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Give Me That Online Religion 1st Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0787945794
ISBN-10: 078794579X
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

How is cyberspace transforming American religion? Brasher, an independent religion scholar, believes that the Web's new transcendence spells nothing short of a bona fide Reformation for religious traditions. Just as the printing press made possible the Lutheran Reformation, the explosion of cyberspace "brings with it a tidal wave of new spirituality that may sweep us all up in its path." Brasher is a bit vague about the details of this sea change, believing that specific prognostications about the future of online religion are unwise since the technology itself changes so rapidly. She offers a few tantalizing tidbits based on a sampling of the more than one million faith-related Web sites that now exist. How about a Cyber-Seder? Or "repentance" Web pages where confessing Christians list their sins and then, with the click of a mouse, see them erased? Brasher expresses an informed ambivalence about the future of online religion, noting some of its positive points (e.g., the ability to enjoy the sacred anytime and from anywhere, and the increased potential for religious diversity) while elucidating its potential dark side. She asks whether disembodied cyberspace is genuinely capable of promoting religious community. Complementing the thoughtful text is a dramatic, Web-inspired layout that features graphics, curved pull-out quotes and hip background designs. While Brasher's book is sometimes tentative, it bravely tackles a momentous new topic, and will be consulted by the many scholars who follow her cookie trail. (Mar.)
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The revolution wrought by Martin Luther within Christianity coincided with the spread of the revolutionary printing press with moveable type. Brasher (co-chair of New Religions Movement Group of the American Academy of Religion; Godly Women: Fundamentalism and Female Power) here considers how the Internet's current revolutionary impact on communications might affect spirituality. She addresses the net's influence on concepts of time, religious communities ("Cyberseekers"), ideas of good and evil ("Cyber-Virtue and Cyber-Vice"), and more. Drawing examples from the web, the author not only shows how people use it for religious purposes but predicts what she believes will happen to religion as a result. Might there be greater religious tolerance as the web spreads information? What is the significance, for example, of being able to attend a cyber-seder? The book is interesting, challenging, timely, and sure to generate discussion. Highly recommended. John Moryl, Yeshiva Univ. Lib., New York
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (February 6, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 078794579X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787945794
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 0.8 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,801,521 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Gershom Gorenberg on March 21, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Brenda Brasher's "Give Me That Online Religion" is a must-read book, a superbly written, insight-packed exploration of what happens when ancient faith fuses with tomorrow's technology. One of our most adept guides to modern religion, Brasher provides the first serious look at how the Internet is transforming spirituality -- and gazes into the always-intriguing, sometimes-frightening future of global religion in the brave new era of cyberspace.
-- Gershom Gorenberg, senior editor and columnist, The Jerusalem Report
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Format: Hardcover
I agree with almost all of what Dr. Brasher has to say about the potential of online religion. That being said, however, this book (which makes at least some attempt at being academic, with footnotes and a chapter contextualizing technology and religion historically) fails to delve very deeply into specifics. Unsupported generalizations are rife, and anecdotes (accounts of individuals' experiences with religion on the Internet) are related without any evidence to suggest how widespread these kinds of experiences are. Overall, the book fails to look at enough specific Internet resources in enough detail to justify Brasher's sweeping claims for the future importance of online religion. Her speculation on the character and potential cultural effects of online religion are certainly interesting, but they make up the bulk of the work. As a result, _Give Me That Online Religion_ is an interesting personal vision, but a very weak piece of scholarship.
I originally faulted this book for lacking any reference to major Internet religion hubs such as Beliefnet, but Dr. Brasher has since informed me that the book went to press before Beliefnet came online. I still think, however, that a print directory of religion-related websites with brief descriptions would have been an excellent addition to the book. Even though the directory would have been outdated after a year, such a listing would have provided specific information about the context in which Brasher was writing and given her argument additional weight. Brasher does, however, provide a directory on her website, which is listed in the back of the book.
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Format: Hardcover
The author of this book, Brenda Brasher, got her Master of Divinity degree from my seminary prior to getting her doctorate at the University of Southern California. Brasher's earlier book, `Godly Women: Fundamentalism and Female Power', showed that she likes to push the envelope and go into subjects that are not without controversy. `Give Me That Online Religion' is another book like this - the whole idea of culture and society on the internet is riddled with controversial aspects. Far from being simply a new technology or a new and faster method of communication, the internet is transforming the very idea of communication in ways not thought of by even the most prophetic of observers and science fiction imaginations.
Brasher sees the realm of cyberspace as being the ultimate diaspora (she entitles one of her early chapters with this phrase) - people need no longer rely on physical proximity or geographic groupings for their associations; like the Jews of old, the community can be far flung and multicultural while maintaining certain key ties - one primary difference now being that the people involved in these virtual communities may never actually meet another person of their religious persuasion.
The ideas of authenticity (of communication, of individual truthfulness, and of actual spirituality) come to the forefront of much of Brasher's discussion, as questions about the validity of persons online and the reality of experiences that exist primarily or solely in virtual space are exposed. At what point does the virtue become a vice?
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Format: Hardcover
How will we do religion twenty, a hundred years from now? Will buildings still be important? Or, perhaps, will there be e-religion that people practice at home, just as they e-shop rather than going to the mall? According to Brenda E. Brasher, we already have e-religion, as shown in her book _Give Me That Online Religion_ (Jossey-Bass). A funny, imaginative work, it is also a serious look at how online religion has gotten its start in what humans will surely look back on as the most primitive days of the internet. Brasher teaches religion and philosophy, and for more than a decade has been taking a look at various religious websites. She has had her work cut out for her; there are more than a million sites of diverse religious affiliation, drawing believers as well as those simply curious. Perhaps this is just the internet way of distributing tracts, but Dr. Brasher says no: "online religion is the most portentous development for the future of religion to come out of the twentieth century" and "could become the dominant form of religious experience in the next century."
Those familiar with basic traditional religions will find that they have moved onto the Web without much change; perhaps the literal Bible, apocalyptic ones are over-represented, just as they are on TV. There are others in this book that any reader will find strange. Some sites are direct offshoots of IRL (In Real Life) religious practice, like online prayer chains and chat rooms where people can go for a more-or-less directed Sunday school. The site of EvilPeople, Inc., invites people to click on a button in order to sell their souls. (A soul was recently put up for sale on e-Bay.) There are memorials to many dead people; there are 8,000 Brasher has counted devoted to Princess Diana alone.
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