An interesting article appeared in the July issue of Religious Education by Julie Anne Lytle of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It, titled “Virtual Incarnations: An Exploration of Internet-Mediated Interaction as Manifestation of the Divine,” is interesting to me because this is the first scholarly article I encountered that is clearly written from a strong religious perspective. See the abstract:
As faith communities are moving online and creating virtual churches, one widespread critique is the disembodied nature of online relationships. Citing fears of engagement with others who are misrepresenting themselves, many argue that virtual churches are not “real” and Internet-mediated communications (IMC) should not be incorporated into faith formation. However, with the exception of those who lived and walked with Jesus, most of humanity knows God and feels God’s presence through “virtual incarnations.” This article identifies the essential communicative and expressive aspects of physical relationships that manifest the Divine and some of the ecclesial ramifications of virtual church.