Similar to last week, I continually find myself questioning the validity of religious practices in the online arena. I voice this uncertainty as no means to sound disrespectful, but rather can't help but question if online worship is the thing for me. Last week I wrestled with the legitimacy of sacred online rituals. This week I shift my focus to the authenticity of online community, specifically within a religious context.
In class we cracked open the case of St. Pixels and the Online Church. Both of these online forums are a dominating presence in the digital religious world. I by no means question the impact of their ministry, but rather the personalization of online chat rooms versus face to face conversation. According to Hutchings, visitors of the Online Church "watch broadcasts, interact through a supervised chatroom, pray with volunteers in one-to one chat" (Hutchings, 7). Though these are all helpful tools to build others up in the Christian faith, I personally do not believe they can fully replace the realness of a face to face community. These chat rooms are great, but must be used as a supplement, not a substitute. As is the case with the Online Church, it is a great resource for Christians around the world, but it will not replace the profitable effects of real community.
The online community is a great tool for those seeking fellowship, specifically within a religious context. But at the end of the day, nothing is a substitute for the real thing.
Hutchings, T. Considering religious community through online churches. Retrieved from http://elearning.tamu.edu