Friday, November 11, 2011

Authority Online at

            Online religious authority is a relative term when fully considered. Who is the authority and how is their authority evaluated by the online community? When this matter is fully addressed, it appears that the majority of online authorities, whether religious or not, have become so due to loyal followers (or readers, watchers, fans, etc.)
            In areas of online forums concerning proper actions of Christians, such as, anyone with internet access can create an account and post their views as an answer to people’s questions most often derived from scriptures and social norms. This action of asserting one’s own authority in places such as online forum environments are what Pauling Cheong refers to in her authority chapter as displacement. Cheong goes on to define displacement as “[referring] to the acts of apparent change or movement, including supplanting power and furnishing an equivalent authority in place of another.”
            Concerning online Christian relations, especially Q&A forums similar to those found at Talk Jesus, traditional ideas of authority are undermined since there are no prerequisites to being allowed to take on questions on the Bible. The possibility of double-think theological views are much easier to be presented and must be taken account for in these areas of discussion. Although these possibilities exist and even take form in some traditional church bodies, the risk is significantly increased in online areas.
            At Talk Jesus, one user is consistently found as a top poster by the name of Chad. Chad is the founder of the site and has had no formal education that would place him high in most traditional church positions ( But Chad’s well-written and well-sourced posts have gained him a noticeable following from members on the site, making him, in a basic sense, THE biblical authority of most posts.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Christian Community on the Internet

            My paper seeks to answer the question, how do online interactions through social media sites foster community online within the realm of Christianity? 
            Not much has been written in relations to Christian community found within social media sites. My case study will focus on sites similar to Reddit, Twitter and Facebook; sites that focus on users' posts to generate content. By focusing on these websites I will be able to come closer to answering the question of whether Christian community is fostered on online social media websites.
            When examining it is easy to find posts from non-Christians and Christians alike, posting pictures, videos, and asking questions about their faith, such as the man asking questions here: . Reddittors often pride themselves on being an exclusive Internet community open to all, yet still set apart with a strong identity, as can be seen here: . Since Reddit provides threads to promote focused community, more specifically a Christian thread, it seems that studying Reddit could help in my understanding of Online Christian community.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Religious Identity in Twitter

This week I will be examining the question: does digital media strengthen or weaken individual's ability to construct or perform their religious identity? For reasons I will explain and also from examining the social media site of, it seems that digital media does play a role in strengthening religious identity.
            Twitter is a social media site based on user-produced and consumed media content, usually focused on social commentary (“About”). Twitter allows its users to follow the posts of any users they so choose; many people occupy Twitter (“About”). From celebrities, real and fake, to religious leaders such as the Pope, the Dalai Lama, and Christian pastors from various denominations, Twitter is loaded with opinions on life from every direction (Meadows, 2011). Due to this whirlwind of opines constantly being posted, it seems that it could be easy for users to be influenced by those that they follow (Meadows, 2011).
            Users of Twitter are able to have their religious identities shaped by choosing to follow other users for whatever reasons, which, over time, can change the beliefs of the user (Lövheim & Linderman, 2005). In example, for a Baptist of the Southern Baptist Convention, following reformed pastors such as John Piper or Tim Keller can result in subtle changes to their beliefs if they take the tweets seriously. If the same person were to jokingly follow users such as @weeCalvin, a user who tweets quotes from the Reformation era theologian John Calvin and answers other users’ questions about the beliefs of John Calvin, the user’s religious identity could still be strengthened, just not toward the Calvinistic agenda presented by the Twitter poster.
            In the end, we see that digital media does strengthen an individual’s ability to perform their religious identity since they can be influenced by other users of digital media.

About. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Lövheim, M. and Linderman, A. (2005) ‘Constructing Religious Identity on the Internet’, in Højsgaard, M. & Warburg, M. (eds.), Religion in Cyberspace, 121-137, London; Routledge

Meadows, C. (2011) Personal observations of Twitter. Retreived from http://!/CaseyTM