I dagarna har det kommit en bok som tar upp relationen mellan media och religion och religionsutbildning – som ”faktisk” bok på tyska och snart även som e-bok på engelska – med titeln ”Religionspädagogik in einer mediatisierten Welt/Religious Education in a Mediatized World”. Mitt kapitel är betitlat ”Religion, Pädagogik und soziale Medien/Religion, pedagogy, and social media”.
Some claim we are facing a new age, with significant social changes in the wake of digital information and communication technology. It is talked about as a paradigmatic shift – which affects the very foundation of our society affecting how we as individuals as well as collectives relate to it and to each other, how the economy function, how global politics works, and also people’s faith and religious practices, and the role of religion and its manifestations too.
At times, and in some cultures, religion is an integrated part of everyday life and popular culture. In other contexts, religious faith and practices dwindle or are made invisible, or separated, formulating its own sphere, distinct from the mundane. Even though Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (Joh 14:6), His rather straightforward message has been lived and implemented in many different and changing ways. Political power, technical innovation, economic structure, social movements, etcetera, apparently transform.
In order to understand the role of religion in contemporary society we have to take different forms of media and mediated religion into account – today and throughout history. Scholars such as Stig Hjarvard claims we live in what is called a “mediatized” society, thereby meaning we live in a society with an autonomous media sphere, in which anyone who wants to reach out to the public has to go through, and thereby transform the message according the logics of media. This fact changes and challenges the power of traditional religious institutions. Similar predictions are made about digital media and the internet – that the internet opens up for new voices and actors to be heard and thereby undermines established structures and foundations.
This has an impact on religious faith and practices as well, acknowledged within the emerging field of what is called digital religion. Studying the role of media in relation to religious transformations is necessary in order to get the broader picture. This chapter aims at showing the relevance for such a media-oriented perspective, with a special focus on the internet and digital tools and channels for communication.