Christianity in the Era of Electronic Communication

  1. Lemma
  2. Hriscanstvo u eri elektronskih komunikacija
  3. Serbian
  4. Stevanovic, Aleksandra
  5. Modes of interaction - Orthodox view on technology and engineering
  6. 7-12-2016
  7. Subotic, Oliver [Author]. Christian Message in the Electronic Communication Era
  8. Covek i tehnologija
    1. Subotic, Oliver
  9. church and technology - Orthodoxy and information technologies
  10. 30/12/2016
    1. The lecture by deacon Subotic was held on February 23rd, 2011 at the Faculty of Orthodox Theology in Belgrade. The author explained that until the 20th century, Christianity had spread message across the available media; in the period of early Christianity it was papyrus, then parchment, later replaced by paper.

      The contemporary time rapidly brings changes, given the increasing primacy of dynamic, electronic media. Internet is the "new media" that covers all pre-existing media: newspapers, telephone, radio, television. In the complex communication paradigm, the question of Christian idea destiny is raised, which is a complex issue that goes beyond the scope of the lecture, but in principle,  can be broken down into several key dilemmas.

      The first question would be referred to the aspects of the Christian mission using information and communication sphere. Indeed, it is indisputable that modern technologies allow new forms of mission: the transfer of huge amounts of multimedia content, the possibility of interactive communication, sending messages to the distant places and access data from a vast number of people. Availability of Christian literature in electronic form is complete and Christians follow the electronics industry trends. Therefore, at first sight it seems necessary to take advantage of technological innovations. The problem, however, is much more complex, according to the author.

      Since the possibility of Christian teaching has increased, the possibility of disinformation and spread of heterodox teachings and schismatic action has also risen. Does this "information inflation" mean that we need competition in the electronic space? In Orthodox Christianity that kind of competitive spirit has never had, and should not have, even in the electronic age. In fact, even when we form such a mass-media space it does not entail that the mission is successful. On the contrary, we can come to serious deviation, for instance, that members of the consumer society "consume" such information like any other and that it does not have any special impact, especially if it is outside, "packaged" in a similar way. It is notable that on the Christian Internet forums of large number of participants often use "slang" which is inappropriate, as well as the use of smiley or weird animations (such as cows licking your monitor screen). Therefore it is necessary that each of the media sphere has an unambiguous message of real participation in the life of the Church (to obtain the fullness of knowledge of religion) and convenient layout (which is different from the value of other information in the electronic world). 

      The second level of the problem is what the impact of electronic communication sphere on essential communication of Christians is. It happens that the cyber-Christian community of the forum (and even more Facebook) type has a special ethos of the group, sometimes with a greater degree of cohesion than the real assembly where their members participate. How else to explain the fact that on some internet forums there are cases of participation in specific topics at a time of Divine Liturgy? Does it imply the creation of pseudo-liturgic ethos or something else?

      Another problem is the identity displacement illustrated by a large number of Christians in the internet sphere appearing under different pseudonyms. Pseudonymity in the internet space is important, but quite unnatural for inter-Christian communication. When different "avatars" (small thumbnail next to the profile) are added thing get a wider dimension. For instance, several years ago a hundred young Bulgarians, Orthodox Christians, asked the Patriarchate to give them virtual parish since they spend considerable time using virtual identities (Sivov 2007). One might say that the concept of electronic church should be implemented, but the question that arises is whether people are saved by that. Simply put, the first and foremost question is how possible communion in such way is. Manuel Castells, one of the most famous contemporary sociologists characterized it as a "networked society of individuals" (Castells 2005), indicating that it is extremely reinforces individualism as a legacy, which in itself carries the connotation of problematic regarding Christian life.

      In general, the theme of electronic communication is not only of interest to theologians, but also philosophers, sociologists, psychologists since it is the theme of the man and technology relationship, as well as their impact on the man's personality.