Friday, October 7, 2011
I attended the "Approaching Rituals Online" seminar presented by Christopher Helland at the Digital Religion Symposium. Although this blog is centered around digital identity, digital religion is an aspect included in someone's digital religion. For example, on Facebook many people choose to include their religious affiliation on their profiles. Professor Helland explained that his topic is relevant because levels with online interactions have increased. It is because of this digital revolution that many people do not make distinctions between "online" and "offline". This digital media has assimilated into our life. This assimilation has gone so far as to include religion. Religion is making it's way into our social media. As Pressor Helland argued, sometimes the computer can be seen as sacred space or a portal to connect us with sacred information. Professor Helland's argument centered on the fact that a person's definition of what a ritual is dictates how they interact with rituals online. For example, if one thinks a ritual to be sacred, while attending a service on Second Life, they would take it seriously as if they are physically present in the service. The operators of the site must place the highest importance on the ritual ensuring that there are no distractions or people being disrespectful in order to keep the integrity of the ritual. Keeping the ritual sacred is the main obstacle for online religious rituals. As far as Judaism goes, the acceptance of online rituals would depend on the classification. An Orthodox Jew for example would not embrace the online ritual practice, since the Sabbath is essential to the foundation. Keeping the Sabbath sacred is the main principle, and refraining from any type of creative activity, especially technology is a rule that would not be compromised.