Where to start studying online religion?
Fortunately for me Heidi Campbell compiled a shortlist of top 10 reads on the topic. She wrote the list August 2008 and modified it November of that year. (Isn't the history feature of wikis great?) That's recent enough for me, although I wonder whether there is something more recent out there that would make the top ten. The list includes six books, two essays, an issue of a journal and a report of survey. I will start my studies with these last two as that's what I have access to. The 28 pages long report is of PEW's 2004 survey on “Faith Online” and is freely available for anybody. The journal is the December 2007 issue of "Studies in World Christianity" and has an editorial, six essays and six book reviews. The journal is published by the Edinburgh University Press and the whole issue is available after a free registration. One of the essays of the top ten is the first academic article on the topic: Stephen O'Leary's "Cyberspace as Sacred Space: Communicating Religion on Computer Networks". It was published in the “Journal of the American Academy of Religion” in 1996, so I am hoping to gain access to it through the local college after its library reopens at the end of the summer. The other essay is Christopher Helland's “Online-religion/religion-online and virtual communitas” It was published in the 8th volume of JAI Press's “Religion and the Social Order” series. Interestingly enough one of the six books on the list is this volume itself. All six books are available on Amazon.com but their (used) price ranges from $8 to $130. When I get some funds I will get them. Meanwhile I will keep them on the top of my wishlist and try go them via ILL (inter-library loan). The local public and college library has none of them. Just for the record here is the (incorrectly, but simply cited) list:
- Jeffery K. Hadden, and Douglas E. Cowan. (2000). Religion on the Internet. Research Prospects and Promises.
- Anne Zukowski and Pierre Babin. (2002). The Gospel in Cyberspace: Nurturing Faith in the Internet Age
- Dale F. Eickleman & Joh W. Anderson,(eds). (2003). New Media in the Muslim World. The Emerging Public Sphere.
- Lorne Dawson and Douglas Cowan, Eds., (2004). Religion Online: Finding Faith on the Internet.
- Morten Hojsgaard and Margrit Warburg. (2005). Religion and Cyberspace.
- Heidi Campbell. (2005). Exploring Religious Community Online.