Display and performance are "fundamental to the process of constructing human reality"--that visible religion plays an active cultural role marking boundaries for the formation and re-formation of identity. -- Sally M. Promey, "the Public Display of Religion" in The visual Culture of American Religions pp. 27-48.
The iphone image (shown right) displays the numerous religious apps available to users.
A March 6, 2011 keyword search on Google.com for religious images generated the following:
- Islam - 49,000,000 results in .16 seconds
- Judaism - 6,360,000 results in .25 seconds
- Christianity - 18,400,000 results in .20 seconds
- Hinduism - 2,250,000 in .26 seconds
- Buddhism - 6,070,000 results in .21 seconds
- Atheism - 1,690,000 results in .30 seconds
- New Age - 535,000,000 results in .20 seconds
- Religion - 275,000,000 results in .15 seconds
What do these numbers mean? Is religion really on the rise or is it just our perception of religion that is on the rise?
To stimulate discussion, I give you three insightful quotes from Marshall McLuhan.
The loss of individual and personal meaning via the electronic media ensures a corresponding and reciprocal violence from those so deprived of their identities; for violence, whether spiritual or physical, is a quest for identity and the meaningful. The less identity, the more violence. -- Marshall McLuhan, "Violence and the Media," Canadian Forum, 1976"
The eighties will see a great swing from the military towards the temple bureaucracy, from the outer conquest of space to the inner conquest of spirit. Holy wars will occur --an extreme example of hardware shifting to software and spiritual values. -- Marshall McLuhan, "Living at the Speed of Light," Maclean's magazine, 1980
Many people simply resort instantly to the occult, to ESP, and every form of hidden awareness in answer to this new surround of electric consciousness. And so we live, in the vulgar sense, in an extremely religious age that, in the popular notion at least, is probably the most religious that has ever existed. We are already there. -- Marshall McLuhan, "Electric Consciousness and the Church," interview by Herbert Hoskins. The Listener 1970
Has this increase of religion's presence in the public sphere exacerbated religious prejudice or alleviated it? Is our religious mosaic fostering an atmosphere of tolerance or fear? Are religious identities threatened by the increase of religious ideas in the public sphere? Are secular authorities threatened by this perceived increase of religion in the public sphere?