Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The pervasive presence of religious discourse

I am amazed at how frequently religious discourse occurs in the public square. If you were to take all your cues from secular media, you would assume that religion is something that might deserve a few minutes every few days, as long as it is treated in such a way that it cannot be construed as offending influential interest groups.

Contrast this with the pervasive presence of religious discourse in some of the most unlikely places. I was a little surprised today, lurking on some of the message boards over at a very popular site called NationStates. Around 4:00 when I looked at the site, the top two threads were both discussions that revolved around religious themes. They were not substantive discussions, but the fact remains that numerous people found the discussion engaging enough to join.

One might wonder if this is a phenomena limited to philosophical places, since after all, NationStates is a place where people can try their hand at governing an imaginary nation, making political choices and seeing where it supposedly might take the nation. Regardless, you can wander into almost any interactive medium in cyberspace and see religious dialogue consuming countless pages, posts, discussion threads, and mailing lists. This is true even in bizarre places like computer hardware forums or role playing game boards usually meant for discussing game mechanics.

Most of the commentaries seen on these boards are revealing of the various camps and their opinions. You'll see the same range of personalities endlessly repeated. They run through all different levels of education, familiarity, tone, content, and civility. But one thing is for certain. Faith questions (and strongly held opinions related to them) remain a constant drum beat through all arenas of life.

Perhaps what the Christians say is true: life's most important questions cannot be ignored. Cyberspace's diverse interactive corners reveal that they aren't being ignored. Rather, they are being explored in the context of every experience available to man.

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