RSA 2014 - Seeing the Light: Crossing Digital Borders in the American Church

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Amber Stamper and Amy Anderson
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If you burn a candle in a digital church, does anyone see the light?

The Christian church in America has historically existed as a material institution, embodied in buildings, hymnals and prayer books, pews, stained glass windows, and pulpits. These material dimensions have been explored by theorists like Roxanne Mountford, who looked at the rhetorical space around pulpits; Jon Butler, who explored the architectural "sacralization" of the American landscape through church construction, and William FitzGerald, who examined embodied modalities of prayer. There is no doubt that the material substance of the church has mediated the ways that we experience God.

As the church crosses the digital frontier, however, the material dimension of religion is changing. This RSA 2014 panel will examine the ways that digital technologies are reshaping the American religious experience. What happens when iPad apps supplant prayer books, Facebook groups replace communal gatherings, and brick and mortar places of worship go virtual? Topics may vary from the theoretical to the practical, examining issues from online evangelism to digitized prayer books and more.

Please send 200-word presentation descriptions to by June 24.