so a friend of mine was recently invited to spread a christian message through the "first church of twitter."
i have no idea how many people received this rather unconventional worship but certainly there were some who shared their concerns during the open prayers section, as is apparent from the blog link.
conveniently, this has happened just as i've spent the last 2 weeks reading essays on the nature of identity and community formation in online religion for my majors' seminar at manhattan college.
there's quite a debate over whether or not online communities are "real" communities and what, precisely, is necessary in order to define them so (steady membership, identity consistency, public forums, interactivity, etc.). some authors have, as yet, denied that online communities can be real and several of my students have voiced concern about whether or not the flexibility of identity online diminishes our ability to connect to one another and others are concerned that the elimination of physical contact does likewise. one person at a lecture i gave this past fall insisted that everyone involved in these kinds of communities is psychologically unbalanced, a position that i found patently silly.
for some folks, online religion provides communities that they simply cannot better in conventional religious practice. it seems to me that, yes, some folks online are unbalanced, but that many others are simply ordinary people who find that online religion meets profound human needs. for these folks, religious communities must be possible online...their claims and their actions repeat this daily.