The man that brought us the famous quote of the medium is the message in the 1970s, Marshall McLuhan, also is quoted as saying in a speech in the pre-Internet era that: “We become what we behold. We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us.”
It certainly seems to ring true these days. Our digital democracy, especially in recent years, has seen many of us struggle with the ethical dilemmas of social media’s dominance and the issue of screen time with our youth. And now once again facing dire images online of war and conflict — it is hard to digest what is on our screens.
This Lenten season, many have taken on the practice of fasting from the screen in addition to traditional fasting and prayer. Perhaps this year you may join me in taking on a new digital practice of exploring the world of faith and science from all the different vantage points afforded by our digital age. Much of this is due to COVID-19 pandemic, where many conferences and meetings shifted online to safely accommodate a global audience.
If you are looking for some content to begin with, here are some ideas that have recently come across my inbox….(I am still likely to find more!)
Ecological discipleship with the University of the South in Sewanee’s Center for Religion and Environment
In a series of five Tuesday evening online classes, you can learn about creation care ministry. The course will explore ways to expand creation care into what organizers say is a more integrated expression of whole church life. The course tuition is $100, but the Center for Religion and Environment is committed to ensure all those interested in enrolling can regardless of their financial circumstances. Leading the course work is Rev. Jerry Cappel, who is an ordained Episcopal priest currently serving at St. James Episcopal Church in Shelbyville, Kentucky. He also serves as the Environmental Network Coordinator for Province IV of The Episcopal Church and as staff for the Center for Religion and the Environment at the University of the South.
What is Human? A lecture at Azusa Pacific University’s Center for Research in Science
Hosting regular science and faith events on complex topics, Azusa Pacific University has opened up its content to those who were not able to attend the original webinar held in late January 2022 on the topic of what makes us human. Are we just bunches of cells or is there something more at play when taking into account Imago Dei? The keynote lecture was from Praveen Sethupathy, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and the director of the Center for Vertebrate Genomics at Cornell University. Other content from previous lectures is also available on the Center’s website.
Yale Divinity School’s Taylor Lectures
The prestigious Taylor Lecture Series that has featured major theologians over the years at Yale Divinity School held in early February this year are available for viewing on YouTube. In three lectures, Graham Ward, Regius Professor of Divinity of Oxford’s Faculty of Theology and Religion, explored the topic of “Elemental Beauty: Spiritual Formation.”
CASIRAS Seminar: Will the James Webb Telescope See God?
In this late 2021, this webinar was produced by the Center for Advanced Study in Religion and Science featuring Dr. Heidi B. Hammel, the vice president for science at AURA. AURA is a consortium that operates large astronomical observatories, including the Hubble Space Telescope, Gemini Observatory and others. Hammel works as an interdisciplinary scientist for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and she said the title of the webinar stemmed from question she had been asked in a recent interview with the BBC.
Undoubtedly, clicking around you will come across more content across a number of online channels, but let us return to McLuhan’s take on the tools we are using here to broadcast the messages of grace, faith, science, and awe-filled new awareness.
The ability of thousands to see the faith/science dialogue for themselves from venues they wouldn’t have been able to visit perhaps even pre-pandemic is powerful. In turn, the content may fuel more in-person dialogue off-line that may be difficult to quantify. If this is akin to the idea of McLuhan’s global village, count me as a resident.
Susan Barreto, Editor
Susan is an author with a long-time interest in religion and science. She currently edits Covalence, the Lutheran Alliance for Faith, Science and Technology’s online magazine. She has written articles in The Lutheran and the Zygon Center for Religion and Science newsletter. Susan is a board member for the Center for Advanced Study of Religion and Science, the supporting organization for the Zygon Center and the Zygon Journal. She also co-wrote Our Bodies Are Selves with Dr. Philip Hefner and Dr. Ann Pederson.