Support the Café
Search our site

Technology enhancing faithfulness

Technology enhancing faithfulness

Maybe at one time religious leaders thought that printed books or periodicals meant the end of religion. It was considered a radical reform when printed Bibles in English were introduced into every parish church in England. Today there are many who think that the internet and social media will harm faith by interfering with the intimacy and immediacy of human relationships.


Lisa Miller, writing in the Washington Post, discusses how the best apps enhance religion.

Information technology means the end of organized religion — or, at least, that’s what the opinion-makers say. The existence of Google, argued the atheist Hemant Mehta on the Web site of this newspaper, “is a death knell for religion as we know it,” because it enables people to instantly discover verifiable truths about the universe (evolution, the sex lives of clergy). In a pre-Internet world, they could have been kept in the dark. Last month, 40,000 Orthodox Jews met in a New York baseball stadium to bemoan the erosion of values in their communities thanks to the Internet. “It brings out the worst in us!” a spokesman for the event told reporters.

I would argue that the opposite is true. Technology can greatly enhance religious practice. Groups that restrict and fear it participate in their own demise.

Take the Sikh app, for instance. It’s cool on a practical level. It distributes pertinent information to a specific group in need of that information. But it also has perhaps unintended spiritual and religious consequences. It encourages among users a broad sense of community and mutual support, which is what good religion does. It abets religious affiliation, promotes action in the face of injustice or oppression, and welcomes outsiders, or anyone who experiences discrimination at airports, to use the app and see themselves, in some way, as Sikhs.

All the best religion apps do this: They support religious practice rather than substituting for it. Michael McBride, an economist at the University of California at Irvine, teaches a freshman course called the Economics of Religion. Understanding that religion is always about people making choices, he asks students to research the coolest religion apps. He also showcases some of his favorites, including Insight Timer, which announces the start and end of Zen meditation sessions with the chiming of bells: “Crystal clear, with extra long fade-outs.”

0 0 vote
Article Rating
Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

4 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Susan Kleinwechter

It looks like you have the incorrect link for the Washington Post article by Lisa Miller. The correct one, I believe, is http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-06-01/national/35462192_1_app-religion-news-sikhs

FrCallaham

“Information technology means the end of organized religion,” seems a little bit dramatic to me. That is, unless she means that it it no longer necessary to teach confirmands how to list all the books of the bible in their canonical order. Such “organization” in our religion feels less important in the age of google, youversion and Kindle.

Art Callaham

tgflux

“It was considered a radical reporm when printed Bibles in English were introduced into every parish church in England.”

I’m REALLY hoping this is a typo, and not some Facebook/Twitter-originated (I boycott both) jargon I’m not familiar with! ;-X

JC Fisher

tgflux

“It was considered a radical reporm when printed Bibles in English were introduced into every parish church in England.”

I’m REALLY hoping this is a typo, and not some Facebook/Twitter-originated (I boycott both) jargon I’m not familiar with! ;-X

JC Fisher

Facebooktwitterrss
Support the Café
Past Posts
2020_012
2020_013_B
2020_013_A
2020_011

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café