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Cultural challenges to faith: a reflection on the dynamics of modernity
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Parramatta South Campus Library. R46 Book; Illustrated English Show 0 more libraries D Book; Illustrated English Show 0 more libraries The following is an edited transcript. Q: How do you see change happening on and offline, and how does each reflect the other?
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The concept of networked religion is recognizing that religious practices and relationships are being informed by the structures of the networked society. The social relationships that we live in are now increasingly decentralized. Religion and religious culture are also being influenced and shaped by these larger forces in society that people like [sociologist] Manuel Castells have talked about.
In a networked society, if we live in a place that we have more global interconnections and sense of accountability, and our traditional relationships and patterns of belief are becoming much more individualized and less tied to institutional constraints and boundaries, we get a version of religion that is much more individual.
Religion Online: Finding Faith on the Internet
One of the fears has been, for the last decade, that people would plug in, log on and drop out of society and church and different social relationships. But what scholars have found is that people online are importing their belief structures and understandings into that new space. The Internet is not transforming religion.
Q: What kind of advice or guidance or ways of thinking about this would you suggest to people who are still committed to existing institutions? One thing I do with networked religion is that I identify five key characteristics of networked religion, this highly mobile, dynamic, fluid, loosely bound form of religiosity online. So these are some places that you can have some specific conversations about how these traits may be affecting your community, or to what extent you would see this trait as something you could leverage for the positive -- or see it as problematic.
One example, one characteristic is networked community. So people have varying levels of commitment and affiliation and may be involved in more than one religious community, and they network them together through their daily lifestyle and their practices in using media and other events to connect those things.
For many people, especially young people, the church they go to on a Sunday is just one part of their religious community and network. People no longer live in these tightly bound groups that are defined by family or institution or geography. And in what ways can we leverage that?
Another characteristic is the idea of what I call storied identity.
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