In recent years every major institution has had to adapt to the fast-evolving technologies of the digital age or risk being left behind. Amid a global crisis of faith and declining levels of religious participation in places around the world, the Catholic Church has likewise come face to face with the challenges and possibilities of new media.
Sacred Cyberspaces reveals how long-standing conflicts over power, influence, and legitimacy within religious organizations are being waged in the digital realm. Oren Golan and Michele Martini describe the tensions that arise as religious groups seek to reach the faithful in online spaces where traditional clerical authorities have less expertise and control. Focusing on the Catholic world, they examine the rise of devotional digital entrepreneurship and the roles of lay religious webmasters: the video makers, app developers, and web designers who devote their lives to evangelization and who literally run the show. The book also explores the nature of religious experience as it pivots to online platforms: cyberculture, prayer, ceremonies, pilgrimage, proselytization, and the relation to the transcendental.
From live-streaming at world-famous sites in the Holy Land to the Instagram feed of Pope Francis, Sacred Cyberspaces evaluates the contemporary media strategies of the Catholic Church and sheds light on the future of religion online.
Oren Golan is a member of the Faculty of Education at the University of Haifa, specializing in new media, self-educating communities, and the sociology of religion.
Michele Martini is a researcher focusing on semiotics, visual anthropology, and new media studies at the University of Cambridge.