Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Tweet If You Heart Jesus

A few weeks ago my blog post on the Pope and the digital age was picked up by Religion Dispatches thanks to Dr Elizabeth Drescher. In checking out Elizabeth’s work I was interested to learn that she has written a book called Tweet If You ♥Jesus. The book is published later this year and the blurb describes it in the following terms:
TweetCoverArt From an emerging scholar and writer on contemporary spirituality comes a fascinating exploration of new social media and religion that connects ancient and medieval wisdom to the digitally-integrated practice of faith by believers and seekers today. In Elizabeth Drescher’s Tweet If You ♥Jesus, ministry leaders will learn how changes in everyday communication have begun to reshape how we relate to one another, how we form and sustain communities, and what that means for churches and other religious organizations that hope to enrich and extend their service and become more relevant in the world today.
I was particularly interested in some of the quotes from the book which reflect on the opportunities and challenges afforded the church by social media.
The Church is at a critical juncture as it attempts to respond to dramatic cultural changes related to new mobile, digital social media. Some of those changes are wonderfully liberating, inviting creative involvement in the practice of faith and the nurturing of community by believers and seekers of all stripes around the globe. Others, such as the restructuring of concepts of privacy, self-presentation, and relationship that seem to undermine notions of interpersonal, communal, and spiritual intimacy that are at the heart of much Christian practice, feel more troubling. Threatening, even.
I like the suggestion that a way forward may include drawing on the riches of the Christian tradition, particularly the practices of religious communities in relation to the emerging social networks.
New digital communication practices provide the opportunity to share the riches of ancient and medieval Christian traditions that ground much of mainline religious practice while also opening our churches to the diverse spiritual perspectives of the many believers and seekers who, while they may not wear an Episcopalian or Lutheran or Presbyterian badge on their sleeves, are nonetheless engaged by religious questions as they respond to the challenges of life in the wired world today.
There is also challenge in this book and a timely warning for ministers who want to embrace the possibilities of the new forms of communication and interaction.
If we get annoyed when the Facebook advertising automatons don't know us well enough, imagine how it feels when our priest or pastor keeps posting or tweeting stuff that betrays no understanding of who we are or who we hope to be.
All good thought provoking material and I look forward to reading more when the book is published. I’ll finish with a final quote which has got me thinking and I look forward to engaging with the thesis in more depth.
The counter-intuitive reality is that without digital social media, it would be impossible…for leaders in ministry to so richly witness to the significance of face-to-face relationship and grounded spiritual presence.


paul said...

I shall be looking forward to reading this, too, Phil. Sounds fascinating.

Revsimmy said...

Thanks for the tip-off, Phil. I too shall be looking out for this book when it is published, and to see how it relates (or not) to Shane Hipps' work.