The new landscape of the religion blogosphere

Blogs have given occasion to a whole new set of conversations about religion in public life. They represent a tremendous opportunity for publication, discussion, cross-fertilization, and critique of a kind never seen before. In principle, at least, the Internet offers an opportunity to break down old barriers and engender new communities. While the promise is vast, the actuality is only what those taking part happen to make of it.

This report surveys nearly 100 of the most influential blogs that contribute to an online discussion about religion in the public sphere and the academy. It places this religion blogosphere in the context of the blogosphere as a whole, maps out its contours, and presents the voices of some of the bloggers themselves. For those new to the world of blogs, there is an overview of what blogging is and represents (section 1). The already-initiated can proceed directly to the in-depth analyses of academic blogging (section 2), where religion blogs stand now, and where they may go in the future (sections 3 and 4).

The purpose at hand is to foster a more self-reflective, collaborative, and mutually-aware religion blogosphere. Ideally, this report will spark discussion among religion bloggers that will take their work further, while also inviting new voices from outside existing networks to join in and take part.

Contents

1. Why bother with blogs?
2. Blogging and academia
3. The shape of the religion blogosphere
4. Religion bloggers on blogging
Appendix I: Bibliography
Appendix II: Religion blogs

Acknowledgments

Published in February 2010, this report was principally researched and written by Nathan Schneider, with the exception of section 2, written by Ruth Braunstein. Productive feedback on earlier drafts was generously provided by Sarah Posner, John A. Schmalzbauer, Diane Winston, and Angela R. Zito, and well as by various members of The Immanent Frame’s editorial team, including Laura Duane, Charles Gelman, Nicole Greenfield, Jessica Polebaum, and Jonathan VanAntwerpen.

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