Imaging Religious Identity: Intertextual Play among Postmodern Christian Bloggers

Paul Teusner

Abstract


In the fledgling but rapidly growing academic discipline of religion, media and culture, much attention has been paid to the use of new media to create and develop individual religious identities, build connections and foster group identities. Yet to date most research has focussed on exchanges of literal text between users, and little has considered the importance of visual text (either still images or videos) in the communication of meaning in online environments. In this presentation, I would like to introduce the image as an object of research in the construction of religious identity in online interaction.
The presentation will explore the blogs of 35 Australians who are conversant with a religious movement known as “the emerging church”, a global collection of ideas and conversations residing mainly in traditional Protestant churches that seeks new expressions of faithful living in postmodern urban culture, and challenges the consumerism of contemporary evangelicalism seen in “the megachurch”. By the use of captioned images, video capture (including links to YouTube) and web page design, I will show how bloggers endeavour to present themselves as being “on the margins” of conventional Christian life and practice, and employ intertextual play to challenge modern binary oppositions of orthodoxy/heresy, art/dirt, fun/work, and constructions of gender and ethnicity.

Keywords


senses , internet , Christianity , weblogs , Emerging Church

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.11588/rel.2010.1.9387