Friday, November 11, 2011

Tweets for Jesus: Religious Authority in the Twittersphere

In the past couple years Twitter has risen to the top of the social media network. Coupled with it's close friend, Facebook, these two networks play a vital role in today's digital society. What is interesting about Twitter in particular is that the forum is being used for an array of social and religious causes. Ever since the likes of Ashton Kutcher, John Mayer, and Larry King joined the "twittersphere" a couple of years ago, the idea of changing the world in 140 characters or less have forever changed how people convey their personal beliefs in the digital arena.

What is interesting about twitter is that the forum is not exclusive to the likes of the famous names mentioned above, but rather a number of Christian preachers and religious leaders have taken to the lifestyle as well. Preachers such as John Piper, Matt Chandler, and Mark Driscoll, each of which pastor congregations in the thousands, have utilized Twitter to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Cheong proposed that one of two aspects related to religious authority were taking place in the digital world: either the online realm was eroding and diminishing religious authority or it was being used to reframe and substantiate pre-existent offline religious authority. I believe in the case of these Christian religious leaders and their cultivation of Twitter, the digital medium is being used to further enforce their already prominent religious authority. The ability and readiness to send a messaged to hundreds of thousand of people through a mere text based message on a cell phone is an undeniably powerful tool. These Christian leaders are using Twitter to further their offline influence, allowing their message to spread not only throughout the globe, but across the world wide web as well. Twitter is being used to redefine and validate these credible religious leaders, and thanks to the new technology, they have the power to change the world, all in 140 characters or less.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Supplement or Substitute? (Round II)

My paper will investigate whether the online community within Christianity is a supplement or a substitute to face-to-face interaction. As discussed in earlier blogs, this is a very interesting topic that will take a lot of research and first hand experience to investigate and get properly pinned down. Possible case studies include Second Life, Facebook, and Lifechurch. For the sake of simplicty, let's focus on Facebook for now.

There are a number Facbook pages that are dedicated to Christian religious practices and community. Whether it be sermons, message boards, or prayer requests, this social network is becoming a vital player in Chrisian community. I personally believe that Facebook is being used as a substitute for the original face to face community. In many instances in my own personal experiences, people have posted prayer requests, praises, and various lines of encouragement, but fail to lead the same lives offline. Facebook is becoming a platform for religious community that is evoling into a complete substitute for the "real thing." If these other case studies, such as Second Life and Lifechurch are similar to Facebook, I believe we are seeing a trend of the online community emerging into a complete substitute for the traditional face-to-face religious community.