Youth Ministry Educators and “Networked Theology”

I was pleased to see a couple of references to the Networked Theology book in papers to be presented at the Association of Youth Ministry Educators 2017 conference in Dallas later this month.

Angela Gorrell’s paper on integrating theological new media literacy into Christian education and formation – Faith for a Way of Life: Christian Formation and Education in a New Media Culture – used it to assist with describing “new media” and the “social-shaping” of technology.

More significantly, Leslie Long’s (Oklahoma City University) paper – Stained Glass to Screens: How Modern Technology Influences an Ancient Faith – set the book as required reading for undergraduate class examining the theological implications of technology and its impact on religious practice and understanding.

An examination of our habits when using technology helped us explore the instruments we employ and the diverse attitudes students hold about a variety of platforms from Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, to the elements used in many worship settings. Using Campbell and Garner’s categories in Networked Theology to examine technological usage, “optimism, pessimism and ambiguity,” students strived to understand how different people respond to technology. Looking at technological justice pushed the class to deal with issues pertaining to how geographical settings, economic status, age bias, and other barriers to access could limit or eliminate programs and possibilities. Moreover, intense conversations took place around the topic of community. The class talked about what defines a community in general and the traits of specifically religious communities. Students considered the implications of exclusively online communities in contrast to more traditional face-to-face religious gatherings.

Nice to see the book being used in these contexts.

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