I came across an interesting journal article last week. Titled "No more SMS from Jesus: Ubicomp, Religion and Techno-spiritual Practices", author and urban ethnographer (I think that is the right description) discusses the use of technology - more notably, mobile technologies - in religious practices.
In Finland, one of its mobile service provider offered text messages from the Saviour himself, promising to answer to any prayers you might have wanted to text to Jesus Christ. The service was shut down, but there continues to be a huge crossover between religious practices and technologies (ie The Vatican has a text messaging service and records podcasts). Is this exploiting religion and spiritual practices?
I could argue that yes, these types of "techno-spiritual" practices exploit religion and the people who follow. As a person who has grown up with religion, shouldn't I have faith and hope when I pray, instead of the instant gratification of an answer from Jesus, via text?
During the PuSh Fest, if anyone attended The Passion of Joan of Arc at the Christ Church Cathedral, you will probably remember the technical problems the show had with playing the movie. The projection was not a problem, but for some reason, the film was not playing as it should have been. It was hilarious to hear and see the orchestra start and stop due to some technical glitch.
Now, despite the strange text messages you could receive from the Good Shepard and the technical glitch, I thought that bringing technology into the church for this show was genius. It was strangely appropriate. Church acoustics can be pretty fantastic and that large organ, looming above, was effectively used. Further, theatre and church can share very similar rituals and practices. There is an altar/stage with a priest/actor performing from a script. And for the most part, a traditionally passive audience sits, watches and interprets. Joan of Arc was a great show and definitely a highlight of the Festival.