Friday 18 September 2009

"Religion and the Web" - BBC Radio 4, 2009-07-20

Beyond Belief is a long-standing BBC Radio 4 series, hosted by Ernie Rea, dealing with the religious interface with the everyday. Back in July it covered the internet:

The audio is available on iPlayer:

The first half of this 28-minute radio programme consists of various pro and con arguments about internet social networks, which mostly come down to "The internet isn't real!" (and therefore of little use in relationships). In particular the seminarian from Colorado seems to take the view that the internet is no good because it wasn't mentioned in the Bible, quoting a verse from John that he interprets as valuing face-to-face communication over writing letters. (Er... tell that to St Paul?)

But he misses the point. The internet is not something wholly different and "evil", it is merely an extension of previous media and means of communication. As host of The Rev Up Review podcast I contacted many people in the United States by email, instant messaging and Skype - people I am unlikely to have contacted otherwise. They would have been effectively out of my reach here in Portsmouth, UK.

Were these relationships of any less value that face-to-face ones? Perhaps. But in 2007 I flew across the Atlantic to attend a convention, and I met them in person, face-to-face. So these particular "internet" relationships are now exactly equivalent to "real life" relationships. Without the internet, however, they would almost certainly never have existed.

Listeners beyond the reach of iPlayer can download the mp3 audio from RapidShare: