Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Religion and New Media

In week six we will be looking at how religious groups approach new media. Think back to the example we talked about the first week, the Amish response to the telephone. This case study demonstrated that rather than reject new media all together, many religious groups instead resist those aspect of the technology that run counter to their religious values. This often leads them to reconstruct their use or language related to that form of media. So in the assigned reading think critically and reflect how Jews and Muslims resist, reconstruct and talk about new media.

We will be exploring a study I conducted related to religious responses to the Internet, and what they have to tell us about how new media impacts religious communities view of traditional religious authority. In Who's got the power Religious authority and the Internet, I draw on interviews conducted with Jewish students from the University of Haifa and Muslim students at Al Qasami Academy in Israel on their views about the internet. Based on the data shared in the article what issues of religion and belief influence their views about new media technology? How do these differ between the Jewish and Muslim student?


Christina Scalera said...

The article "Who's Got the Power? Religious Authority and the Internet" provides insight to the ways in which different religious groups view the world wide web and its consequences (both malicious and beneficial) to their religious groups and selves. One problem many groups saw with the use of the internet in their religion was that anyone can detain themselves as an authoritative figure online by giving advice in public forums, which may lead to misinformation as well. Christians saw the internet as a good technology, regardless of the need for it or not. Many thought that they were "gaining a greater understanding of the 'global body of Christ." Additionally most Christians said their online experience mad them feel closer to other members of their community and overall regarded the internet as entertaining, insightful, and all around a positive daily experience.

Muslims held a slightly stricter view of the internet, and worried that their children and loved ones would be exposed to things they did not want them exposed to. Rather than tell them what to look at and what not to, Muslims felt that they should censure sites and images. Muslims view the internet as a necessary evil.

Those of the Jewish faith least liked the internet, especially as Orthodox Jews. The orthodox didn't like the internet because they feel that their personal identity is secondary to their religious identity. By allowing use of the internet, it provides too much freedom in establishing personal identity. To me, it seemed like this was similiar to the private T.V.'s that some religious groups hide in their homes. To Judaism, the internet seemed like the last possible resort to communication.

Lizzie M. said...

The article "Who's Got the Power? Religious Authority and the Internet" begins by analyzing and explaining authority. This first part of the article concentrates on how the idea of religious authority relates to religion online. There are many different kinds of authority that vary when studying different types of religious traditions. Explained in great detail, are the four areas when discussing authority: hierarchy, structure, ideology and text. While reading the interviews, almost half of the references discussed official structures, systems or hierarchies. Moving into the article there are collections of interviews with Christians, Jews, and Muslims about the internet associating with authority. Many interesting points are addressed and answered concerning how religious practice is changing, in these religions, due to internet growth.
While reading "Christianity and Authority" and the interviews, I learned that all four areas of religious authority are addressed. I feel that Christians have a positive overall view of the internet and religion. They felt the internet provided information helping the church understand the practices of the Christian church. One described the internet as "a space that encourages both personal and corporate reflection on issues important to the Anglican Communion”. When comparing religion to the internet, Christians feel the internet might possibly create "an outlet for spiritual or social interaction".
After reading about "Islam and Authority", I understood that when combining religion and the internet, texts and hierarchy are the two authorities addressed. The Koran gives a positive point of view on technology encouraging them to use it. This subject was brought up in many interviews how the Koran justified and supported the use of technology [internet]. Aside from the Koran, the teachings in Islam vary. Some sermons and teachings present a positive view, for the same reasoning as the Koran, and some have a negative perspective. Those with negative views feel the internet not only exposes negative moral influences to Muslims, but might spread negative publicity relating to Islam.
Religious structure was the main authority addressed with "Judaism and Authority". When reading about "Judaism and Authority", I recognized that their main concern with religion and the internet were religious restrictions dealing with technology. For example, the Mitzvot explains the guidelines on the uses of electricity on the Shabbat. For the Jews, the Internet is described as "a technology that sets new challenges for interpreting how its use relates to recognized codes of practice for religious Jews." When making decisions about the use of the internet, the answers are left up to the community. There are different groups throughout the community based on their roots and beliefs. The most conservative area of Judaism is the Ultra Orthodox community. They are very strict, and their way of life is less modern than that of other groups. It describes the Ultra Orthodox Jews as a "community of one voice." Many view the internet in a negative perspective due to its "personal freedom". Another group is know as the Modern Orthodox Jews. They feel the connection between religion and the internet is indirect and that as long as you focus on religion, you should be able to make choices when concerning technology.
Overall, the main concern for these three religious groups is that, in belief and practice, the internet challenges traditional religion.

Discussion Questions to think about:
*With the many areas addressed in the article, what do you think is meant when the term "authority" is used?
*Going back to the section on "Judaism and Authority", how do you think "authority" between Modern Orthodox and Ultra Orthodox differs?

mah said...

To evevry one who is interested in Media and Religion!

You are kindly invited to participate in the second international conference on religion and media which will be held november 2008 in Iran. for more information,please visit our website:
if I have your email address i will send you the invitation letter.
Mahdiye Tavakol
Conference coordinator