Are you religious? Have you ever thought of doing your worshipping on your iPod, or in virtual reality?Religion to go

I’m not a very religious person, but I’m fascinated by the subject and always looking to learn more. While going through my Google reader last night I found an interesting topic that I hadn’t really thought of before: Religion and the Internet (specifically social media).

Spark on CBC Radio, hosted by Nora Young, was the show that piqued my interest. Specifically, it was the full interview with Rachel Wagner, an assistant professor of philosophy and religion from Ithaca College in New York.

They talked about how people in this digital age are looking to, let’s say, non-traditional methods for their worshipping. Here are a few examples they touched on during the interview:

  • A website that, for a fee, prays for you if you can’t manage to spare the time: Does it take away from the personal experience of religion and turn it into an automated task?
  • Having real cathedrals, like the one in Notre Dame in a virtual reality program like Second Life: Should people follow the same strict rules that apply “in real life” when in these religious places?
  • A downloadable version of the Qur’an for your iPod: is it right to have it alongside music, or should the device be solely for religious purposes?

Personally, I think people should be allowed to worship however they please, as long as they’re getting the spiritual growth they want out of the experience. That being said, I think there are some instances, like the ones above, that push the boundaries of acceptability:

  • Having a service pray for you because you don’t have time, kind of defeats the purpose in my mind
  • Whipping out your private parts and placing them on an altar in virtual Notre Dame cathedral is pretty disrespectful no matter where you are
  • Using an mp3 player solely for a religious text isn’t as blasphemous as people want to think

To the last point I like what Rachel says in response to people perhaps arguing that having a religious audiobook may be tarnishing the value of the text. To this, she says the audio format actually brings the teachings back to their origins. Many religions were spread through people passing stories along; only later were they written down and binded into books.

Another valid point is why should it matter what mp3 file the audio is next to? Like I mentioned before, as long as someone is getting their spiritual growth, or knowledge, that’s all that should matter.

This seems like a very touchy subject, but what do you think? Is the Internet ruining worshipping or just changing it?