Friday, November 4, 2011

Research Research Research

For our next paper we are writing in class we have chosen a specific religious community and one aspect of religion in that community to write about. I have spent the last week and a half working on my research question, or thesis for the paper, and with that question in mind, my next task is to find a specific case study that relates to and helps answer my research question. I chose to look at the Jewish tradition and the aspect of authority which has led me to create this research question, or thesis for my paper: “There are many ways in which new media can affect a religious tradition, and this research paper will look at the authority of the Jewish community and how it translates from the offline setting into one of digital media and new technologies.” The case study that I am choosing to research to go along with this question is one of the “kosher phone”. This phone is one that was created through negotiation with the Jewish religious leaders and non-Jewish phone company creators. It was made to allow the use of new technologies yet still be abide by the Jewish Law and be acceptable to the leaders of the community. The leaders and this Law are both sources of authority for this community, so this case study is a good example of how the Jewish tradition is looking to authority in their interactions with new media and technologies.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Community Online

When talking about whether or not community online can really be a true community it is important to understand the definition of community that the certain groups holds. Different definitions of the same word can change the meaning and the idea behind the group. This is especially true with all the debate surrounding the religious online communities that are sprouting up everywhere and whether or not they can be considered true communities. Looking into online communities I came across, an online community of Judaism followers. This group defines community as Jews coming together to “nurture connections” and engage with each other in everyday life through worship, conversation, and social engagement. In their online community, they use the website to meet all their needs. A person has the ability to stream live services that are actually going on or look up archived services to watch some from the past. The rabbi has created a blog that members can follow and where they can ask questions or get advice. They also have forums and chat rooms that are available 24/7 for people to post on and be in contact with each other whenever they would like. This community is linked into twitter, facebook, and YouTube so members have four ways to interact with each other without ever leaving their computer. The goal of this online community is to replace the “brick and mortar congregation” and build the future of Judaism by moving with the contemporary times and the heavy reliance on technology in today’s world. This community is one example of how online community can be a challenge to the local synagogue by targeting the technology driven culture and providing almost all of the services that the local church could provide, but with a much wider reach and the ability to be in contact at all times.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Guest Speaker

This past Thursday in class we got the privilege of hearing from some religion and media scholars about the research that they are currently doing. One of the speaker that I got to hear from was Nabil Echchaibi and he spoke on framing religious identity through the internet. His main religious identity he spoke of was that of the Muslim world. He started off by talking about how the media was a big platform, or prime stage, for defining Islam and that it is becoming a more complex definition. For most people Islam is regarded as a backwards religion that shies away from the modern, but Echchaibi is looking at modernity as something to engage with, not fight. He does however agree that there is a complex relationship between the Muslim world and modernity. He states that the internet can become an example of modern social imaginary, which is simply a way to bring many Muslims together to act simultaneously. It is not easy to answer the question “are you Muslim?” because of just how complex the Muslim reality has become and all the options that you know have inside that one word. The media has become a source of reference point to draw from. Echchaibi is arguing that Muslims are trying to challenge that past and understand and localize modernity. He mentioned a doll that has come out that is the “fulla doll” in place of a Barbie doll for Muslim little girls. This is an example of how the toy industry has been modernized in a way not harmful to the Muslim identity. He used another case study on the website altmuslim. What was once a political forum where Muslim columnists in the west came together to talk about how life was for a Muslim in the west became more and more religious over time. Echchaibi was making the argument that it is possible to bring modernity into the religious identity of Muslim but still “navigate the world of consumption in a disciplined way”.

Monday, October 3, 2011


This is my first foray into the blogging world! Over these next few weeks I will be blogging weekly about the ways in which different cultures view authority in their everyday traditions and rituals.