Faith Online: Social media bridges the old and the new
Joseph P. Mathews (on left) and Colin Chapman participate in one of the latest Digital Formation webinars.
February 22nd, 2012
02:39 AM ET

Faith Online: Social media bridges the old and the new

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – The General Theological Seminary was founded in 1817, making it the oldest Episcopalian seminary in the country. Twitter, on the other hand, was introduced to the public in 2006, making it, by comparison, a newborn.

Colin Chapman and Joseph Mathews, the relatively young founders of Digital Formation, hope to bring those two worlds together.

As a social media consulting endeavor, Digital Formation looks to help clergy and lay church leaders work their way through the ever-changing world of social media. When Chapman and Mathews proposed using webinars and classes as the means of teaching, the leadership of the seminary embraced the idea.

Though the organization is still in its early stages, the fact that Digital Formation was so quickly embraced shows how religious organizations not only desire more exposure to Twitter, but are willing to throw out what Chapman describes as a “behind the times” attitude to get that exposure.


- Dan Merica

Filed under: Culture & Science • Episcopal • New York • Technology • United States

The pope's on Twitter? 10 unlikely tweeters
February 2nd, 2012
05:44 PM ET

The pope's on Twitter? 10 unlikely tweeters

By Doug Gross, CNN

(CNN) - Twitter says it has more than 100 million active users - a pretty impressive chunk of the online population who are, if nothing else, checking in to see what other people are sharing.

With that many folks on the six-year-old microblogging site, Twitter is always good for a few surprises.

Sure, you already know about such famous tweeters as Ashton Kutcher, Lady Gaga and Shaq. But did you expect funnyman Danny DeVito to create a photo series of his foot in interesting places?

And, sure, Democratic political strategist David Axelrod uses the site to share talking points and links. But who would have expected him to post a candid picture of President Barack Obama with "First Dog" Bo, then turn it into a not-so-subtle jab at GOP front-runner Mitt Romney?

And then, there are the Twitterers who surprise you by being there in the first place.

(Don't forget to follow the Belief Blog on Twitter @CNNBelief )

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope Benedict XVI • Technology

Study: Religious Americans more connected with community than non-religious counterparts
December 23rd, 2011
05:49 AM ET

Study: Religious Americans more connected with community than non-religious counterparts

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – People who are religiously active live more involved and connected lives, according to a Pew Research study released on Friday.

The study, titled “The civic and community engagement of religious active Americans,” painted a broad picture of religious Americans and found that involvement in religious organizations usually go hand-in-hand with participation in civic organizations and a positive outlook on their community.

“There is something unique about religious and spiritual involved people that contribute to their trust, positive outlook, involvement and engagement in the community,” said Jim Jansen, senior fellow at Pew and the leader of the study.


- Dan Merica

Filed under: Belief • Culture & Science • Technology • United States

Islamic phone features 29 Quran translations; points to Mecca
December 7th, 2011
11:24 AM ET

Islamic phone features 29 Quran translations; points to Mecca

By Moni Basu, CNN

Nwe Delhi (CNN) -
What could possibly be more popular than the latest iPhone? An Indian company is hoping that among India's Muslims, it will be the new Quran mobile, a smartphone loaded with Islamic features.

The new ENMAC Quran MQ3500 phone, launched last month in India, comes with Islam's holy book translated in 29 languages and a compass that directs users toward Mecca. Muslims bow in the direction of the holy city for prayers five times a day.

The $76 phone also features an Islamic calendar, downloaded holy books, a calculator for zakat (donation to charity) and an automatic ring silencer that can be set up for prayer times at mosques.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • India • Islam • Quran • Technology

My Faith: Why we’re doing church on Facebook tonight
At Liberty University, thousands are expected to gather on Facebook for Wednesday night services.
November 2nd, 2011
03:16 PM ET

My Faith: Why we’re doing church on Facebook tonight

Editor's note: Johnnie Moore is an author, pastor, professor and a vice president of Liberty University. He sits on the board of World Help, and is the author of Honestly: Really Living What We Say We Believe. You can keep track of him on Facebook and Twitter.

By Johnnie Moore, Special to CNN

We’re a congregation of thousands of college students. Why would we do church on Facebook? Because it’s where we are already.

For us at Liberty University, this epiphany came when we were faced with the colossal challenge this week of being a homeless congregation.

Each Wednesday, thousands of us from Liberty and our local community gather in the 10,000-seat basketball arena on our campus, or in the sanctuary of Lynchburg’s Thomas Road Baptist Church, but this week they’re both unavailable.

So my team and I - all twenty-somethings - huddled together to find a solution.

Our fix? Let’s do church on Facebook.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Church • Opinion • Technology

Short Takes: Are we turning Steve Jobs into a saint?
Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, who died this month, was published this week.
October 26th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

Short Takes: Are we turning Steve Jobs into a saint?

CNN asked four experts on religion and technology to weigh in on whether former Apple chief Steve Jobs is achieving a kind of secular sainthood. Here are their responses:

Steve Jobs for Sainthood? Absolutely.

Gary M. Laderman is chairman of Emory University’s religion department, director of the online magazine Religion Dispatches and author of "Sacred Matters."

The face. The face is everywhere now.

Steve Jobs the man is dead. But Steve Jobs the myth is only growing in stature and will only continue to grow as a cultural point of reference as an inspiring model for aspiring entrepreneurs, as a compelling success story with perplexing moral commitments and as an appealing icon whose life, death and products will, for many, cross over the line from profane to sacred.

In a USA Today review of Walter Isaacson’s new book, "Steve Jobs," the author rightly suggests that no Silicon Valley figure has attained the “mythical status” of Jobs and notes his “almost messianic zeal” for work.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Technology

October 17th, 2011
06:57 AM ET

Want to be a priest? There's an app for that

By Peter Taggart, for CNN

The Catholic Church in Ireland is going high-tech in a bid to reverse a dramatic decline in the number of priests.

An establishment viewed as a bastion of tradition is turning to a new app to encourage more "applications." The app, says the church, is "designed to promote vocations to the priesthood."

It is being hailed as a "world first" by the church in Ireland.

"The app is an original approach to assist current and future generations seeking to investigate and find information on vocations to the diocesan priesthood in Ireland," a statement issued ahead of the launch said.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Ireland • Technology

October 6th, 2011
11:10 AM ET

The Zen of Steve Jobs

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - Steve Jobs’ admirers praised him for de-cluttering the world of high-tech gadgetry. The products that made him famous, from the Macintosh computer to the iPad, exemplified minimalist design and simplicity of use, enabling what some called a Zen-like experience.

“Apple products are as defined by what they're missing as much as by what they contain,” wrote tech and pop culture columnist Jeff Yang this year in the San Francisco Chronicle.

The spiritual side of Steve Jobs

Might Jobs’ approach to innovation and design have been provoked by real-life Zen, as in Zen Buddhism?


- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Buddhism • Spirituality • Technology

The spiritual side of Steve Jobs
Apple CEO Steve Jobs at the unveiling of the iPad 2 in March 2011.
October 6th, 2011
10:52 AM ET

The spiritual side of Steve Jobs

By Mark Milian, CNN

(CNN) - It's well known that the secret to Apple's meteoric success in the world of consumer technology was the vision, leadership and creativity of Steve Jobs, the company's celebrity founder.

"Steve built a company and culture that is unlike any other in the world and we are going to stay true to that - it is in our DNA," Tim Cook, Jobs' successor, wrote in a staff memo after Jobs resigned from his post as Apple's CEO in August.

What's less talked about is what drove Jobs, who died Wednesday at 56.

Read the full story about Steve Jobs' spiritual side.
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Buddhism • Technology • Uncategorized

September 26th, 2011
04:41 PM ET

Google makes 5 Dead Sea Scrolls searchable

By Kevin Flower and Izzy Lemberg, CNN

Jerusalem (CNN) - In a perfect blending of 21st-century advances with the cutting-edge technology of an earlier age, starting this week internet users can, for the first time, use Google search and scanning technology to examine five manuscripts from the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Google and the Israel Museum unveiled the project Monday in Jerusalem with the launch of a museum website that allows users to interact with the ancient texts in a way impossible just a few years ago.

"You have the capability with high-resolution definition to look at the scrolls in a comfortable setting - to enlarge them, to magnify them, to translate them into English and to search for words, phrases or verses that you want to find on your own," said James Snyder, director of the Israel Museum. "It really allows for your own interactive research with the material."


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Israel • Technology

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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.