Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What Is This Religion Blogosphere?

As many of you know, I'll be debuting my editorship of The Revealer, a website published by New York University's Center for Religion and Media, starting next month. Inshallah! We've got to give the site a little make-over and then we'll be ready to go with more of what Revealer lovers have always come to the site for: analysis of how religion is reported by the media.

And so, to get us all ready, it seems fit to note a new study published by another religion website, The Immanent Frame, a publication of the Social Science Research Council, that looks at the state of the religion blogosphere. And admits that it may be the first to find that there is a religion blogosphere.

The report has caused quite a bit of discussion amongst other sites on the report's list of 100 religion blogs (of which The Revealer, even in it's current semi-conscious state) is one.

At GetReligion, folks get all picky about being included in a list of religion blogs, then about how they are described in the report! Terry Mattingly writes:

That “conservative” label is certainly accurate, if they are describing your GetReligionistas when it comes to matters of faith and doctrine. We are also very “conservative” when it comes to the basics of journalism.

However, I just looked up at the framed portrait of Franklin Delano Roosevelt that is above my desk and asked the old Democrat if he thought that word fit me, when it comes to politics. He said that the label was too simplistic. Honest, that’s what he said.

Brad Greenberg of The God Blog shows up in the comments, as do some links and comments about other blogs on the list.

Frederick Clarkson of Talk to Action wrote about his inclusion on the list at DailyKos recently, taking the occasion to note that not everyone thinks renegade religion blogs are a good thing. Clarkson writes:

But significantly, the first thought from the editor of the blog First Thoughts, was to say that religion bloggers really ought to be subject to ecclesiastical authority.

First Thoughts is the blog of the religiously neoconservative journal, First Things.

Noting the report's mention of the Vatican's concern about unsanctioned blogs, Clarkson continues:

Of course, most American religious individuals and institutions have no such censorious impulse. But that does not change the fact that religious rightism may not only express itself via blogging (as it already does), but will be considering how to silence bloggers with whom they disagree.

At Talk to Action, as I mention in my comment about the report at The Immanent Frame, we take a different view:

Our featured writers come from a variety of religious and non-religious backgrounds and represent a range of progressive political perspectives. But we all write from the standpoint of recognizing the importance, as well as the historic and constitutional significance, of religious pluralism and the separation of church and state. It is this unity of perspective about the nature of the threat to these values from the Religious Right that animates our conversation and gives structure to how we learn from one another...

Even as we think and write critically about the Religious Right, we seek to do so without resorting to unfair labeling and demonization tactics. In this way, we seek to model effective civic —and civil— discourse. We embrace a common understanding that we all share the same rights, but that the religious supremacism of most elements of the Religious Right is a threat to the rights of all.

It was really just a matter of time before the theocratically inclined began to cast wether eye at the blogosphere. And that time has come.

The discussion following Clarkson's post is telling: many tend to find criticism of the church overblown - in this case the concern that the Catholic church and others may work to censure online content by and about their denomination - or they find that criticism of the church doesn't go far enough, shutting down all constructive and productive conversation.

Justin Whitaker at American Buddhist Perspective reacts to his inclusion in the report and it's content.

I encourage you to read the report. And as you get ready for the revival of The Revealer, let me know what your thoughts on the religion blogosphere are.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home