Attack of the God Blogs
Lately I’ve been waking up with these terrible cold sweats. Reptilian reflexes bounce me out of bed and to my laptop across the room, where my fingers pull up a familiar spreadsheet. I’ve forgotten a blog! How could I leave that one out? Now I’ve got to spend half the morning revising the whole thing to account for it…
Months in the making, it is finally finished: the Social Science Research Council’s report, “The New Landscape of the Religion Blogosphere,” of which I was the lead author. It’s a somewhat cumbersome overview of blogging, academic blogging, blogs about religion, and our blogging future.
Our own Jeff Sharlet serves as an expert commentator:
Jeff Sharlet, together with Peter Manseau, started Killing the Buddha in 2000 out of “contempt—to be honest—contempt for a press (and, for the most part, academe) that looks on religion as if it’s either innocuous spirituality or dangerous fanaticism, when most often it contains elements of both and a lot else besides.”
Part of the process (and hence the cold sweats) was assembling a list of nearly 100 blogs upon which the report is based. Oh, goodness, I wanted so much for everyone to feel included! We’ve already been receiving complaints from deserving bloggers who were overlooked. All you bloggers out there: we come in peace.
The purpose at hand is to foster a more self-reflective, collaborative, and mutually-aware religion blogosphere. Ideally, this report will spark discussion among religion bloggers that will take their work further, while also inviting new voices from outside existing networks to join in and take part.
At The Immanent Frame today, ten (all male, unfortunately) religion writers, scholars, and bloggers discuss the report and their experiences with religion in the dirt devil of (can we still call it that?) “new media.” My favorite bit of it comes from Frederick Clarkson of Talk to Action:
First, I invite everyone to consider the possibility that blogs may be one of the greatest gifts to writing and to writers in the history of the world.
This semester, … I was asked to oversee an independent study in post-modern theology, something I hadn’t really thought about since graduate school, which happens to be when the first book on our syllabus, Mark Taylor’s About Religion: Economies of Faith in a Virtual Culture (1999), was a brand new book and the term “blog” was only just starting to stick. It was a time when academics could say things like “cyberspace is a sci-fi projection of what our near future holds.” This was a time before we could make fun of people who spoke of “the Internets.” Indeed, many of us were just getting familiar with the plain old singular Internet (or as is commonplace today, “internet”).
Nathan Schneider is an editor of Killing the Buddha and writes about religion, reason, and violence for a variety of publications. He is also a founding editor of Waging Nonviolence. His first two books, published by University of California Press in 2013, are God in Proof: The Story of a Search from the Ancients to the Internet and Thank You, Anarchy: Notes from the Occupy Apocalypse. Visit his website at The Row Boat.