Jeff Sharlet, editor of The Revealer, writes: I’ll be moderating a discussion session on religion, spirituality, and God blogs at Bloggercon, a conference about weblogs at Harvard Law School on April 17th. I’m pulling together a brief essay that’ll serve as a starting point for the discussion right now. And I need your help.
Bloggercon — which is open and free to everyone — isn’t about technology, it’s about how we use blogs and how they relate to media, politics, and culture in the broader world. Religion and belief are major fascinations within the blogosphere, whether written about by adherents, skeptics, or curious observers. Some faith groups form loosely-networked communities of blogs — St. Blog’s and jBlog come to mind — while plenty of secularists, particularly political bloggers, keep a close watch on religion in the public sphere. Get Religion, Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion, and, of course, The Revealer (as well as many others on the “God beat”) use the media as our lens with which to look at belief (and the varieties of belief as our lens with which to investigate the media). Much of the old school religious press now operate excellent blogs of their own.
So what does it all add up to? Where did belief blogs come from and where are they going? How do belief blogs relate to the real world — as lay ministry, as rebellion, as outsider critique? Do the different Godblogospheres, such as St. Blog’s and jBlog, have anything in common — and anything to learn from each other? Why does online belief tend toward greater political conservatism than the religious print press (or am I wrong in thinking that it does)? Do blogs do a better job of noticing religion in the news than the mainstream press? Are they a force for change within religious institutions? Journalistic institutions?
That’s just for starters. Answers welcome. Better questions even more welcome. Comment below.