A Week Of Reflection – Christian Messages on the Radio, Cringe Making or Life Giving?
I started the week, based on no evidence or reflection at all, that Christian radio or Christian slots on secular radio were a bit cheesy. I spent the first couple of days listening to the Pause for Thought type slots that had been broadcast on secular radio and Christian radio stations. I soon realised that the ones that were holding my attention were the broadcasts that had a story or a personal experience in them.
I was becoming more convinced of their value and decided to ask my Facebook friends their views on Pause for Thought type slots. I was very surprised by the results, especially from my friends who do not have a faith. One man replied that he had heard something on the radio about doing one selfless act a day for no personal gain and he had been trying to do this, another lady valued the time to stop and think that the broadcast gave her and to hear a different perspective on life.
My friends with a faith and busy lives valued the fact that they could be challenged or encouraged by God while going about their daily tasks. Others said the radio can be on as background noise but when Pause for Thought starts they find themselves concentrating.
(25 Jun 2015) » More about Christian Radio Messages
What is the place of face-to-face church in a digital age?
In an almost constantly connected digital age. What is the current and future place of face to face in Church, especially Sunday morning services and house groups?
I have spent this last week looking at issues around digital media and how it relates to church. The more I have read the more questions I have had. Some of these questions are listed below;
What will be the future shape of ministry in a multimedia age?
What might the church look like in 25 years’ time? How will church happen? What present and future techs will affect how churches run a service?
Where is the place of intimacy in digital media?
What does it mean to be gathered? Jesus says; for where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18v20).
Does this apply when we are part of an online community?
Mother Teresa once said that the greatest poverty in the West was loneliness. So how does digital media help with loneliness? People can be digitally connected but still isolated.
How are we changed as technology offers us substitutes for connecting face to face?
What actually is church?
(24 Jun 2015) » More about Church in a digital age
Placement reflections Digital Catechism
“What is your Name?”
So begins the catechism in the Book of Common Prayer. Inspired by one of the presentations at the Media Lit 2015 conference last week (by the brilliant Erkki Sutinen), I have spent the last few days exploring the potential creative connections between digital media and catechism.
Catechism is an ancient practice of initiation into the Christian faith – an initial Christian education, in which catechumens (those doing the learning) are accompanied by a catechist (a more experienced Christian) who can pass the foundations of the faith down to them. This grounding has traditionally included:
- Doctrine (often as creedal statements)
- Ethics (usually including the 10 Commandments, and Jesus’ summary of ‘the 2 greatest Commandments’)
- Practice (knowing what the sacraments of the Church are and what they mean)
- and Prayer (centred on The Lord’s Prayer)
Today the formal practice of catechism (and the word ‘catechism’) is something that is mainly at home in the Roman Catholic Church. Certainly for me, growing up as a charismatic evangelical, this kind of formal structured Christian learning was not something that I experienced. However, in my time as a youth worker – particularly through working with groups who were preparing for confirmation – I found myself drawing on this rich heritage. New believers, or young people making the transition into owned, informed, adult faith don’t need a download of every experience and thought of an older Christian – part of our journey of faith with God is about learning to follow Jesus and working that out with Him – but what we do need is a solid foundation on which our lives of faith can be built. This is the value of catechism.
(23 Jun 2015) » More about Digital Catechism
Some Thoughts on MediaLit15
Last week was another packed, inspirational MediaLit course. With three students working with CODEC this week, we asked for their thoughts on the past week:
Last week we spent a week with Codec on a Media Lit Course. We had several experts in the field come and discuss with us many different aspects of our multimedia digital age. I have really been encouraged by how up to date the course was; we have been looking at multimedia issues that are current and relevant. Too often in church ministry it seems that we are trying to catch up with current trends and fads in the world at large. So often we seem to be one step behind what is actually happening in the ‘secular’ world. The Media Lit course went totally against this trend. I feel that I am now far better informed regarding current trends in media and how they might impact us as church leaders.
(17 Jun 2015) » More about MediaLit15
Is Online Communion Theologically Sound?
"Communion services on social media like Twitter "compromise the integrity of the sacrament", according to a report to be considered by the Methodist Conference later this month."
So starts an article on the theological validity, or otherwise, of online communion. CODEC team members Dr Bex Lewis and Rev Dr Pete Phillips both commented on this, with extended comment from Pete based upon recent research.
(5 Jun 2015) » More about Online Communion
CODEC Research Seminar with Josh Mann 28-05-15
“From Scrolls to Scrolling: The Bible’s Ever-Changing Medium and Layout”
Biblical texts have been recorded upon (or in) various media and in various layouts over three millennia. Exploring these changes and their effects helps us put digital versions of the Bible in perspective and develop reading strategies for getting the most out of the Bibles we read, whatever the medium.
(29 May 2015)
CODEC Research Seminar with Elizabeth Buie
“User Experience and the Human Spirit”
People use artefacts in many ways to support their spiritual practices. From low-tech artefacts such as books, candles and pencils to high-tech ones such as DVDs, websites and mobile apps, design plays a role in how artefacts contribute to the practices and experiences that they support. This talk will summarise Elizabeth’s PhD research and give a hint of the grounded theory that is beginning to emerge from it.
(11 May 2015)
Digital Theology Research Seminar, 7th May
On Thursday 7th May, CODEC staff will be introducing aspects of Digital Theology along with the following guests from Finland:
Professor Erkki Sutinen, Computer Science, University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu
Dr Esko Lahtönen, Head of Research, Diak University, Finland
Dr Hannu Majamäki, Social Media Coordinator for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland
Venue: Tristram Room, St John's College
Time: 10 am – 3 pm
Please book via firstname.lastname@example.org
Tickets for lunch can be purchased for £6.90 or £5.75 [student]
(30 Apr 2015)
Dimbleby Lecture - Martha Lane Fox
Martha Lane Fox's Dimbleby Lecture the other night seemed to hit a nerve. There were some key takeaway lines: "It's not OK not to understand the internet anymore" (Aaron Swartz), "Britain could be brilliant at digital, but we've been too slow, too incremental - in skills, infrastructure, in public services”, “We’re letting commercial technology platforms shape much of our digital lives”…and indeed much of the speech seemed to be a collection of memorable one liners designed to make digital savvy viewers jump for joy!
(1 Apr 2015) » More about Dimbleby Lecture
[BOOK CLUB] The Meaning of the Digital Humanities by Alan Liu
In the above article, discussed by the CODEC reading group this week, Liu argues that the problem of meaning in the digital humanities registers the crisis of meaning in the humanities more generally:
“My thesis is that an understanding of the digital humanities can only rise to the level of an explanation if we see that the underlying issue is the disciplinary identity not of the digital humanities but of the humanities themselves. For the humanities, the digital humanities exceed (though they include) the functional role of instrument or service, the pioneer role of innovator, the ensemble role of an ‘additional field’, and even such faux-political roles assigned to new fields as challenger, reformer, and (less positively) fifth column. This is because the digital humanities also have a symbolic role. In both their promise and their threat, the digital humanities serve as a shadow play for a future form of the humanities that wishes to include what contemporary society values about the digital without losing its soul to other domains of knowledge work that have gone digital to stake their claim to that society” (410).
(19 Mar 2015) » More about The Meaning of the Digital Humanities
Preaching the Psalms - 21 February 2015
On Saturday 21 February, 84 delegates arrived at Haughton House from various parts of the north east to be part of a day on Preaching the Psalms which St John’s College, Durham University was hosting. The day was organised by CODEC's Research Fellow for Preaching and Imagination Rev Dr Kate Bruce and is part of her series on ‘Preaching’. The day was led by three outstanding speakers.
(18 Mar 2015) » More about Preaching the Psalms Event
CODEC Research Seminar with Dave Stout
Presented at the CODEC Research Seminar, Thursday 5th March 2015
David Stout, Research Fellow in Digital Resources, explores the use of digital and online technology for training Ordinands within the Church of England.
(7 Mar 2015)
Introducing The Portal Project
CODEC was recently commissioned by the Jerusalem Trust to set up an online site for discipleship resources, which will host a broad range of materials from across the spectrum of British Christianity. We know that there are lots of great resources out there, but it can be very difficult for individuals and groups to find high-quality materials that are suitable for their context. We plan to be the first place that Christians from all kinds of churches in the UK will come to in order to find resources to use as they seek to grow and develop in their faith.
(19 Feb 2015) » More about The Portal Project
Dr Bex Lewis featured on The One Show
For Internet Safety Day (theme 'Make a Better Internet Together'), drawing on her best-selling book Raising Children in a Digital Age, Dr Bex Lewis, Research Fellow in Social Media and Online Learning, was invited onto the famous green sofa for The One Show, along with BBC News the following day, and a range of radio interviews (see full media coverage).
(10 Feb 2015)
BOOK CLUB: How We Think by Katherine Hayles
This week the CODEC team focused upon the third chapter of Katherine Hayle’s How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis (University of Chicago Press, 2012). The third chapter focuses upon ‘How We Read: Close, Hyper, Machine’, and certainly gave us lots to chew on.
Initial comments were that we liked what was written, but found the emphasis on all the negative reports about digital as frustrating. An oft heard argument is that our reading is worse ‘because of digital things’, and some members of the team felt that there were broader cultural factors at work rather than solely technological factors. There was agreement that the forms of technology may be changing the manner of reading, as we referring to the ‘F-Shaped Pattern for Reading Web Content’, noting that the further a user scolls, the more eye attention tends to drop off. On p.66, Hayles noted that “Canny web designers use this information to craft web pages, and reading such web pages further intensifies this mode of reading” – so in a self-reinforcing manner, as this form of reading becomes common, more people write for it, so it becomes more common.
(4 Feb 2015) » More about Katherine Hayles 'How We Think'
NEWS: New CODEC Branding
If you keep half an eye on CODEC you might have noticed a few changes that have been happening over the last few months. First up was our designation as a Research Centre of Durham University, then shortly after that came the addition of three new staff members (you can read up all about these events on our blog here).
Well, I’m glad to officially introduce our latest change: the new CODEC branding (including a video).
(8 Dec 2014) » More about New CODEC Branding
BOOK CLUB: Defining Digital Humanities
Back in October the CODEC team discussed Melissa Terras’ inaugural professorial lecture on digital humanities, whilst this week we focused on the associated book Defining Digital Humanities: A Reader (Ashgate, 2013) edited by Terras, Nyhan, Vanhoutte. We focused upon the introduction (pp1-7), and a series of definitions of ‘digital humanities’, covering the years 2009 to 2012 (pp279-297).
Discussions started with a questioning of which of the definitions most resonated with members of the CODEC team, seeking to clarify that what CODEC is doing is actually “digital humanities”. Bearing in mind that the text indicates that “we make no attmpt to imply that one view is more correct than another, nor do we believe this to be the case” (p279), it is unsurprising that there were a range of views. Digital humanities allows us to pursue questions humanists have always pursued, but faster and on a larger scale; it allows us to focus on digital culture, including cyberculture and posthumanism; and other projects allow us to create new online materials for future use.
(7 Dec 2014) » More about Defining Digital Humanities
PRESS RELEASE Transformative Church Technology: CODEC Travels to Finland
Durham researchers travelled to snowy Finland to explore transformative technology with potential for use within the worldwide church.
Peter Phillips and David Stout, two members of Durham University’s CODEC Research Centre for Digital Theology, recently travelled to Joensuu to visit the University of Eastern Finland.
(5 Dec 2014) » More about CODEC Travels to Finland
KEYNOTE Transforming Humanity with Pete Phillips #CNMAC14
The prospect of designer babies, genetically enhanced athletes, human clones and transhumanism all raise huge ethical questions and challenge our concept of what it means to be human.
Watch this 10 minute keynote from CODEC Director, Dr Pete Phillips, at the Christian New Media Conference 2014
(3 Dec 2014) » More about CNMAC14
BLOG: How accurate is research drawn from Social Media Data???
There is a really good piece of research in the Telegraph today which raises serious questions about the use of social media in quantitative research. The article is based on research done by Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and McGill University in Montreal. The key argument is that the bias towards specific age groups and social profiles of different social media platforms is rarely corrected within the datasets which are drawn from them.
BOOK CLUB: Discusses Funding in Higher Education
Today the book club met and discussed three pieces I (Josh) selected, none of which came from a book(!), as it happens:
(1) Clay Shirky, “The End of Higher Education’s Golden Age” (from Shirky’s blog). Jan 2014
(2) John Warner, “Clay Shirky Comes Not to Praise Education, but to Bury It” (online Inside Higher Ed).
(3) Simon Head, “The Grim Threat to British Universities”. (online, The New York Review of Book, 2010).
(18 Nov 2014) » More about Book Club - Funding in Higher Education
EVENT: Catherine Keller’s Cloud of the Impossible
CODEC's Research Fellow in Digital Discipleship and Curator for the Discipleship Portal Project, Dr Marika Rose, will be responding to Catherine Keller, Professor of Constructive Theology at the Theological School, Drew University, placing Keller's work into dialogue with her own interests.
PUBLICATION: Review in Political Theology
Dr Marika Rose had a review of Religion, Politics, and the Earth: The New Materialism. By Clayton Crockett and Jeffrey W. Robbins. NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. 181 pp. £51. ISBN: 978-1-137-26892-1 (hbk) published in the journal Political Theology.
(17 Nov 2014) » More about Review in Political Theology
MEDIA: Rev Dr Pete Phillips on Bible Reading in the UK
A month ago, Pete was asked to go on UCB Christian Radio and discuss ebooks and Bible reading with the presenter Paul Hammond. We've just been able to get hold of the interview in MP3 format.
(13 Oct 2014) » More about Rev Dr Pete Phillips on Bible Reading in the UK
MEDIA: Dr Bex Lewis Should McCann Twitter abuser have been doorstepped on TV?
Dr Bex Lewis was asked to write a piece for 'The Conversation' (Academic Rigour, Journalistic Flair) on the death of Brenda Leyland related to 'trolling' of the McCanns.
BOOK CLUB: Understanding Digital Humanities
The CODEC team have initiated a bookclub which meets every other Tuesday lunchtime. Recently I was asked to pick the reading for the first meeting and then to write up the conversation afterwards in the form of a blog post. Sadly, so much is happening in CODEC at the moment that I have only just got round to writing this post.
(3 Oct 2014) » More about Book Club
MEDIA: Marika Rose 'Is it Wrong to Seek Miracles?'
Dr Marika Rose is discussion with Charlynne Boddie and Maria Rodrigues, on Premier's Woman to Woman show, sharing their thoughts on the miraculous.
NEWS: CODEC welcomes new staff to the team
Over the summer, CODEC some fun interviewing a host of excellent candidates for the new posts made available through the research grants awarded to us last Spring. The three successful candidates are now in post.
(5 Sep 2014) » More about New Staff
NEWS: CODEC designated as a Research Centre of Durham University
CODEC has been designated as a Research Centre of the University of Durham, hosted by the world-renowned Department of Theology and Religion, and within the Faculty of Arts.
What does that mean? Well, it means that our ground-breaking research, our passion for networking and our brilliant staff are recognised within the university as offering a leading role in developing the new field of Digital Theology. It means that we have more confidence in approaching Research Councils, knowing that we are part of one of the UK’s top five universities and one of the top 100 universities in the world. It means we can hopefully secure more funding to do some more great work.
(3 Sep 2014) » More about CODEC designated research centre
EVENT: Greenbelt 2014
The CODEC team was invited to participate in 'full force' at Greenbelt 2014, running a morning worship session each morning, focusing on discipleship (Dr Bex Lewis), gaming (Dr Tim Hutchings and Dr Marika Rose) and cyber-humanity (Rev Dr Pete Phillips).
(1 Sep 2014) » More about Greenbelt 2014
EVENT: CODEC Participating in Spiritus North-East, an Ecumenical Event
CODEC is a Research Centre of the University of Durham exploring the interfaces between the Bible, the digital environment and contemporary culture. We want to see how the contemporary world interacts with the world of the theology and religion - particularly the Christian faith story. We will be occupying a suite of rooms in Pemberton Hall for the day of Spiritus14. You can find out more about what we do, and we will be offering interactivity in the form of conversation, a discussion board, face-to-face conversation, and some sugar - as well as the following workshops and social media surgery:
(20 Aug 2014) » More about Spiritus North-East
MEDIA: Dr Bex Lewis offers 'GodSlots' for UCB Media
Dr Bex Lewis prepared one minute 'Godslots' for UCB Media, to be played frequently across the radio station for at least 6 weeks from w/c 4th August 2014.
(18 Jul 2014) » More about Dr Bex Lewis offers 'GodSlots' for UCB Media
MEDIA: Dr Bex Lewis on 'In Good Company' with Jeff Lucas and Ruth Dearnley
Dr Bex Lewis is the core guest on this "Laid back chat show where guests are interviewed about their life ministry and their faith journey", particularly related to her book Raising Children in a Digital Age.
VACANCIES: Work with CODEC
CODEC are pleased to invite applications for three new posts within this exciting and pioneering Research Project based at St John’s College in the University of Durham. CODEC are looking for:
- Curator for the Digital Discipleship Project (full-time, Grade 6)
- Research Fellow in Digital Resources (full-time, Grade 6)
- Research Fellow in Biblical Literacy (full-time, Grade 6)
(27 Jun 2014) » More about New Jobs
NEWS: Call for Papers for Transforming Theology Stream #CNMAC14
(10 Jun 2014) » More about #CNMAC theology strand
PRESS RELEASE: £700k boost for research into faith & digital culture
A leading research centre looking at the interaction of faith and our increasingly digital society has been awarded £700,000 to continue its work into the relationship between the Church and today’s digital culture.
The funding will enable the CODEC research project at St John’s College, Durham University, to develop its exciting and important research into the impact of digital culture on both the academic study of theology and the daily life of the Church.
(20 May 2014) » More about £700k awarded
MEDIA: Dr Bex Lewis features in the Church Times
Dr Bex Lewis was interviewed for the much sought-after slot of the back page of the Church Times, as her book Raising Children in a Digital Age continues to do well.
(9 May 2014) » More about MEDIA: Dr Bex Lewis features in the Church Times
MEDIA: Dr Bex Lewis features in Daily Telegraph
Dr Bex Lewis is the focus of a half-page article in the Daily Telegraph weekend regarding her new book Raising Children in a Digital Age, insisting that “It’s a landscape with so much to offer young people if only you show them how to use it properly."
(15 Feb 2014) » More about Dr Bex Lewis features in Daily Telegraph
MEDIA: Dr Bex Lewis 'Big Guest' on Steve Wright in the Afternoon
Dr Bex Lewis chats to Steve Wright and the team about her new book Raising Children In A Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst as part of Safer Internet Day 2014.
PRESS RELEASE: Getting Creative, Getting Social: Responding to Poems for Lent” #BIGRead14, February 2014
“Lent is a journey that moves us toward the Cross”. So says one of many Pinterest images spilling through my feed today. Lent is a time when many Christians prepare for Easter with fasting, repentance and spiritual discipline, focusing some of that energy into reflecting upon the life and death of Jesus. The BIGRead14 is back for its fifth year, and inviting people to share in that discipleship journey through small groups, and in online conversations, focused around Stephen Cherry’s Barefoot Prayers, a collection of poem-prayers designed to stimulate meditative thinking.
(4 Feb 2014) » More about #BIGRead14