Is the internet the new Highway to Heaven? We welcome back Interfaith minister and author Rev. Sandra Lee Schubert (“Meditation for the Busy Person”) as she examines the pros and cons of religion online.
Where does God reside? In a church? Our hearts? Does God reside on the Internet highway? Go online and you could chat with neo-pagans, pray the rosary through a virtual rosary site or say the Daily Office in the soft ambient glow of your computer. What could be better then connecting to the multitudes sitting in front of their terminals rather then on a mountainside? Author Sam Keen says, “What doesn’t come through the screen? Smell, taste, touch. In other words, none of the senses are stimulated by Internet access, except the sense of sight. So the great danger is that the Internet disincarnates us, takes us away from our bodies, away from our communities, away from our sensuality.”
Does it? The various technological revolutions were all reported to be threats to religion. In his book on Christian missions, Andrew Walls shows that in the broad sweep of things, the constancy of religion is more striking than technological change.
Internet access allows for a buffet of choices. Choose some Buddhism, sprinkle on a little Christianity and spice it up with a good healthy dose of Hinduism. We can tread into uncharted territory and when the exploration gets too scary, we can just click off. Community is messy we can escape it but do we grow? The daily interaction can ultimately enrich us if we let it. Steve Waldman, the Founder, Chairman and Chief Content Officer of Beliefnet.com, says, “just as the telephone can be misused to harass and bedevil, so can the Internet end up either eroding or enhancing religion. It’s our choice.”
I love the computer and going online. I reach friends on the other side of the world. In addition, I have made amends with others. I have discovered things about my faith. I have engaged in lively dialogues about all things spiritual. The question whether God can be found online is the same question as where is God to be found at all. If I have come to rest in the comforting arms of my Lord, I take that with me wherever I go. Be that online or to Church, God does not leave my side when I log on.