If iPhone applications are becoming extensions of ourselves, augmenting our capabilities in ways both trivial and profound, then I suppose it should come as no surprise that there are now apps for atheism as well as for those who want a quick comeback at their fingertips about why God is real.

Paul Vitello highlights several such apps in You Say God is Dead?  There’s an App for That. My favorite quote:

For religious skeptics, the “BibleThumper” iPhone app boasts that it “allows the atheist to keep the most funny and irrational Bible verses right in their pocket” to be “always ready to confront fundamentalist Christians or have a little fun among friends.”

Similarly, those who wish to ardently defend the existence of God might opt for an equally pithy app by LifeWay Christian Resources, including “responses to 25 common challenges to the Christian Faith”.  (Wonder if v.4.1.2 will include any acknowledgment of arguments for the existence of God from Muslim or Jewish perspectives?)

In some ways, I really like the tongue-in-cheek feeling to these apps.  I like the challenge to any system of belief to create a killer app that can encapsulate all the essential stuff…but then again, we’ve seen where that’s gotten us in the past. 😉

All of this leaves me wondering: In the next decade, will we choose to “augment” ourselves in ways that strengthen our abilities to listen deeply, or that underscore the bad habit we humans have historically had of engaging with those with whom we disagree in polarizing ways?

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Thanks to my colleague, Jason Tester for sending this article my way awhile back.

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According to this article, U.S. Protestants are more loyal to their favorite brands of retail products than they are to a particular denomination.

Transferable Lesson:  Healthy, Beautiful Spirituality for Life?

While this article and its study aren’t strikingly convincing, there are groups out there that are seriously studying staying power of denominational brands.  For example, see “Brand Name Identity in a Post-Denominational Age” which links perceptions of denominational identity with the sense of overall vitality of a particular group.

While not wanting to minimize the content of the religious message these brands convey, one can’t help but wonder what lessons religious groups can draw about branding from the business world.

One of the most persuasive branding campaigns I’ve seen was done by the United Church of Christ–the campaign is called God is Still Speaking and it communicates with great clarity:

God is Still Speaking

So, too, is the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America rebranding through a new tag line, “God’s work, our hands.”  The Episcopal Church is harnassing the power of increasing literacy of video to invite people to upload their own stories about being part of that denomination at iamepiscopalian.org:

By 2020, how will religious brands have evolved?

Today at 2pm pacific US, internet-connected Second Lifers could take part in a Maundy Thursday service with others from around the world on a virtual island called Epiphany Island.  Here is the vision of the community:

Our aim is to: be church for you where ever you are what ever your circumstances.

Our vision is to see God glorified in Second Life.

To see Christians from different countries and theological persuasions come together to serve and worship the Lord.

To see the Anglican Church engage in relevant, meaningful and contemporary ways with the society around it.

To offer those involved in Second Life an experience of a God who deeply loves them and seeks a relationship with them.

To be a community who are known for their love and care, and their preparedness to serve others.

Imagine experiencing religious rites with others by viewing & communicating with their avatars…How does community feel different when experienced in this way?  How might it change a religious practioner ‘s understanding of the divine?  How is it liberating to those who shy away from conventionally religious spaces?  How much will online spiritual experiences grow in the next decade?