Technology and Spirituality
Wider Discussions and New, More Personal, Networks
Editors' Note: This article is part of a Public Square conversation on Technology and Spirituality. Read other perspectives here.
In today's busy world and modern society where nearly everyone is plugged in to an electronic device, modern technology has made it possible for persons of all faiths to join each other in fellowship and networking to celebrate their individual paths as well as learn about the traditions of others. On social media sites such as Facebook and Google+, we can be quickly transported to a host of pages and articles that provide faith-based insight, education, and support, which all help build personal connections with others. This can be a wonderful way of bringing people together and removes geographical barriers that have hindered social networking in the past.
With any sort of social platform that involves the general public, there can be varying degrees of egos and particular subjects of contention that can cause disputes among others, but modern technology largely supports public awareness, an open spiritual medium, and religious tolerance rather than inhibiting them. Religion and spirituality can be a sensitive topic for many people. However, with author moderation and mindfulness, and by continuously publishing new and relevant information, the public now has the option of making modern technology a positive tool. Technology helps users access information about faith and encourages others of like minds to form more personal spiritual connections that can be practically applied to their individual lives and social circles. "Rubbing shoulders" via social media with others of similar, or even different, spiritual paths can also lead to innovative ideas being developed in religious platforms that provide the public with quick and accurate resources that may not readily be available offline. When others come together over such a personal topic it can reflect a real community experience that can lead to a deeper understanding and frame of personal reference.
A downside to modern technology in the religious arena is that those who use the service must discern carefully whether what they are accessing is in line with their own values and faith-based ethics. However, since many other outlets (such as news programs and television broadcasts) use the same types of methods, the general public is accustomed to doing this anyway. With so many people logging on to the Internet each day, or accessing applications from their smartphones, it seems reasonable that incorporating technology into faith offers a service to the general public that is appreciated and of great value.
Modern technology has absolutely made a difference in the way in which we communicate with one another, and the amount of information readily available. Now, more than ever, we are able to start broad discussions on a global scale over the topics that are most dear to us; this certainly includes our faith. In the future, there lies the possibility that others will continue to come together and continue learning both on a wide discussion forum and by establishing new, more personal, networks with one another.
Heather O'Brien is the Directing Founder of Women of Asatru and maintains a bi-weekly column on Patheos entitled Heathen Woman. She speaks publicly on heathen-related topics of spirituality, Norse mythology, and the Northern traditions.