Performance of Religion

In the past couple of years, some of my classmates and friends from divinity school have begun dealing with some interesting quandries surrounding the question “Where does one DO church?”

For some time now, many have believed that you don’t have to be IN the church, synagogue, temple etc. to perform a religious practice.

From outdoor services or meditation to social justice work, the acts of the faithful have long been performed in locations outside of the conventional four walls.

The latest frontier of this question takes religious leaders to the online frontier–where can one perform the communal acts, the rituals, and the meditations that constitute religious experience?

Upcoming Conference

From July 30-August 9, 2010 scholars will gather at Bremen University to talk about online religion, seemingly from 2 perspectives:

  • how to research online peformance of religion in an ethical manner
  • how the online forum changes the experience of religion from the religious practitioner’s perspective.

Some of the most promising sessions to me are on these areas of religion in virtual worlds:

The mission of this conference is to fill a gap in research around the performance of religion in virtual worlds:

The Web is changing the face of religions worldwide. With the emergence of so-called Virtual Worlds a further step towards a completely new field of research was done, since these environments offer new possiblities to meet, communicate and to perform religion.

The results of conversations like this one will help my divinity school classmates–and others to make sense of this new frontier that has now begun to reach mainstream religious folks across all the world religions.

By 2020, where will we be performing our religious rites?  How will philosophies & theologies respond to this new realm of experience?