Polemics in Cyberspace

Adam Darlage: “Lutheran Knot of Doubt and Seven-headed Luther are titles of works from the sixteenth century, but could just as easily headline some of the more controversial websites floating around in cyberspace today. To be sure, the deployment of print, radio, and television in the service of religious agendas reminds us that religious controversialists work through a number of different media. But as more and more people get their information online instead of in printed sources, the proliferation of religious polemic and propaganda on the internet is worth watching carefully.”


“Under the sponsorship of the Martin Marty Center [Institute for advanced research in all fields of the study of religion at the University of Chicago Divinity School], Sightings reports and comments on the role of religion in public life via e-mail twice a week to a readership of over 5,000. Through the eyes, ears, and keyboards of a diverse group of writers – academics, clergyman, laypeople, and students – Sightings displays the kaleidoscope of religious activity: a reflection of how religious currents are shaping and being shaped in the world.

In today’s world, the force of religion is active and increasingly obvious. In the last year, we monitored the movement of religious groups and persons as they surfaced in national and international politics, including the evangelical face of the Bush administration, the courtroom culture wars of “under God,” the very real war of “good and evil” in Iraq, charitable choice, religion and the 2004 presidential race, and the question of gay marriage, to name only a few.

We also, of course, have kept tabs on the world of religion – churchmen, doctrines, and holy intrigue – as it has spilled out into the public square (for better or worse) in columns on subway tract wars, the fall of bishops, the future of Christianity and secularization theory, the debate over the James ossuary, Jews in America, Kwanzaa, and more.

True to our calling, we have also sighted religion in unlikely places, including pop music (Madonna and Eminem), architecture (the design of the World Trade Center site), photojournalism (the “camera pieta”), as well as in obvious places, like Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code and Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ.”


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