Online Communities and Radical Reformation Perspectives

Today the Urban Connection of the Mennonite Mission Network has published an article on web communities. I am really excited about the article, Online Finds: Web Leads to Real Communiy by Ryan Miller, for a couple reasons. First it shows that the Anabaptists are also asking questions about the global information culture and implications for the church. And second, Ryan interviewed me and used some of our conversation in the article!

Here are a couple interesting quotes from the article (these are not mine!):

In ages past, religious seekers might have gathered in caves, public squares or cloisters to talk about faith. Their theology developed in upper rooms, sanctuaries, meetinghouses, restaurants and cafés.

Add the Internet to that list of holy places.

Blogs and forums can provide support, challenge ways of thinking, worship God and offer inspiration – the same things found in most physical communities. Which leads to a question: Can virtual communities be a substitute for the physical world?

“Where two or three are gathered is church. … I think it’s an important outlet for people who are part of local communities to share their perspective, find support and hear what others have to say,?? Nafziger wrote in an e-mail. “On the other hand, I don’t think it’s reached the point where our interactions are sustained or deep enough to replace face-to-face meetings.??

“Every word we write should be part of the mortar that holds the stones in place,?? wrote John Ballard, who responded to a question posted at young.anabaptistradicals.org. “It may not be possible to feed, house or medicate the physical body over the Internet, but reaching out to someone’s spiritual health is absolutely possible. So to that end, we have as Christians another tool in our toolbox. To the extent we learn to use it well, we can advance the Great Commission.

This article, and the various sites it points to, is evidence of the growing conversation among the Radical Reformation believers over these very important issues.

So if you haven’t gone there yet – check it out now.

Other sites associated with the article:

Young Anabaptists Radicals
Jesus Radicals
Amosis16
Anabaptist Network

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Published by

Wess

...is the William R. Roger Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC., PhD in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, served as a "released minister" at Camas Friends Church, and father of three. He enjoys sketchnoting, sharing conversation over coffee with a friend, listening to vinyl and writing creative nonfiction.

7 thoughts on “Online Communities and Radical Reformation Perspectives”

  1. So I got this opportunity to read the article and I loved it. It appears accurate of what is going on in the world of blogs. Good Quotes.

  2. Wess:
    thanks for a helpful post which points to an important and fascinating article. I am sharing this with others in our meeting here in Newberg, OR.

  3. Yes, it is a way of beginning religious discussion, and has been for the last 20 years. Actually the technology of 15 years ago was more conducive to real community than the internet today, when most electronic communication was through amateur BBS networks, rather than the commerciallised Internet of today, where there is often communication without community.

  4. Steve, I wasn’t aware of the state of things 15 years ago and hadn’t considered how commercialism has re-shaped our “communities.” thanks for the insight.

  5. Perhaps I could elaborate — the amateur BBS networks, like Fidonet, FamilyNet etc were mostly run on a shoestring by sysops who ran their outfit on a shoestring. Fido Technology Networks had echo conferences that allowed true many-to-many discussions (which blogs are not), and had offline readers that could select messages for reading by topic or keywords. Participants thus got to know one another, and formed a virtual community based on a common interest, even if they lived in different parts of the world.

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