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A Web-based Database for Drawings of Gods

When the Digitals Go Multicultural

Zhargalma Dandarova Robert, Grégory Dessart, Olga Serbaeva, Camelia Puzdriac, Mohammad Khodayarifard, Saeed Akbari Zardkhaneh, Saeid Zandi, Elena Petanova, Kevin L. Ladd and Pierre-Yves Brandt

. Thus, using a standardized task wording remains a central issue, and can be quite challenging when cultural and linguistic differences are involved. Moreover, the word “god” can present itself under various forms within the same language, tapping into very different concepts. For example, both “burkhan

Mia Lövheim and Stig Hjarvard

these tendencies might be more pronounced in Western Europe, similar processes are visibly present in the US, the Russian Federation, the Middle East and Asia. As argued by Furseth (2018) , this situation of increased “religious complexity” calls for theories that can assess the presence of multiple

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.

Bill Endres

This essay examines complexities that attend digitizing a cultural heritage artifact that is sacred to a contemporary community. It argues that scholars must first determine how the artifact participates in the life of its community. If this participation is integral, scholars should treat the artifact as a present-day cultural phenomenon, inseparable from its community. To explain the implications of this shift, the author turns to ethnography, which has a lengthy tradition of interacting with communities for generating research. Photographing a sacred artifact is not unlike other ethnographic research, whether tape recording stories, collecting documents, or gathering information about social practices. To guide digital work, the essay proposes ethnographic ethical principles, demonstrating their value in digitizing the 8th-century St Chad Gospels at Lichfield Cathedral, England—supporting Jamie Bianco's recent call for an "ethical turn" in the digital humanities.

Seyedeh Behnaz Hosseini

This article presents a nuanced approach for qualitative research on the Internet, based on the synthesis of qualitative data-gathering methodologies both online and offline, and contributes to recent knowledge of changing practices within Yārsāni communities around the world. Yārsān is a religious belief of Indo-Iranian origin that traces back to Hooraman, a region in Iranian Kurdistan. Yārsān thought, which Islamic Shiite authorities treat as heretical, has extensively used processes of adaptation and strategies of survival throughout the course of its history.

The research presented here makes a case for the significance of the Internet and, more specifically, social network sites in connecting Yārsānis in their homelands and in the diaspora. How does Facebook provide a new space for this minority group to disclose their beliefs to the world, thereby reassessing the clandestine nature of their religion, which is a tenet required by traditional belief and defined by their adage, “don’t tell the secret”?

Lisa Kienzl

Portrayals of mediumship in modern Western television narratives need to be seen as part of a broader phenomenon of the presence of religious elements in Western media, a phenomenon I argue expresses a longing for grand narratives in contemporary Western society. The portrayal and mediatization of religious elements in television narratives as well as their discussion in digital fan culture are part of what I would call a transformation process of knowledge and in particular knowledge of religious phenomena. More specifically, digital fan culture allows for an engagement with discursive transformation processes of knowledge and thus influences what is perceived as knowledge in society. Therefore, religious studies needs to pay closer attention to television narratives and the way fans interact with these narratives to create knowledge about religious practices. This article focuses on how the elements of “possession” and “mediumship” are being transformed by the US American TV series Supernatural and its fan culture. I argue that we can see at least two transformation processes here: the transformation and transplantation of religious concepts and practices (in the case of this article the idea of the human body as spirit medium) into a television context, and the transformation of these concepts and practices through digital fan culture. In its discussion of fan culture, the article looks at and analyzes fan based websites and how they present, discuss and imagine the body-medium.

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.

Emily R. Stewart

Because the significance of a sacred text comes not only from its content but also its format and materiality, the rise of digital formats is especially a concern for the Jewish community, the ‘people of the book’ (Am ha-Sefer) whose identity is rooted in the Torah. Drawing together scholarship on the history of the book in its changing formats and an illuminative case study of the Jewish Torah in its digital iterations, the Jewish case presented here is instructive but certainly not unique. Despite dramatic changes in reading technology throughout history, readers have time and again used a new technology to perform the same functions as that of the old, only more quickly, with more efficiency, or in greater quantity. While taking advantage of the innovation and novelty which characterize digital formats, a concerted effort to retain much older operations and appearances continues to be made in this transition as well. The analysis in this article aims to further dispel the misguided notion of technological supersession, the idea that new reading technologies ‘kill’ older formats in a straightforward model of elimination.

Jack C. Laughlin

With the rise of atheism as a cause célèbre in the last decade or more, media and others have offered many interpretations for the apparent growth of nonbelief, ranging from the apocalyptic to the utopian. Many cite the Internet as a major contributing factor to this growth; undoubtedly new media have provided atheism with greater visibility. In this article it is argued that atheism as an Internet phenomenon ought to be understood less as the manifestation of a social fact and more as the discursive constitution of one or more publics in Michael Warner’s sense of the term. To this end, the article draws attention to a body of data that has received limited attention in scholarship to date, namely the blogs of some notable atheists. These are limited to blogs originating in the United States, and especially those by authors who identify as ‘progressive’. Thus, the conclusions drawn are not imagined to apply outside that context, nor are the sources employed considered to be representative of American atheism. But these limitations present no bar to the analysis of the particular discursive practices of the authors in question. Following Warner, virtual atheism as a public or publics has little capacity for agency: even if its growth as a social fact is true, and even as it develops agendas for social change, it is neither discursively or substantively robust enough to challenge any aspect of the contemporary neo-liberal order.

Iris D. Hartog, Michael Scherer-Rath, Tom H. Oreel, Justine E. Netjes, José P.S. Henriques, Jorrit Lemkes, Alexander Vonk, Mirjam A.G. Sprangers, Pythia T. Nieuwkerk and Hanneke W.M. van Laarhoven

life events that befall them (Scherer-Rath 2013) and to find meaning (Frankl 1986). The ever-present possibility of meaning relates to our ‘narrative intelligence’ (Scherer-Rath 2016): our ability to integrate disruptive life events into our life narratives, giving them a meaningful place without