In a new book, How Facebook Killed the Church, author Richard Beck argues that our new connectivity online is not necessarily a good thing for organized religion - at least in one respect. He says it offers a replacement for the important social function that houses of worship have long provided. One reason that millennials are leaving, he says, is because the digital world is providing a sense of community that has been an aspect of churches and other communities of faith.
Wayne Slater of
Morning News asks “.. is the broader digital world is providing something our places of faith once did - a center of social networking? Is that a problem? And if so, what do we do about it? Here is one of the five responses: Dallas
MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism,
Substitution plays a key role in the social game of demand and supply of satisfaction. Indeed, the satisfaction is measured in terms of a sense of community and coherence offered by the religion to draw the congregants to its sanctuaries, when there is an alternate source of satisfaction that is easy to be had, people will switch.
Historically Religion had the monopoly in offering a sense of community, where people gathered to hear stories of the prophets and God, of evil and good as that was an affordable communal entertainment in those days. Perhaps that was the only dominating topic of humanity some 2000 years ago, subsequently topics like Astronomy, Mathematics and Medicine started chipping into that monopoly.
Fast forward to 21st century; Religion gets relegated to the weekend activity and as Richard Beck argues in "How Facebook Killed the Church," religion further loses its traditional share in capturing the congregants to an alternate source of satisfaction; the facebook. There is an element in all of us that seeks freedom through alternatives.
To millions out there, facebook is home! Where one feels completely at ease, you can browse through it at your leisure with no tension, you don't have to answer to any one and you will always find some one whom you can chat with any time of the day un-intrusively. What cave was to the saints in the past, facebook is to the people today; a safe haven.
Questions about Religion that people were afraid to ask, and expression of dissension cannot be easier than at facebook, indeed no one will be called on the carpet. It is also increasing one's ability to interact with each other and a new language of refinement is emerging and new communities are forming based on shared interests.
However, facebook will never be a full blown competition to the sense of community one finds in a Church. All systems will have their share of the communities but there is nothing like being with people and with the family, Church will continue to be a major player in our lives and will maintain its own, but dwindling market share.
For all the five responses, please visit: http://religionblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2011/03/texas-faith-will-facebook-kill.html
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day to the Media and the public. http://www.mikeghouse.net/