Religion in the Digital Age

The subtitle of this blog reads, “searching for humanity in a technological world.”  At the core of this statement lies a belief that our lives have meaning and purpose. For better or worse, we live in an increasingly digital world, and it’s our goal to search for how we can retain the rich cultural and individual value of our lives within this modern context.

No matter what your personal beliefs are, it would be hard to deny that religion has and still does give meaning to the lives of billions of people on earth; that it has been a huge part of the historic, political, and cultural story of humanity; that most of us practice or have at least been affected in some way by religion.

prayer

It’s also hard to deny that how we live, work, play, and communicate have all been altered by modern technology.  (If you aren’t convinced of this, read some of our other articles!)

So what about religion–has the practice of religions changed?  Have they converted their teachings to PDF files?  Can you download an app that helps you remember the Muslim prayer times or to not eat fish on Fridays during Lent? (More on this to come in future posts).

pope tweets

A bigger question may be is this an issue at all, or am I splitting hairs?

As you can guess, I think it is something worth looking into. On one side of the spectrum, social media opens up huge outlets of communication for religions to tap into and spread their messages–i.e. the Pope’s Twitter account.  Social media allows religions to instantly access the home pages of millions of people; no more going from door to door with clip boards and pamphlets.

On the other hand, much of what is at the core of religions happens between two people face to face.  Showing true love and forgiveness for one another is hard to do in 140 characters.  And a heartfelt discussion about your prayer life isn’t likely to happen on a Facebook wall. You can’t get down and dirty serving the poor from behind a laptop screen.  In essence, I think a true experience of religion requires interaction in the physical world with the other person, whether that person is your Priest, Rabbi, a homeless woman, your spouse or friend.

jewish altar

This post is NOT meant to give answers, but just to get you thinking about these ideas that we’ll be diving into in our series on religion.  I don’t pretend to have the answers, but hopefully we’ll be able to discover some insights along the way.  Stay tuned!

MDB

Images from:

jspace.com, muslimvoices.org, and Pope Francis’ Twitter page

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Top 8 Reasons to Use a Map

As the writer of a blog that (mostly!) criticizes technology, it’s not surprising that I don’t have a smart phone.  However, I was almost changed of my stubborn, “dumb” phone ways a few weeks ago.

I was a groomsman in a good friend’s wedding in Savannah, GA ,a city I don’t know too well.  Between rehearsal dinners, wedding errands, and jumping around hotels, I realized that I was completely dependent on my friends’ iPhones to navigate the city.

What’s the point of not having a smart phone if I have to rely on others’ phones to get by?  How can I be so dependent and helpless in a new city?  As you can guess, my world began to collapse.

antique-maps-world

Then someone suggested that I just get a map.  So I grabbed a free, not-to-scale cartoon map from the Holiday Inn and set out to conquer the city.  Here’s why you should too:

8.  Blindly following Siri’s directions gets you from A to B, but it doesn’t help you actually learn the layout of a city.  Using a map helps you understand the layout and geography of a new locale.
7.  It makes you feel like Ferdinand Magellan.  Just on a slightly smaller scale.
6. Maybe it’s just me, but looking at a map and planning your day over coffee with friends is a great way to start a morning.
5. When a phone has only one bar, you’re in trouble.  When a map has only one bar, all it means is that you know exactly where you’ll end up that night.
4. You can fix a map with tape.
3. It’s a great skill to have, and the more you practice the easier it gets.
2. Contrary to what Verizon wants you to think, there’s a lot of un-connected places even in America where you can’t get cell phone or GPS service.
1. If the world goes the way of The Walking Dead, you’ll want to have your map of Georgia on hand.

dead

So go grab your map, machete, and Indiana Jones hat and go discover the unknown.  I’ll see ya there.

Images from:
travelbetweenthepages.com
wall.alphacoders.com