Articles added in November and December 2010
In the last two months I learned of three newly published articles and two new thesis related to the topic of religion online, so I added those to this site's article database.
Mary Lowe wrote an essay for the fall volume of Christian Perspectives in Education titled, "A Summary of the Findings of the Study: Assessing the Impact of Online Courses on the Spiritual Formation of Adult Students." The 19 page long PDF is available is online. The article starts with sort of an abstract:
The purpose of the study was to examine whether or to what extent spiritual formation occurs in online theological education from the perspective of maturing faith. The research instrument used was based on the Faith Maturity Scale (FMS) developed by Benson et al. (1993). Roehlkepartain (1993) concluded that spiritual maturity involves a relationship between God and humans (vertical) as well as a social component in the relationship between humans (horizontal). He stated that the synthesis of these two dimensions combine to form a foundation for measuring integrated faith in order to identify the extent to which spiritual maturity can be evidenced. The resulting data indicated that a minority of church-going adults display an integrated faith. The findings also revealed that church-going adults reflect a greater degree of horizontal faith than vertical faith.
Alfredo Vergel's 6 page survey in the December issue Theological Librarianship titled "Using Technology for Ministry: Trends, Principles and Applications" is also available for free.
This survey of developments, guidelines and uses of technology by congregations and their leaders offers an overview of the topic and points to sources for further study. As technology plays a larger role in religious communities there is a need for guiding principles for its use. Congregational leaders do well to engage technology reflectively while staying informed on its possible applications in ministry. While this article is of primary interest to those in leadership positions at the congregational level, it can also serve both as a primer to seminary students and as a tool for librarians providing reference services on the topic.
The only reason I included on this site of Devine's and Deneulin's forthcoming article in Culture and Religion, "Negotiating religion in everyday life: A critical exploration of the relationship between religion, choices and behaviour", is the boldfaced sentence from the abstract. I want to read the full article in order to decide whether I can agree with the authors and whether the same applies to online actions:
One of the characteristics most often associated with religion is that it is a discrete source of value that shapes people’s attitudes and behaviour. In some cases, these values may be negative such as submission or violence; in other cases, religion is seen to promote positive values such as charity and social justice. In recent years, the international development community has reawakened an interest in religion, and has directly embraced the assumption that religion is foundational of people’s values, seeking how best to tap into the potential positive values while mitigating against the more negative values. This paper critically explores the assumptions behind this approach. It argues that there is no straightforward relationship between belonging to a religion and the values which inform one’s actions and decisions. Drawing on fieldwork research from India, the paper shows that it is impossible to disentangle religion from its interaction with the social, economic and political contexts in which it is lived. The paper concludes by deriving some implications of this for the way the international development community engages with religion.