Religion & Politics: USF Fall 2006

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Come join the Mass media of Religion

Nowadays religion is not only known for a person going physically to a specific place of worship, but instead it comes in a different form and through easy access without really leaving the comforts of home. The new form of religion is now seen in massive quantities and not only within places of worship but by advance in technology in forms of books, television, and radio. As stated in the chapter titled “Mediating Meaning: Religion in and as Contemporary Religion,” “A massive market in religious artifacts, a flood of books from religious presses and videotapes and compact discs from religious producers, a flourishing of religious devotions on the nation’s radio and television airwaves, and an eruption of religious messages of every possible description…all demonstrate how ideal for Americans is the marriage between the venerable appeals of faith and their concurrent fascination with the modern gadgetry of technology” (Sociology of Religion, 275). Is religion still the same with the form of consumerism? Does it replace the purpose of religion?
The most common is through books that expand pass the bible and other main religious texts and also include such books as, “scriptures, devotional tracts, compilations, of prayers” (279). The books expand from being solely sold within church gift shops, which also bring profit to the church, but also to mainstream books stores that usually do not fit into one particular section titled solely “religion”. Looking down a bookstore aisle and the organization the books instead fit into several categories such as: “faith, devotion, spirituality, Eastern beliefs and the New Age” (281). Through the variety of books the realm of religion is that “…[includes] no single thing, but some of everything; it is as if one had poured the accumulated wisdom from ages of religious thought and practice into an electric blender…[into] a mixture” (281). Should these books be kept separate or together under one title “religion”?
The next advancement is seen through the incorporation of religion within the broadcasting world, and the sounds of church on the sound waves of both television and radio is a different and another way to look at the growing of religion through other media. Television in particular is the main source that airs and conveys those, “public ceremonies [as] those events, that are rendered broadly public by way of their prominence within the sphere of the mass media” (Gilmore). The mix of what occurs within the places of prayer and religion began to be a ceremony that was not only for a private setting, but could be viewed to the public.
Is it a good idea to use the advancement in technology for gathering followers and believers to join in the ceremony and actions of a specific religion? When does mass media become too much? Is it always good to use the new technology? Will church go back to that of a private ceremony and solely within a specific place of worship? The meaning of religion has expanded pass the walls of specific places of worship through the collection of mass media. Religion enters this realm that exists not solely in one specific place but something that could be pulled off the shelves or ordered on television.

Works cited

Christiano, Kevin J., Swatos Willam H. Jr., and Kivisto, Peter. “Mediating
Meaning:Religion in and as Contemporary Culture.” Sociology of Religion: Contemporary Developments. AltaMira Press: Rowman& Little field Publishers Inc: 2002. 273-293.

Lee, Gilmore. “Public Ceremonies: ritualizing Civic, Media, and Social Life.”


  • I enjoyed reading the questions you raise regarding media and its influence in recent religion. I don't know if "church" should be replaced by watching someone speak on T.V. or on the internet. I understand that it can be useful and private- and who said to be a good christian/catholic/buddhist/ etc, you have to go to an actual place of gathering under a specified building? So perhaps it is a positive component in religion; the media has obviously made it a lot easier to get one's message accross. I just think there is something unique about gathering together (physically-not on your couch or computer chair) as a community to share your beliefs under a certain religion.

    By Blogger Briana G., at 9:24 AM  

  • After reading your blog, it made me think about what it actually means to be spiritually connected. Years before technology, people had to go to a church/ synagogue/ temple/ mosque for worship, but now, with our technological advances, people can now worship in the comfort of their own home through television, internet, books, etc. I feel that because of the spread of religion through media, people are reinterpreting religion in their own way, giving raise to new religion.

    By Blogger Wendy P, at 10:19 AM  

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