Thorny Issues of Religion Online
This blog and the King of Peace website it accompanies online work together with email lists from the church to provide our congregation's online presence. It's taken almost as a given these days that a church will maintain at least minimal presence in cyberspace. But there are downsides and these are explored in an interesting article Sacred Texting: When Religious Writ Gets Wired by Rachel Wagner for Religion Dispatches. She writes in part,
Is something important lost in the 2005 translation of the entire Bible into SMS, when the first passage in Genesis becomes: “In da Bginnin God cre8d da heavens & da earth?” And what are we to make of the “Text Mary” service, embraced in 2005 in the Philippines, which allows worshippers to send text prayers via cell phones to then be included in the Catholic mass? Should Muslims consider a divorce legitimate if the husband, who is required to tell his wife three times that he wishes to divorce her before it is final, simply texts her or emails her instead of telling her personally, a problem that Malaysian Muslims have recently been addressing? In Malaysia, the practice was banned, but Egypt was still debating the issue in January 2008.The article is interesting and the full text (Sacred Texting: When Religious Writ Gets Wired) is worth a read.
I know that the Incarnation (God becoming human in Jesus) was not virtual reality (as some early heretics claimed) and that the practice of Christianity must involve real people coming together in real space and time. But I find that the article's quote of Pope John Paul II captures well enough my own thoughts when he wrote,
While the Internet can never replace that profound experience of God which only the living, liturgical and sacramental life of the Church can offer, it can certainly provide a unique supplement and support in both preparing for the encounter with Christ in community, and sustaining the new believer in the journey of faith which then begins.Christians do not need an internet connection, but there are, nonetheless, sites and tools on the internet that can enhance your spiritual journey. I consider these toe holds in cyberspace essential for faith communities as there is also much online to distract or tempt the faithful off the path. What do you think?
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor