Cover image for Give me that online religion
Title:
Give me that online religion
Author:
Brasher, Brenda E., 1952-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
San Francisco : Jossey-Bass, [2001]

©2001
Physical Description:
xii, 203 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780787945794
Format :
Book

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Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library BL37 .B73 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

The future of online religion is now!

Operating online allows long-established religious communities to reach the unaffiliated like never before. More startling is the ease by which anyone with internet access can create new circles of faith. Electronic shrines and kitschy personal Web "altars" express adoration for living celebrities, just as they honor the memory of long-departed martyrs. In Give Me That Online Religion , online religion expert Brenda Brasher braves a new world in which cyber concepts and technologies challenge conventional ideas about the human condition--all the while attempting to realize age-old religious ideals of transcendence and eternal life.

As the Internet continues its rapid absorption of culture, Give Me That Online Religion offers pause for thought about spirituality in the cyber-age. Religion's move to the online world does not mean technology's triumph over faith. Rather, Brasher argues, it assures religion's place in the wired universe, along with commerce and communications--meeting the spiritual demands of Internet generations to come.


Author Notes

Brenda E. Brasher is a lecturer in the Department of Sociology at King's College, University of Aberdeen. She frequently serves as a religious consultant to the media, and for more than a decade has documented and analyzed Internet and Web activities of traditional and alternative religious groups.


Reviews 4

Booklist Review

The dot-com bubble has burst, and the promise that the Internet would make the reference librarian irrelevant has proved false (whew!). But one thing no one expected from the World Wide Web was that it would change the way people express religion. What could the Web, freewheeling domain of young hipsters, have in common with religion, realm of the ancient ethics? Brasher demonstrates that religion is alive and well on the Web, not only on information sites but also in online religious practice, whether through getting married online or participating in a religious cyber commune. Nonacademic readers may find some chapters, especially the one on "cyberspace as sacred time," difficult to grasp without a background in religious studies, but the book is mostly well aimed at a cyber-savvy general readership. Examining even online Lady Di shrines and the Heaven's Gate suicides, Brasher shows that online religion is attempting to simultaneously subvert and embrace religious tradition and is also bringing the temple to the money lenders. --John Green


Publisher's Weekly Review

How is cyberspace transforming American religion? Brasher, an independent religion scholar, believes that the Web's new transcendence spells nothing short of a bona fide Reformation for religious traditions. Just as the printing press made possible the Lutheran Reformation, the explosion of cyberspace "brings with it a tidal wave of new spirituality that may sweep us all up in its path." Brasher is a bit vague about the details of this sea change, believing that specific prognostications about the future of online religion are unwise since the technology itself changes so rapidly. She offers a few tantalizing tidbits based on a sampling of the more than one million faith-related Web sites that now exist. How about a Cyber-Seder? Or "repentance" Web pages where confessing Christians list their sins and then, with the click of a mouse, see them erased? Brasher expresses an informed ambivalence about the future of online religion, noting some of its positive points (e.g., the ability to enjoy the sacred anytime and from anywhere, and the increased potential for religious diversity) while elucidating its potential dark side. She asks whether disembodied cyberspace is genuinely capable of promoting religious community. Complementing the thoughtful text is a dramatic, Web-inspired layout that features graphics, curved pull-out quotes and hip background designs. While Brasher's book is sometimes tentative, it bravely tackles a momentous new topic, and will be consulted by the many scholars who follow her cookie trail. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

The revolution wrought by Martin Luther within Christianity coincided with the spread of the revolutionary printing press with moveable type. Brasher (co-chair of New Religions Movement Group of the American Academy of Religion; Godly Women: Fundamentalism and Female Power) here considers how the Internet's current revolutionary impact on communications might affect spirituality. She addresses the net's influence on concepts of time, religious communities ("Cyberseekers"), ideas of good and evil ("Cyber-Virtue and Cyber-Vice"), and more. Drawing examples from the web, the author not only shows how people use it for religious purposes but predicts what she believes will happen to religion as a result. Might there be greater religious tolerance as the web spreads information? What is the significance, for example, of being able to attend a cyber-seder? The book is interesting, challenging, timely, and sure to generate discussion. Highly recommended. John Moryl, Yeshiva Univ. Lib., New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice Review

Brasher (Mount Union College, OH, and author of Godly Women: Fundamentalism and Female Power, CH, May'98) takes readers on an intellectually stimulating tour of online religion with attention to traditional religions, new religious movements, and pop-culture religiosity. Not limiting her scope to the explicitly religious, she includes reflections on the religious dimensions of cyberculture illustrated by celebrity sites, virtual utopians and anarchists, and cyborg theories. Noting the religious impact of previous revolutions in information technology (i.e., the printing press and Protestantism) Brasher considers how traditional understandings of sacred time and space, pilgrimage and conversion, religious anthropology, and ethics are transformed by computer-mediated religious experience. Though she warns against the potential dangers of cyber-enhanced apocalyptic movements and notes other problems and obstacles posed by the virtualization of religion, Brasher is generally positive in her assessments. She celebrates the diversity, vitality, and creativity of online religion and, in light of the increasing commercialization of the Internet, voices a plea for the preservation of virtual sacred space for free religious expression. This well-written and attractively designed book is highly recommended for all readers. J. Gresham Fontbonne College


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