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Media of Religious Communication

Session Chair: N.N. | Tuesday, August 9-11 a.m. | Venue

Anna Neumaier

Religiosity between Offline & Online: About the Exodus of (some) Christians from Churches to Online Boards

The Internet has often been viewed as a new medium with uniquely attractive qualities, and therefore being able to explain religious Internet use on its own terms. The paper presented here argues that, on the contrary, essential reasons for Christian Internet use can be found in clearly nameable deficiencies of traditional churches and parishes. What is more, while the respective Internet users experience a destabilization of their religiosity in offline contexts, the Internet use can be understood as an autonomous attempt to restabilize one's beliefs. The findings presented are drawn from a PhD thesis on Christian, German-language online boards, where especially the relations and interdependencies of religious Internet use and the corresponding offline engagement became an important matter. Results come from an empirical study, including online analyses, qualitative interviews and a quantitative survey.

Gábor Ittzés

Luther’s Reform of the Ars Moriendi: A Sermon on Preparing to Die and the Medieval Tradition

The art of good death was a mainstay of the European religious landscape for at least half a millennium between 1400 and 1900. It developed in the wake of the Black Death, spread virtually over the whole continent, and survived, both in Catholic and Protestant lands, until the twentieth century. Luther’s Sermon on Preparing to Die (1519) is a landmark in that history. It is deeply rooted in the late medieval tradition, which it nevertheless renewed significantly and with lasting effects. This paper will explore how the Sermon helped transform the practice of preparation for death, paying attention not only to continuities and discontinuities between the Reformer and his fifteenth-century predecessors but also interpreting the changes in the context of Luther’s own work and that of the developing sixteenth-century Reformation. The analysis pays special attention to the questions of images and word, faith and sacrament, rhetorical strategy and performative character.

Muhammad Akram

The Genre of ‘Letters’ (Maktūbāt) as a Medium of Spiritual Instruction in the Naqashbandiyyah Sufi Order

Writing of letters for the purpose of spiritual instruction was used by the famous Indian Sufi Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindī (1564-1624) quite extensively. His letters were eventually collected in three thick volumes and contain a wealth of religious, cultural, and historical data. His spiritual descendants carried on the tradition of letter writing for religious instruction and thus maktubāt (the letters) emerged as an innovative medium of communication between the Sufi masters and their disciples. This paper tracks along the development of Maktūbāt as a distant genre of spiritual and devotional literature and discusses its role in the expansion of Naqashbandīyyah Sufi order. For the purpose of analysis, the paper draws on a range of collections of letters beginning from Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindī through some of the later collections from the 20th century.

Simon Stjernholm

Muslim Online Preaching: The Case of Sweden

This paper will present and analyse key actors and discourses in Swedish Muslim online preaching. Muslim online preachers are important actors in the current European Muslim landscape. These preachers are aware of the challenges European Muslim youth face due to their own personal experiences. The Internet provides an accessible platform through which they can reach a potential audience as well as complement oral communication with visual media. What online preachers say, how they say it, and how they seek to influence their audience are fundamental questions to pose. Yet Muslim online preaching remains an underexposed topic in international research. In this paper, individual Swedish Muslim preachers and their respective rhetoric will be presented, as will groups of preachers sharing a similar theological/ideological outlook. The analytical potential of creating a typology of online preachers that reaches beyond theological categories will also be addressed.


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