Last week I took myself off to the RSA for the day for a conference examining the relationship between religion and the internet. Details for the morning and afternoon sessions are available as is a neat pdf of the tweets around the event. The event was presented by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation and Durham University.

The morning session featured speakers Heidi Campbell, Brenda Brasher, Scott Thumma and Lorne Dawson. I didn’t learn anything new, because I’ve read most of their stuff – but hearing the discussions and recent research was a good refresher on the arguments around community and engagement with online and offline religious groups. The afternoon began with a keynote speech from @Digitalnun, otherwise known as Sr Catherine Wybourne from the community at East Hendred – “two nuns and a dog” with a reach into 119 countries via their online presence.

The last session dealt with extremism, but was contraversial. The other talks had mostly focused on Christianity, which was interesting but perhaps a narrow outlook given the mixed audience. Whilst I appreciated hearing from the speakers whose work I am using in my PhD I’d have liked to have learned how other major religions were approaching the issues around online communication. The final session encompassed Islam  – but only in terms of extremism. Comments from the audience suggested other people had noticed this imbalance too.

This didn’t detract from a worthwhile day, though; and the livestreaming and Twitter conversations opened the event up to a much wider audience than just those in the room.

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