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The proliferation of religious and spiritual practices in new media spaces presents challenges and opportunities for religious leaders—and for the people who train them. This article reports on an interview-based study of theological educators actively engaged in preparing their students with skills and experiences for online engagement. We present and discuss seven digital literacies for ministry that emerged from our thematic analysis of transcript data and were subsequently refined with a subset of study participants. We conclude with a brief discussion of new initiatives this research has prompted.

In: Ecclesial Practices

This article presents exemplary insights into the state of digitization and the corresponding efforts of selected Evangelical Churches in Germany (the federal ekd and three of its member churches) to address an array of challenges triggered by the digital transformation. Three short reports on broader studies demonstrate how the church is responding to these challenges as an actor within civil society, as well as an organization and a community of faith. This preliminary assessment suggests that the ekd is capable of both: taking part in the societal debate as well as designing and reinventing itself anew in the digital realm. Nevertheless, it will do well to figure out more context-sensitive solutions while stimulating both ethical and theological discussions.

In: Ecclesial Practices

In this paper we look at mediatisation within the Roman Catholic Church. The article addresses the complex and diverse attitudes towards media in the church as an hierarchical organisation. Media-related, as well as other forms of communication were considered using the communicative figuration account in the qualitative analysis of the data. The analysis shows that the mediatisation amongst priests is generally low, although it increases in certain situations, such as within the committee structure of the organisation, to quite a high degree within lay groups. Our research suggests that there are opportunities for new participation in mediatisation, although the pace of innovation or datafication, for example, were not shown to be factors in this process.

In: Ecclesial Practices
Author: Steve Knowles

This article examines the recent engagement with media by the closed Christian sect, the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church (pbcc). Historically the pbcc have been reluctant to engage with mainstream media, preferring instead to keep their own council. However, the rejection by the Charity Commission for England and Wales of an application by a pbcc trust for charitable status proved to be a catalyst for significant and sustained media engagement. The concept of mediatization is utilised as a meta-process to frame the way the pbcc engaged with media in order to demonstrate how they provide ‘public benefit’ to the wider community, which was crucial to the successful gaining of charitable status.

In: Ecclesial Practices

As more and more people join social media networks, Christian churches struggle to discern how best to adapt to this emerging cultural phenomenon and employ it in ways that are consistent with Christian beliefs, values, and practices. This essay argues that as Christians explore the potential of digital media, they should not neglect to also reflect deeply on the negative aspects of the medium, which are increasingly coming under scrutiny among social scientists and media analysts. We raise this concern in response to our discovery of the capacity of digital media to contribute to church conflict while we were engaged in ethnographic field research in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. The essay identifies ways in which digital media exacerbated tensions among Anglicans and Episcopalians in Pittsburgh and concludes with a reflection on the limitations of one of our online attempts to intervene in these dynamics.

In: Ecclesial Practices

This article explores how churches present their religious identity online through the digital and multi-media resources they produce to showcase their ministries. In this study we focus on the digital performances of religious identity of multisite churches, which are churches that meet in multiple locations. We argue technology plays a key role not only in facilitating their church services, but in shaping members’ and visitors’ understanding of what church is within these contexts. This investigation leads us to a close study of digital media use of these churches, in order to uncover what factors such churches need to consider about their use of digital media if they are to ensure they are communicating cohesive and consistent identities in both the online and offline aspects of their church.

In: Ecclesial Practices
In: Numen
Author: Tiffany Hale

Abstract

This essay considers Jennifer Graber’s The Gods of Indian Country and Pamela Klassen’s The Story of Radio Mind together in considering new developments in the field of Native American and Indigenous studies. Hale examines how these books discuss the role of religion in shaping settler colonialism in North America in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She concludes that both works raise pressing methodological questions about how historians of religion can center the lives of Native American people in their work.

In: Numen