"To inspire them to realize more and more of their capacities for living meaningful lives. Because there certainly is meaning to life."
-John Coltrane on Uplifting Others

Monday, September 13, 2010

Protestant Reformation and Digital Isolation

I thought I would kill two birds with one stone. I recently posted about PLN's, and received some interesting comments. Eric's comments about the paradox of the digital age (vicarious connection while isolated) led me to rethink a few of my thoughts; I also want to acknowledge Jeff's suggestion for reading Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam. I'll try to place these ideas into the lens of what Luther and the Reformist desired.

From my understanding, Martin Luther wanted to focus people's faith on the grace and Word of God, instead of the priest as the go between. His 95 theses centered on three main points: man is justified by faith alone, every man has direct access to God, and the Bible is the sole authority. You can hear these tenets in the hymn assigned. Why then, with these isolationist ideas, did the Protestants feel compelled to create churches? If man is justified by faith alone, why does he meet with others of his faith?

This is where Luther and PLN's come parallel. Even though the Protestants believed these tenets, they knew man must have a society. Salvation may be between man and God, but man needs one another to keep the faith. I believe the same idea applies with digital media. In most instances (such as now), people sit alone, writing on blogs, hoping for a communication of sorts. Hopefully they receive this communication, but this digital revolution, like the Protestant Reformation, has not completely destroyed the need for society. I can communicate with Mozambicans through Facebook and Skype, but I also have a network of friends here with whom I have dinner and laughs. It is all about balancing the ideas of the past (church and community) with the Reformations and Revolutions of today (individual salvation and digital communication).


  1. Your comment about why Protestants still go to church reminds me of my favorite chapter in the Book of Mormon, Moroni 6. I love it because it spells out the purpose of the concept of church and exactly what a church--the institution and the members--ought to be achieving in order to fulfill its/their purpose.

    My favorite verse is verse 4: "...and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith."

  2. Thought provoking. . . I see your point about society. I guess it depends on your motivation for digital media. I don't need anyone to connect with me to use Netflix or Hulu, though facebook and gmail would be less useful.