God 2.0

The internet is aflame. Orthodox Jews and fundamentalist Christians, wiccans and pagans, everyone is talking about God. So how has our notion of God changed since people started searching for Him online? And how has the Internet changed since He moved there?

Jeff Sharlet

co-founder, Killing the Buddha, and editor, The Revealer

Gordon Atkinson

Real Live Preacher

Pastor, Covenant Baptist Church

From David’s pre-interview notes

This is a huge topic — a Pew Internet and American Life Project report last year found that 64% of the 128 million wired Americans have “done things online that relate to religious or spiritual matters” — and we’re turning to Jeff to help us navigate the waters. He’s one of the wisest and most bracing voices on contemporary American religion that I know. He’s also funny, which never hurts when you’re talking about God.

Jeff talked about the reconfiguration of religious space, about reading your favorite Catholic blogs at work and sacralizing, even inadvertently, your workplace. He also argued that something interesting is happening with religious authority: that, like with Wikipedia, the whole notion of authority is more diluted, and complicated. But he’s not entirely convinced by the democratizing influence of the web. He sees a greater concentration of religiously conservative voices online than off… and he’s not exactly sure why.

Gordon, or RealLivePreacher, is one of the most widely read and widely respected writers about religion online. He’s going to talk to us about the differences between his church ministering and his online… writing. (He doesn’t quite feel comfortable calling blogging “ministering,” although many of his frequent readers might disagree.) He noted that writing the blog has changed his Sunday sermons in small but perceptible ways; he’s braver now, and takes more risks. And he told me that he wouldn’t mind if none of his blog readers were Christian; he loves the growing relationships — friendships, in many cases — that RealLivePreacher has helped him foster with agnostics, Jews, mystics, and searchers of all stripes. Are you one of them? Do you read RealLivePreacher? What do you get from it?

And as for the rest of you: we want — we need! — to hear from you. Do you go online as part of your religious practice? What has it taught you? What have you gained? What have you lost? Who else should we be talking to?

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