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Truth communication in times of digital abundance : a practical theological perspective


Schlag, Thomas (2019). Truth communication in times of digital abundance : a practical theological perspective. Open Theology, 5(1):420-429.

Abstract

Digital providers inundate their users with an abundance of words, as well as pictorial and iconic information that has long become almost unmanageable. In terms of religious communicative usage, there are some indications that a new, perhaps even disruptive quality is being introduced into these digital practices, particularly with regard to truth communication. For both the individual actors and their places of lived religion and religious communication, the claim to truth expressed in each case is influenced by the very dynamics of digital use. Against this background, the basic question arises of whether a practical-theological reflection in the mode of a critical observation of these digital dynamics is conceivable at all. Therefore, I examine the current dynamics of digital media use in more detail by focusing on the anthropologically and theologically relevant concept of “searching” in a fundamental sense. The question arises of whether the implied, highly intensive and independent religious search developments are actually able to represent and promise in their entirety that “truth” which can be meaningfully searched for and found according to theological understanding. From these reflections on a practical public theology, some exemplary consequences for the field of religious educational practice are subsequently pointed out. I argue that, in the sense of cultivating critical perception and interpretation competence, an awareness of the significance of this abundance of analogous expressions and behaviors should be created in concrete educational processes. But an awareness should also be created of the relevance of developing an identity and a personal relationality in the digital world, shaped by the theological idea not only of “searching,” but of “finding” and “being found.”

Abstract

Digital providers inundate their users with an abundance of words, as well as pictorial and iconic information that has long become almost unmanageable. In terms of religious communicative usage, there are some indications that a new, perhaps even disruptive quality is being introduced into these digital practices, particularly with regard to truth communication. For both the individual actors and their places of lived religion and religious communication, the claim to truth expressed in each case is influenced by the very dynamics of digital use. Against this background, the basic question arises of whether a practical-theological reflection in the mode of a critical observation of these digital dynamics is conceivable at all. Therefore, I examine the current dynamics of digital media use in more detail by focusing on the anthropologically and theologically relevant concept of “searching” in a fundamental sense. The question arises of whether the implied, highly intensive and independent religious search developments are actually able to represent and promise in their entirety that “truth” which can be meaningfully searched for and found according to theological understanding. From these reflections on a practical public theology, some exemplary consequences for the field of religious educational practice are subsequently pointed out. I argue that, in the sense of cultivating critical perception and interpretation competence, an awareness of the significance of this abundance of analogous expressions and behaviors should be created in concrete educational processes. But an awareness should also be created of the relevance of developing an identity and a personal relationality in the digital world, shaped by the theological idea not only of “searching,” but of “finding” and “being found.”

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:01 Faculty of Theology > Institute of Theology
Dewey Decimal Classification:230 Christianity & Christian theology
200 Religion
Uncontrolled Keywords:religious digital practice, public theology, practical theology, communication, truth
Language:English
Date:4 November 2019
Deposited On:26 Nov 2019 08:52
Last Modified:07 Apr 2020 07:22
Publisher:Sciendo
ISSN:2300-6579
OA Status:Gold
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2019-0033
Official URL:https://www.degruyter.com/downloadpdf/j/opth.2019.5.issue-1/opth-2019-0033/opth-2019-0033.pdf
Related URLs:http://www.degruyter.com/loi/opth (Publisher)

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