Thursday, November 10, 2011

GodTube and Authority Online

When discussing religious authority, Cheong expressed that it is a difficult idea to define. Authority itself is said to be an “ascribed asymmetry between speaker and audience” (Cheong, p.4). Meaning, the audience and speaker have an understood agreement that the audience believes what the speaker says to be true. Speakers have the power to influence the audience and, in return, the audience respects the superiority relationship. When it comes to religion, before the Internet offered a free and open space for religious discourse, individuals had to go through extensive theological education to gain authority. GodTube offers a medium where religious authority is brought into question. It is a website, much like YouTube, that allows anyone to post family-friendly videos in relation to their faith. At first glance, GodTube would appear to follow the assumption of the Logic of Complementarity seeing that it doesn’t threaten traditional religious authority. It features tradition pastors’ and priests’ sermons presented at offline churches and supplementary videos that don’t throw religion in your face to question authority but instead are simply absent of vulgarity and secular content. There are even videos that focus on authority coming from God and the church alone. This demonstrates how this particular medium, GodTube, is aware that the Internet has become one of the most popular tools for portraying religious information but the information can still be authentic and follow traditional beliefs. However, in Cheong’s article she also touches on Meyrowitz’s argument that “the authority of leaders [is diminished] when a medium allows different people to have open access and gain greater control over knowledge and social information” (Cheong, p.1). This is also evident in GodTube example. The multiple contributors to the site is problematic for religious communities; more in line with the Logic of Disjuncture. The people who post videos on GodTube can be seen as authoritative by the definition that authority means to have the power of influence; the number of "hits" videos receive indicate they are drawing an audience.

Check out other videos featured on GodTube!

Cheong, P. (n.d.). Authority . 1-33.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Supplement or replacement?

The i-Church is an online community founded in 2004 whose mission statement is to educate those who wish to know more about Christianity and to support people in their walks with God. This support comes from the opportunities to post prayer requests and interacting with others through blogging. However, the social support is completely constrained to the Internet. The website offers no suggestions for participating in offline interactions, mainly due to the fact that they do not have a local community to house gatherings or organize charity events- they are solely online. They do offer links to various twitter pages or cartoon churches.  The question asked is, how does online community support offline involvement? Or does online religion hinder offline activity?  From this, one would say that this particular case study of the i-Church, in fact, hinders offline involvement. However, there is a section of the i-Church known as the “core community.” You must be a member to be a part of their community, known as the “Beehive”, and the groups responsibilities are to promote community through pray requests and other electronic and social mediums. Other religious websites, such as Covenant Family’s that I looked at last week, have links that allow their guests to join a “LifeGroup” to then go meet with this group face-to-face and participate in various activities such as service projects or retreats together. This particular online church is helpful in answering the question of whether online religion is a supplement to offline activity by being an example of social relations that don’t encourage progress beyond the computer screen.

The Courtyard that allows you to pray together and partake in worship services!