Convergences

Weekly round up number three—trends to follow: Muslims in the U.S., religion and health care, the church of the future.

Altmuslim raises a key question facing American Muslims: How to balance the push to explain themselves to the public-at-large with the pull to stay put in their own communities?

Part of the problem, writes Abdelrahman Rashdan, is the lack of a central authority. That fact makes it as hard to provide a reliable count of American Muslims as it is to present a unified position on the issues of the day.

Muslims—akin to other immigrant groups—have focused on doing well in their adopted country. Participating in the public square was not a priority. But that changed after 9/11. Altmuslim asks: What do we do now?

That's also the question bedeviling religious progressives since the religious/political right stole the Alinksi playbook. Dan Gilgoff reports the answer debuts today: a television commercial. Faithful America may have the TV spot ready, but it's going to take a lot more than talking heads to counter the local organizing and concomitant news coverage that the right-wing has generated. Watching what's next and monitoring the who's and how's of coverage—will the legacy media overlook the religious left while the right's wildest antics are duly noted?—may be depressing.

I'm late to the party; Scott McClellan's speculations on the church in 2034 ran six weeks ago. But given my interest in technology and religion, I devoured them. Among the highlights: volunteerbots at gigachurches, no-tech nanochurches and holographic sermons. My fave is the notion of on-demand religion: “interactive spiritual development stations” allow worshipers to access on-demand content from their church library, enabling “a worship experience of their own programming, on their own schedule.”

Sound familiar? It should. Media logic dictates new ways of interacting, information-sharing, setting authority and structuring reality. Institutional religion will fare no differently than legacy media. But will it be better prepared?
 
Diane Winston
 

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