Thursday, November 10, 2016

Blog 5

My entry this week has to do with religious authenticity. Most religions we have in our culture are deeply rooted in history and tradition, authenticating the legitimacy of their rules and regulations when it comes to how people practice them. This notion spans a wide variety of aspects of the way people live their lives, and the internet is no different. The internet can be a very volatile and wide open space that can be exploited to fulfill any desire; so when it comes to religion, the internet can be a challenging area for religious leaders to influence the way their followers interact with it. In my opinion, because of the lack of formal religious based law, religious leaders of all religions use their culture, tradition, and apparent authority to merely influence the behavior of their followers. That being said, religious-minded people tend to treat the "rules" of their faith to dictate every aspect of their lives, including online interactions. People tend to project their beliefs online, and some even exaggerate them. The problem therein lies in accountability. When someone is online, there isn't anyone to regulate what they say or do, so it is easy for someone to be either an exaggerated version of themselves or even someone else entirely. It isn't hard for someone to take the ideas and belief system they learned from their offline interactions with religion, and use the web as an amplifier. The contemporary rise in the influence of the internet has had a tremendous impact on the offline aspects of religion. The internet and how to interact with it is something totally new to religious leaders and it is definitely changing how people interact with religion in their daily lives. I think the offline and online contexts are definitely in a blended state. It is becoming difficult to draw the line between what is okay for people involved with religion to do online, and what isn't. There seems to be a ton of overlap between the two, judging from what I've seen specifically in the online RPGs where someone can make an avatar and legitimately practice whatever religion they want without actually ever practicing in real life. But then comes the problem of who has the right to legitimize online religious activities. The case of online vs offline religious authority proves to be a challenging one.

Blog 3

My case study, the disdain of the combination of religion with politics is inherently connected to issues within the community both offline and online. Obviously through the memes provided, the connection is deep within the online community. I think this is because the internet provides an avenue for people to become disconnected with society and culture, and the rules that come with them. When someone goes online and posts something that is in line with their opinion, in this case the interdependent relationship of religion and politics, there isn’t anyone present physically to actually know the identity of the poster, therefore eliminating the threat of shaming or social consequence. Because of this, it seems people feel a sense of freedom to explore their most controversial aspects of their [personality and purvey that through the online context. When physically in presence of other people, someone who otherwise would be free to voice whatever argument they want, usually is more reserved, especially in this case. Questioning religions place in society is taboo in this culture, but under the veil of internet anonymity, nothing is taboo and the vulgarity and boldness of the masses of related memes is an indicator of that.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Blog 4 - Authority

      This week's post has to do with authority and how my topic relates to religious authority. My topic, arguing the legitimacy and appropriateness of religion's place in politics, tends to be less concerned with religious authority in terms of physical hierarchy or religious texts and their interpretation. That being said, when referring to authority in the realm of ideology and/or structure, religion's place in politics begins to be a little more relevant.
      When it comes to structure, an interesting dynamic arises in that, in the American constitution, in the first amendment, there is clearly a precedent of separation of church and state, but when you take a look at contemporary politics, religion, especially in terms of campaigns, religion seems to make a huge impression on politics. Many times a politician or hopeful politician will both use their religious affiliation to leverage their legitimacy and gain the support of people who would otherwise be a little more unbiased, and to also use the religion and beliefs of their opposition to gain an edge support wise. In my opinion, this recent development in religious interference in political discussion and propogation is a direct violation of separation of church and state, yet it seems so ingrained in our culture that it doesn't seem to be talked about all that often.
      In terms of the ideology definition of authority in religion, I think the most important aspect to focus on in terms of religion in politics is the sense of shared identity. To be more specific, the sense of shared identity is essential to any campaign for public office. In order to put together any successful campaign, it is important to align oneself with different communities of people to reach as many voters as possible. Some of the largest communities we have in America are religious, so naturally it would make sense to adjust a campaign scheme to make sure to play on religious cultural cues in order to gain the vote of that community. The alignment of a certain politicians religious identity with a community of people can be a key to creating the idea of shared identity between the targeted religious community and the political hopeful.

 Bill Lumberg
Willy Wonka
Ted Cruz

Friday, October 21, 2016

Blog 2

For this post, I will be focusing more on the lived religion aspect of my topic about the relationship between religion and politics, more specifically how the public views that relationship. My case study really doesn't focus on any one religion in particular, however in American politics, in general, Christianity seems to be the most prevalent. Although sometimes other religions can make a presence, for example, in this election year, of of the top candidates was Bernie Sanders, a Jewish man. While the Jewish faith is atypical for a presidential candidate, I think he represented a significant portion of the American population. Although my research doesn't focus on one specific group or sect outright, it tends to be people of more radical belief systems who care enough about religion and politics to create something like a meme to get there point across. The meme culture focused around my topic tends to be more on the sarcastic/satire end of the spectrum, while keeping to the notion that religion and politics don't belong together in politics due to the fact that religion is often used as a re-election technique. As I stated before, while my research of this topic isn't focused on one religion over another, most examples of religion interfering with politics deal with Christianity
and how Christianity is used in political operations.

Thursday, October 20, 2016


I plan, through my research, to explore the genre of memes depicting the disdain by the contemporary American population =, of the idea that religion and politics should be integrated together. The inclusion of religion in government and politics can be seen at all levels, and many times religion is used as a tactic by politicians to sway people into supporting them. Through this research I hope to find out such things as whether or not the left and right hold the same values regarding religion's place in politics, what the major examples of religion interfering with politics are, and how those cases are represented in meme culture, and what images are used most when these memes are created and why that would be significant. This topic interests me because the issue of religious interference in politics is a growing issue in America, despite the inclusion of  "separation of church and state" in our national constitution under the first amendment, and it can be something that people feel very strongly about., including myself.

Example 1                                                                   Example 2