In my Pilgrimage class last week we discussed the role technology plays in the religious lives of people today.  We found some interesting examples:

A few questions — If you are religious, what role does technology play in your religious life?  Has technology changed how you worship, interact with followers of the same religion, etc.?  Do you consider some of these technological alternatives to be the equivalent to the actual practice?  In other words, is technology a sufficient substitute for the real thing?  Is it legitimate?  For example, can you attend mass or a church service by watching it on TV?  Can you e-mail a confession?  Can you take a pilgrimage to a holy shrine without ever leaving your living room?

In David Chidester’s book, Authentic Fakes, he has a chapter called “Virtual Religions.”  In that chapter he discusses new religious movements that have sprung up entirely on the internet.  Many people now attend services, perform rituals, and discuss their beliefs entirely on the internet.  Some of these people may never meet another person who practices their religion, yet they interact with them, via the internet, on a daily or weekly basis.  Are these “real” religions?  How is the notion of a religious community re-imagined through the internet?  This last question has intrigued me for some time.  I see community as a vital element in religion.  In my own work I look at people, in groups, doing stuff; interacting with their world.  What happens when those other people live in your computer?  And what if the world you interact with is filtered through a computer monitor?

On a semi-related note, I want a robot hand (like Luke Skywalker in Star Wars).