A host of both very old and entirely new liturgical practices have arisen in digital mediation, from the live-streaming of worship services and "pray-as-you-go" apps, to digital prayer chapels, virtual choirs and online pilgrimages. Cyberspace now even hosts communities of faith that exist entirely online. These digitally mediated liturgical practices raise challenging questions: Are worshippers in an online chapel really a community at prayer? Do avatars that receive digital bread and wine receive communion? @ Worship proposes a nuanced response to these sometimes contentious issues, rooted in familiarity with, and sustained attention to, actual online practices.
Four major thematic lines of inquiry form the structure of the book. After an introductory chapter the following chapters look at digital presence, virtual bodies, and online participation; ecclesial communities in cyberspace; digital materiality, visuality, and soundscapes; and finally the issues of sacramental mediation online. A concluding chapter brings together the insights from the previous chapters and maps a way forward for reflections on digitally mediated liturgical practices.
@ Worship is the first monograph dedicated to exploring online liturgical practices that have emerged since the introduction of Web 2.0. Bringing together the scholarly tools and insights of liturgical studies, constructive theology and digital media theories, it is vital reading for scholars of Theology and Religion with as well as Sociology and Digital Culture more generally.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Why, How, and What of Studying @ Worship 1 Virtual Bodies, Digital Presence, and Online Participation 2 Ecclesial Communities @ Worship 3 Virtual "Stuff": Materiality – Visuality – Soundscapes 4 Sacramental Bits and Bytes Conclusions
Teresa Berger is Professor of Liturgical Studies and the Thomas E. Golden Jr. Professor of Catholic Theology at Yale University, USA. She holds appointments at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music and Yale Divinity School and has been a visiting professor at the Universities of Mainz, Münster, Berlin, and Uppsala. She has written and edited a number of books on liturgical studies, helped produce a video documentary entitled Worship in Women’s Hands (2007), and also writes regularly for the liturgy blog Pray Tell.
"I recommend this book to fellow liturgical scholars and anyone interested in the trajectory of Christian worship in twenty-first century. Berger's insights can easily extend to those tasked with spiritual and leadership formation in the digital environment."
- Kyle Schiefelbein-Guerrero, Reading Religion
"Work as insightful as Berger’s should not be hidden in graduate seminars; her work is an important theoretical framework for engaging digital culture from a theological perspective, no matter the classroom."
- Katherine G. Schmidt, Molloy College
"Berger writes thoughtfully and with considerable subtlety. The integration of the practices she describes into her own life and experience make this, at times, a somewhat intimate volume, and this personal voice is an incredibly relatable one. I found it easy to place myself in the shoes of someone trying out a wide range of often less-than-ideal interactions which have the potential to intrigue and surprise both in moments of failure and in moments of success [...] The volume is to be valued for pushing liturgical studies to engage with ongoing development in digital practice, however it consistently points beyond itself and makes it clear that much more is still needed in order to fully think through the many questions raised by the ever-shifting devotional practices of contemporary Christian worship."
- Mark Porter, Universität Erfurt, Germany