Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Mormonism and the Internet

Mormonism and the Internet: Negotiating Religious community and Identity in the Virtual World

March 29-30, 2012 UVU Library Auditorium

The internet has transformed the way we access information and express ourselves. Without the constraints that have shackled traditional media in the past, it allows information to flow more freely and more rapidly than ever before. This has not been lost among religious institutions which are increasingly adding the web to their communication strategies. In fact, in 2007, M. Russell Ballard of the LDS Church's Council of the Twelve challenged Church members to "join the conversation by participating on the Internet to share the gospel and to explain in simple and clear terms the message of the Restoration." Church members have taken up that challenge with vigor, flooding the interent with positive messages about their religion. Likewise, the institutional Church has strategically worked to positively shape its online image. The Washington Post recently called attention to the Church's online media strategy calling it "savvy and aggressive." Clearly the internet offers benefits to the Church in proselytizing and public relations. But it also presents challenges. For an institution that values single-purpose messaging, the chaotic nature of the internet defies correlation. Furthermore, the balkanized nature of the blogosphere challenges traditional ideals of religious community, permitting numerous Mormon discourse communities. And the internet allows detractors of Mormonism the same access as it does proponents. In this conference, we will reflect on evolving concepts of Mormon identity and community in the digital age.

Schedule of Events
Wednesday, March 28th in SC 213a12:00-1:00 p.m. ~ Author Readings (sponsored by the UVU English Department)

Joanna Brooks will read from her new memoir The Book of Mormon Girl: Stories from an American Faith,which reveals what it’s like to grow up in a world where angels stand at our bedsides and ancestors know our names, where Coca-Cola is forbidden fruit and Marie Osmond is a style icon. This is a story about leaving behind the innocence of childhood belief and embracing the complications and heartbreaks that come to every adult life of faith.

Jana Riess will also read from her recently-released memoir Flunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray, and Still Loving My Neighbor, in which Riess recounts her year of attempting twelve different spiritual practices in a quest to become more saintly. Although Riess begins with great plans for success, she finds to her growing humiliation that she is failing--not just at some of the practices, but at every single one. What emerges is a funny yet vulnerable story of the quest for spiritual perfection and the reality of spiritual failure, which turns out to be a valuable practice in and of itself.

Thursday, March 29th in Library Auditorium

8:30-8:45 a.m. ~ Welcome

8:45-9:45 a.m. ~ Mormon Studies and the Internet

James Faulconer, "Professing on the Internet: What’s a Guy to Do?"
Ardis E. Parshall, "Blazing a New Trail: Doing History in the Age of the Internet"
Patrick Mason, "Mormon Blogs, Mormon Studies, and the Mormon Mind"

10:00-11:00 a.m. ~ Keynote Address

Joanna Brooks, “The Challenge of Mormon Studies for the Digital Age"

11:10-12:00 p.m. ~ Panel Discussion

James Faulconer, Ardis E. Parshall, Patrick Mason, and Joanna Brooks

12:00-1:00 p.m. ~ Break for Lunch

1:00-2:15 p.m. ~ Journeys of Faith on the Internet

John Dehlin, "Why Mormons Leave, and How the Internet is Helping"
Scott Gordon, "Fostering Faith and Countering Criticism: The Role of Apologetics in in the Information Age"
Rosemary Avance, "Seeing the Light: Mormon Conversion and Deconversion Narratives in On- and Offline Worlds"

2:30-3:45 p.m. ~ Panel Discussion

John Dehlin, Scott Gordon, and Rosemary Avance

5:30-6:45 p.m. ~ Reception for participants and invited guests

7:00-9:00 p.m. ~ Eugene England Memorial Lecture

Patrick Mason, "'Blessed Are All the Peacemakers': Toward a Mormon Theology and Ethic of Peace"

Friday, March 30th in Library Auditorium

8:30-9:00 a.m. ~ Welcome

9:00-9:50 a.m. ~ Digital Religion and the Public Face of the Church

Buddy Blankenfeld and Lyman Kirkland, "Join the Conversation: Engaging the Media and Public through LDS Newsroom"
Greg Droubay,Who Are These People?: The Story of the ‘I’m a Mormon’ Campaign

10:00-10:50 a.m. ~ Keynote

Alan Cooperman, "Insights from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life’s Survey of Mormons in America"

11:00-11:50 a.m. ~ From Blogosphere to Bloggernacle

Jana Riess, "One Voice in the Mormon Bloggernacle Choir: A Personal Journey"
Kristine Haglund, "Homemaking as Performance Art in a Gendered Babylon"

12:00-1:00 p.m. ~ Break for Lunch

1:00-1:50 p.m. ~ Avatars and Second Life: Mormon Identity and the Internet

David Charles, "Digital Religion, Convergence, and Pluralism"
Gideon Burton, "Evolving Mormon Identity in the Digital Age"
David Scott, "Seeing is Believing: The Virtual Construction of Mormon Identity and Belief in Second Life"

2:00-3:00 p.m. ~ Panel Discussion

Jana Riess, Kristine Haglund, David Charles, Gideon Burton, David Scott

For more information, contact Boyd Petersen at boyd.petersen@uvu.edu.  More info here

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