Religion on the Internet

When Mariner arose this morning, stumbling and half-conscious as usual, He heard his wife singing a hymn. He went to her office to see what was happening. She was live streaming a worship service and singing along with the pastor who had a good voice and was playing a guitar. The hymn’s lyrics were in a box on the side of the screen.

In this age of pandemics, the pastor was sitting on a stool in front of the sanctuary in an empty church. A viewer had all the components of a service that can be performed by one person. During the sermon, while listened to attentively, his wife also was doing her morning exercises.

Faith lives in eclectic times.

Curious about how wide the selection of streaming services was, mariner launched his search engine to discover there were thousands of services from across the rainbow of denominations. If first impressions are meaningful, mariner felt the live streaming options were far better than the television offerings which were either Roman Catholic or salvation by money.

So one must consider, as the pews empty in these days, whether there is a larger count of attendees sans apportionments, budgets and behavioral overhead. Most readers have been aware of faithful elderly who watch, indeed contribute financially, to the TV worship services. Mariner is reminded of a Jerry Lewis movie back in the 1960’s where an elderly woman bought every item that was advertised on the television. Can one achieve faith from a screen?

Mariner knows a family that attended services regularly because they liked the preacher. When the preacher moved on, he continued to be available through live streaming. The family now goes to church in their living room.

This raises a question about doctrine. While commitment to live streaming is commended, how does a viewer apply doctrine?[1] One of the core issues in today’s society is the ‘practice’ of religion – that is, put your body and your money where your mouth is, if mariner may butcher an old idiom. What makes faith important is how it shapes a believer’s behavior among peers and society at large. The old fashioned word is evangelism or mission or works, practices that are disappearing in organized religion and, perhaps, letting the Internet in.

Mariner is pulling out some Elvis gospel for inspiration.

Ancient Mariner

[1] ‘Doctrine’ is a church word that means rules, like the Constitution is for the United States. In the New Testament look for Sermon on the Mount or the many parables defining Christian doctrine.

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