Give ME That Online Religion
The future of online religion is now!Operating online allows long-established religious communities to reach the unaffiliated like never before. More startling is the ease by which anyone with internet access can create new circles of faith. Electronic shrines and kitschy personal Web "altars" express adoration for living celebrities, just as they honor the memory of long-departed martyrs. In "Give Me That Online Religion," online religion expert Brenda Brasher braves a new world in which cyber concepts and technologies challenge conventional ideas about the human condition--all the while attempting to realize age-old religious ideals of transcendence and eternal life.As the Internet continues its rapid absorption of culture, "Give Me That Online Religion" offers pause for thought about spirituality in the cyber-age. Religion's move to the online world does not mean technology's triumph over faith. Rather, Brasher argues, it assures religion's place in the wired universe, along with commerce and communications--meeting the spiritual demands of Internet generations to come.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
"Electronic Prayer-wheels, cybercast seders, and Heaven's Gate--with more than a million Internet religion sites, a critical guide to the phenomenon of cyber-religion is sorely needed. Give Me That Online Religion is at once fascinating, troubling, amusing, and provocative--a lively tour through computer-mediated spirituality, presented in terms both the novice and the scholar can appreciate. Brasher raises important moral questions about cyberspace and those who venture there, whether as practitioners, voyeurs, or accidental tourists in the new sacralities of our cyborg future." (Vivian-Lee Nyitray, Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies Chair) "Over the centuries, religion has often taken the role of finding fault with and condemning nearly all human advancements. It is this judgmental approach and attitude which has caused the many social marginalizations of religious voices from the contemporary social discussions. Dr. Brasher's book is an inspired change. Her detailed study of "holy hyperlinks" celebrates what is good about the Internet. She enables us all to see the great possibilities which the Internet affords to get the spiritual point of faith and faiths, rather than fighting over the dividing rules of religion. It is a very good book." (Rev. Dr. Kenneth W. Chalker, Senior Pastor, First United Methodist Church, Cleveland) "Brings into focus what many of us suspect, but haven't fully articulated-the computer is reshaping our spiritual sensitivities. Takes on the important question on how a new technology is forcing us to look again at old and enduring religious themes, and does so in an imaginative and provocative manner." (Wade Clark Roof, J.F. Rowny professor of religion and society, University of California at Santa Barbara) "One can find no better guide to cyberspace's impact on the complex passions and strivings of premodern, modern, antimodern, and postmodern humanity that this brilliant, empathic, and unfailingly honest inquiry. Few writers on religion can combine critical acuity and great-hearted compassion the way Brenda Brasher does." (Richard Landes, director, Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University) "Dr. Brasher's research and observations on the vitality of online religion are extremely valuable to anyone interested in the intersection of cyberspace and spirituality." (Lin Collette, independent scholar and contributing editor, Religion Watch) "One of our most adept guides to modern religion, Brasher provides the first serious look at how the Internet is transforming spirituality and gazes into the always-intriguing, sometimes-frightening future of global religion in the brave new era of cyberspace." (Gershom Gorenberg, senior editor, The Jerusalem Report, and author of The End of Days) Whatever its origin, what of religion's future? One avenue of the ever-burgeoning religious landscape is cyberspace, the subject of the aptly titled "Give Me That Online Religion," by Brenda Brasher (Jossey-Bass/Wiley, $24.95). It is a delightful romp through the new world of cyber-spirituality. Global prayer-chains, e-prayer wheels, cybercast seders and neo-pagan cyber-rituals are all practiced from home, finally making Martin Luther's proclamation of "every man his own priest" a virtual reality. The book's Web-like design and typography make it fun to surf. Even mainstream religions have gone online, offering adherents and potential converts a smorgasbord of doctrines to download (except Scientology, whose lawyers pounced like a Torquemada on an ex-member who was posting the church's religious documents online). Much of this book will leave you LOL and ROTFL (that's computer-ese for laughing out loud and rolling on the floor laughing), my favorite example being Brasher's discussion of the more than 800,000 web "shrines" devoted to Lady Diana and other celebrities. "Scanning fan sites, it is easy to believe that the spiritual discipline of imitato Christus has been replaced by imitato Keanu Reeves." For those who do not wish to risk choosing the wrong God to achieve immortality, read about the transhumanists, who believe that some day we will be able to download our minds from our protein brains, which survive only about a century, to silicon-chip brains that can last hundreds of centuries, by which time they will be downloadable in to something more permanent still, quite literally ad infinitum. Heady stuff for us finite beings to contemplate. ("The Washington Post," Sunday, June 10, 2001) ..".lots of fascinating insights here..." ("Christian Herald," 29 September, 2001) ..".Brasher's analysis is bold, arresting, hip and approaching." (Catholic Herald 28 December 2001)