I love me some Drew Jacob, and you should totally check out his new column on Patheos, but his blog post today leaves me puzzled. He’s talking about expostmodern religion and what it takes to survive as a spiritual community today.
- Sermons or other routine scheduled meetings will not be effective. Less people will want to commit to a physical meeting on a regular basis. Religious activities will need to be available through other media. Religions that make their services inclusive of digital participation will see a surge of new recruits while those who don’t will lose ground.
- Members will expect more face time with the priest/pastor and expect personal contact. Clergy will be on social media and make themselves available for personal discussion (in person or by Skype). Those who don’t will fail.
- The presentation of multiple voices and viewpoints will be valued. Clergy will be more successful if they ensure access to other teachers and leaders in their tradition (or from other religions). This can be done with guest blog posts and podcasts rather than with in-person visits.
- Narratives that focus on self-empowerment, personal transformation, and experimentation will inspire people and speak directly to their concerns. Support structures for members who move or travel (maintaining an ongoing relationship with them while they are away) will become a valuable cornerstone of any effective religious organization.
So some of this resonates with me. Personal transformation and multiple viewpoints I get, and you should always expect to have face time with your clergy. But digital participation/events over regular meetings? I take issue with that.
My coven meets for Esbats, Sabbats, classes, work parties, shopping outings and sometimes just to hang out. We have several events a month and I think it actually strengthens our coven. That said, not everyone can make every event and we don’t have a full house on every full moon, but then, we don’t mandate that or give folks guilt trips over it. I think that’s a big difference.
People don’t like to commit to regular meetings because they feel guilty if they miss something because people make them feel guilty. Being genuinely happy to see folks without pressuring them to attend makes a big difference.
I don’t want to be part of a cyber-coven, or a loose digital confederacy. Blogging isn’t the same as religion to me. I don’t see it as an acceptable substitute for active, real-life participation and fellowship. But that’s just me. What do y’all think?