The Center for Media, Religion and Culture is pleased to launch the Third Spaces Blog as a place to survey and reflect on contemporary mediations of religion and spirituality. We begin with a perhaps too-obvious premise that much of what we know of the “religious” is at least present in, if not actually generated in and by, the media and processes of mediation. The media landscape is rich with examples of religion and things that bear a close resemblance to religion. Film, music, gaming, television, smart phones, and social media are significant spaces where the “religious” is produced, consumed, negotiated, and remediated. As such, we are not interested in the study of religion solely in terms of the technical properties of the media and their impact on the religious experience. We look at these media as complex texts of social practice which produce their own spiritual repertoire, discursive logics, aesthetics of persuasion, and architecture of circulation. We hope this blog will become a dynamic discussion forum where research fellows of our center share examples of case studies and key findings from their research projects. We also hope to engage the larger community of scholars, religion practitioners, media professionals who are interested in the growing and creative intersections between religion and the media.
We called our blog Third Spaces as a reference to a working theoretical concept our center is developing to understand better the particularities of the lived and mediated experience of religion and spirituality today. As you will see in subsequent posts, we are interested in the ambivalent encounters of old and new forms of mediation and of religion and how the emergence of convergent spaces facilitates the creation and negotiation of religious practices and communities. We believe that to understand mediated religion today we must pay attention to the innovative ways in which religion migrates into new realms that are not always associated with the sacred.