a progenitor of Paramount Pictures, and an unsung auteur who was not only an early pioneer of the religion-and-film genre but became the undisputed master of the American biblical epic. However, the many deftly engineered sacred subtexts, thematic preoccupations, and aesthetic skills of this movie trailblazer were frequently denied, derided or dismissed during his lifetime and decades thereafter. This situation is in need of re-examination, rectification and renewal. Consequently, following a close reading of Samson and Delilah (1949) and a selective review of the critical DeMille, film and religion literature, this article uses Delilah’s (Hedy Lamarr) “thorn bush” tag, given to her during the wedding feast confrontation scene with Samson (Victor Mature), to explicate ten thorn bush themes that reveal some of the hidden depths of C.B.’s biblical artistry. Utilising textually-based humanist film criticism as the guiding analytical lens, this article concludes that DeMille was a far defter biblical filmmaker than has hitherto been appreciated. Further research into DeMille studies, biblical epics, and the religion-and-film field is warranted, recommended and already long overdue.

Davide Zordan

This paper discusses the television broadcasting of Catholic Masses in Italy today from an interdisciplinary perspective that integrates theology with religion and media studies as well as television studies. After a brief overview of the history of television broadcasting of the Mass and a discussion of its rapid theological acceptance, the paper analyzes the unique success and “proliferation” of televised Masses in Italy. Looking at some of the common characteristics of televised Masses across Italian broadcasting channels, the paper concludes with a reflection on the specificity of (televised) Mass as a ritual action.