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Videos circulate about the ways friends gather and spend more time on their smartphones than in conversation. Parents grow concerned about the time their children are spending on computers, tablets, and cellphones. Churches are having to ask parishioners to turn off their phones before services begin.

We increasingly find ourselves immersed in, and surrounded by, digital networks and technologies. New technologies impact virtually every facet of human life; they are reshaping our basic notions of who we are and how we relate to others. How are religious groups responding to the challenges of the digital era? How can attention and community be sustained amid constant distraction and rising narcissism? How is technology changing contemporary spirituality?

The Patheos Public Square is produced in partnership with Christianity Today and the Progressive Christian Initiative.

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Featured Panelists

The Internet Is Not Killing Religion

The Internet Is Not Killing Religion

James McGrath: Professor, Progressive Christian blogger, "Exploring Our Matrix"

Unless traditional congregations can connect to where and how spirituality is thriving, they may become obsolete during this cultural and technological shift.

Is the Internet Killing Religion?

Is the Internet Killing Religion?

Adam Lee: Atheist blogger, "Daylight Atheism"

I expect that technology will, in time, push religion to retreat from disprovable empirical claims and evolve into less dogmatic, less doctrinally rigid, more fideistic forms.

The War on Traditional Notions of Narrative, Order, and Beauty Has Failed

The War on Traditional Notions of Narrative, Order, and Beauty Has Failed

Frank Schaeffer: Progressive Christian blogger, "Why I Still Talk to Jesus In Spite of Everything"

A new generation is embracing human connection rather than debunking it. The liberating results are real. The geeks are killing off the jaded cold-hearted gatekeepers.

Wider Discussions and New, More Personal Networks

Wider Discussions and New, More Personal Networks

Heather O'Brien: Pagan columnist, "Heathen Woman"

Modern technology largely supports public awareness, an open spiritual medium, and religious tolerance rather than inhibiting them.

Multimedia Mysticism: How the Digital Age has Affected Modern Paganism

Multimedia Mysticism: How the Digital Age has Affected Modern Paganism

Alyxander Folmer: Pagan blogger, "Wyrd Words"

For better or worse, most parts of our community have fully integrated online resources. We can communicate and mobilize nearly instantly, and have a community that often promotes self-reliance and critical thinking.

Networking My Thoughts

Networking My Thoughts

Nimue Brown: Pagan blogger, "Pagan Leadership"

There are many things I find social networking useful for, but spirituality isn't one of them. I think it's better to leave the technology at home, or switch it off and carry it for emergency use when doing anything spiritual.

Religion, Ritual, and the Body

Religion, Ritual, and the Body

Connor Wood: Blogger, "Science on Religion"

Tangled in words, we're rapidly forgetting how to understand ritual. As long as technology supersedes embodied life, this feedback cycle will probably continue.

Is Paganism a Technology Based Religion?

Is Paganism a Technology Based Religion?

Star Foster

I am very aware my faith was born not merely by moonlight, but by the soft glow of a computer monitor.

Technology, Interrupted

Technology, Interrupted

James E. Faulconer: Professor, Mormon columnist, "Speaking Silence"

Amidst the relentless chain of production, grace infuses beauty, truth, and goodness, all of which are good for nothing and thereby free us to be the children of God.

Ten Thoughts on the Convergence of Technology and the Church

Ten Thoughts on the Convergence of Technology and the Church

Bruce Reyes-Chow: Presbyterian pastor, Progressive Christian blogger

Let me offer a few things I have learned about the joys, dangers, and pitfalls of technology and congregational life.

I Love Technology; I Hate Technology

I Love Technology; I Hate Technology

Christian Piatt: Progressive Christian blogger, "Father, Son, and Holy Heretic"

The efficiency that a new technology affords only works as long as the majority of people you come into contact with are using the same technology.

Finding Spiritual Life in a Technological World

Finding Spiritual Life in a Technological World

Timothy Dalrymple: Evangelical blogger, "Philosophical Fragments"

Those who work in industry and technology should know not only that they engage in the holy work of redeeming creation but that their work is evidence of the creative power of God.

Technology, Community, and Discernment

Technology, Community, and Discernment

Christopher Smith: Progressive Christian blogger, "Slow Church"

Wendell Berry's views help us to reflect on and make discernments together about our faithfulness in a overwhelmingly technological world.

Technology and Observance: Jews of the Future

Technology and Observance: Jews of the Future

Matthue Roth: Jewish author and editor, MyJewishLearning.com

In terms of spreading information and ideas that are already around, as well as in ways of dealing with future challenges, information organization will play a more significant role.

Buddha's Middle Way on Technology

Buddha's Middle Way on Technology

Justin Whitaker

No piece of technology will be intrinsically good or bad. What will matter is how we use it. It is up to us. This is the Buddha’s message.

Spirituality and Technology: The Case of the Caring Bridge

Spirituality and Technology: The Case of the Caring Bridge

Rev. Donna Schaper: Progressive Christian minister

Technology matters. Spirituality matters. One is an end: to be spirited. The others are a means: to transmit and transport spirit to the gates.

Ten Ways Congregations Can Engage with Social Media

Ten Ways Congregations Can Engage with Social Media

Rev. Jacqueline Lewis: Progressive Christian minister

The digital era is the transcendence of the physical, taking us beyond our flesh and blood, spreading internet memes, and awakening a global consciousness of the healing power of the human family.

Commentary From Our Blogging Community

Techno-Voodoo 2.0 : Technology Changes Religion

Techno-Voodoo 2.0 : Technology Changes Religion

Lilith Dorsey

Technology like magick expands exponentially everyday with each new participant, each new effort. The divine marriage of the two was inevitable. Voodoo has always done it's best to beg, borrow, and build upon useful practices wherever they may be found.

Balancing technology with faith and religion

Balancing technology with faith and religion

Paul Jesep

“Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient,” Bill Gates said. “There’s a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning.” The remark may explain, in part, the decline of traditional worship, especially among Christians. At the same time, it encourages a larger discussion about one’s sense of [Read More...]

Greater Good Technology — Making a True Difference

Greater Good Technology — Making a True Difference

Lisa M. Hendey

I love all of the terrific Catholic microfunding campaigns going on — when we pool our small contributions together, the projects we help to fund have the potential to make lasting change in our world. Such is the case for Greater Good Technology, a campaign being spearheaded by our “Sweet Tweets” editor John Clem. I [Read More...]

Technology: the Key to Reaching Millennials

Technology: the Key to Reaching Millennials

Lynn Swayze Wilson

I will be 28 years old this year. I am a millennial. Like most millennials, I have a smart phone. I also have a desktop and a netbook. I have a laptop my work has provisioned, too. I am never far from the technology that wires my life: internet for Facebook, Twitter, finding writing clients, [Read More...]

Virtually Christian: Finding Atonement on the Internet

Virtually Christian: Finding Atonement on the Internet

Adam Ericksen

How is technology changing contemporary spirituality? That’s the question Patheos asked in its recent Public Square conversation. The irony that modern technology is allowing us to have the conversation over the Internet should be apparent to everyone. There is no doubt that technology is changing our spirituality. Humans are able to learn about different cultural, [Read More...]

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