The Internet is my church

I’ll tell you what hits my buttons. Any discussion on how the Internet can be used to host a spiritual/religious community.

Dr. Alison Marshall has some thoughts about the subject:

“It’s not generally believed that an on-line religious experience is possible, and there is certainly debate around this issue. People don’t think you can have a religious or spiritual experience when you’re clicking a mouse. But I’m not so sure that’s the case. If these experiences can take place in a temple or church, why not on-line? Some people don’t believe you can have the same experience on the Internet that you can in a temple or church. But I believe people can have meaningful experiences or interactions while they are on-line.”

Brandon University profile:
Dr. Alison Marshall
Assistant Professor, Department of Religion

My latest discovery is from the blog Church Marketing Sucks. One of the entries there is about What Web 2.0 Means for Your Church.

But what does web 2.0 look like inside the church? What happens when we apply the same web 2.0 attitudes to church marketing?

  • What if your church web site wasn’t just another place for information, but what if it was a connecting point for community?
  • What if your congregation provided the content instead of your pastor (or in addition)?
  • What if events were proposed, planned and put together by the people in the pews?
  • What if the church staff did less and the congregation did more?
  • And what if money wasn’t an issue?

Do you see where this is going? Suddenly you don’t have an overworked communications team doing all the updates. You have youth group members maintaining an online events calendar. You have a Sunday School teacher posting lesson notes on a blog and the learning suddenly happens outside of the classroom. You have older members of the congregation sharing their wisdom with younger members. You have people sharing and people connecting. Suddenly it’s not the pastor trying to do everything.

Web 2.0 is about giving power to the people. Nowhere does that have greater implications than the church.

I think a similar revolution is happening in the Baha’i Faith.

Snap, crackle, pop?

Here’s something I wrote back in 1998:

mouse in a toaster
Mmmm, toasty!

Recently we had pop-up toaster trouble. I’m the kind of anachronistic (it’s a fancy word for penny-pinching) guy who tries to fix a toaster when it breaks. This time it was the bits of wire that stop the toast from bumping against the elements and doing volcano impressions. One of the wire thingies had disintegrated, so I took the toaster apart and found not one but two mice in the bottom of the toaster. Those guys really were toast.

That’s when I started thinking about the silly assumptions I made when I bought the toaster. I’ve checked the box and the instructions, and nowhere does it say the thing’s for toasting bread. I mean, you can buy a bread-maker, a cake-mixer or a coffee percolator, and you can just tell from the name what the appliance is for. But a toaster…?

Vagueness is a great marketing ploy. I saw in that pop-up toaster an appliance of a thousand possibilities—you know, “cook mouth-watering bread-muffins, crumpets and pop-tarts in just minutes”. …Strangely, singed vermin was not on my fantasy menu when I handed over $40 for the thing. I assumed that you could drop slices of bread in it and get toast, because that’s what most folks around here use it for. Wrong.

I realise now that it’s a mousetrap (…a better mousetrap, with a one-touch cremation option). Mind you, droppping that bread into the toaster on a daily basis seemed to help attract the little rodents. They probably wriggled their way down to the bottom, fed their furry faces on the accumulated toast crumbs, then decided to check out the electrical switch-gear if it was the last thing they did.

Well, we’ve all started eating breakfast cereals around here, but I’ve started thinking that a bit of toast would be mice for a change.

Daughter Zohar says we need a new toaster. I pointed out that we often have mice in the kitchen. “Then we need a new kitchen!” was her reply. I’m currently in the market for a new planet. Alison was fairly unfazed. She was late for a meeting because the car wasn’t going properly (Yeah, I fix that too) and mice in the toaster wasn’t registering in the scheme of things. She’s tough, that girl.”

This Joke left a Bab Taste

One of the
One of the “offensive” posters
– Haaretz

Haifa to change offensive Independence Day posters

Source: Haaretz newspaper, Haifa
Date: Sun, April 18, 2004 / Nisan 27, 5764
By: David Ratner, Haaretz Correspondent

The Haifa municipality and local media in the city on Sunday moved to change posters advertising the upcoming Independence Day festivities that caused offense to the Bahai community, which is based in the northern city.

The large colorful posters were placed all around the city, inviting the public to next week’s Independence Day celebrations, and featured a smiling man and a woman with text underneath listing the shows that will take place in the city.

A closer look revealed that the graphic design artist added “hats” on the heads of the two. The woman was depicted wearing Haifa’s unique missile-shaped municipal building, while the man was wearing the golden dome that sits atop the Bahai shrine built on Zionism Boulevard years ago.

Representatives of the Bahai community on Sunday telephoned Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav to demand a change in the posters. Although the golden dome has been a symbol of the city for years, they said, they reject its use in a such a secular and commercial manner.

The mayor instructed teams to conceal the image of the shrine on the hundreds of posters throughout the city.

The status of the Bahai community in Haifa has increased considerably over the past years. This partly down to the huge investment, estimated at hundreds of million of dollars, spent on the construction of the hanging gardens between the Carmel and the lower area of the city, which today are one of Israel’s top tourist attractions.