We live in a wired world where 24/7 digital connectivity is increasingly the norm. Christian megachurch communities often embrace this reality wholeheartedly while more traditional churches often seem hesitant and overwhelmed by the need for an interactive website, a Facebook page and a twitter feed. This book accepts digital connectivity as our reality, but presents a vision of how faith communities can utilize technology to better be the body of Christ to those who are hurting while also helping followers of Christ think critically about the limits of our digital attachments.
This book begins with a conversion story of a non-cell phone owning, non-Facebook using religion professor judgmental of the ability of digital tools to enhance relationships. A stage IV cancer diagnosis later, in the midst of being held up by virtual communities of support, a conversion occurs: this religion professor benefits in embodied ways from virtual sources and wants to convert others to the reality that the body of Christ can and does exist virtually and makes embodied difference in the lives of those who are hurting.
The book neither uncritically embraces nor rejects the constant digital connectivity present in our lives. Rather it calls on the church to a) recognize ways in which digital social networks already enact the virtual body of Christ; b) tap into and expand how Christ is being experienced virtually; c) embrace thoughtfully the material effects of our new augmented reality, and c) influence utilization of technology that minimizes distraction and maximizes attentiveness toward God and the world God loves.
Dr. Deanna A. Thompson is professor of Religion at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota. She teaches classes in African American Studies, Women's Studies, and Social Justice. During her almost twenty years at Hamline, in addition to being awarded Faculty of the year by faculty and students, she has also received awards for her advising. She is a respected scholar in the study of Martin Luther and feminist theology. Thompson is also an active member of the American Academy of Religion, where she served for eight years on the Board of Directors, six years as Director of the Upper Midwest Region, and six years as co-chair of the Martin Luther and Global Lutheran Traditions Program Unit.