01: Although Protestants have traditionally been opposed to the use of images in worship, that prohibition may be fading with the introduction of interactive worship aids such as iPresence.
The attempt to add a visual component to worship has become prominent among Protestants ranging from the use of powerpoint presentations in megachurches to the multimedia services of “post-modern” congregations. Ipresence, produced by Integrity Media, features a set of DVD’s which are designed to “enhance the worshiper’s experience through breathtaking visuals” that promise to “set a new standard for how people experience worship.“
Most of the visuals are of nature scenes that accompany worship and praise songs. The natural visuals are somewhat surrealistic: with images of the world enveloped in a haze of gold light and photographic nature scenes morphing into oil paintings. Researcher Deborah Lubken notes that the theme of “seeing God” is prominent in praise and worship music of many churches, leading her to wonder “how does one select images to accompany direct verbal appeals for an immediate visual experience of God when visual representations of God are prohibited?“
(Source: Paper by Deborah Lubken delivered at SSSR conference)
02: Modern forms of unbelief and secularity have not received much attention among sociologists, so the recent founding of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture could be an important milestone.
The institute, based at Trinity College of Hartford, monitors public opinion and social attitudes relating to secularism and produce and archive social statistics on secular populations in the U.S. and abroad. Along with developing curriculum on the undergraduate and graduate levels on secularism and secularization, the center will serve as an ongoing forum for scholarly exchange.
Upcoming conferences will focus on secularism among Hispanic and secularism and religion in a free market.
(Source: press release; for more info, visit:http://www.trincoll.edu/secularisminstitute)