Religious authenticity online is not a static entity or fixed system. The Christian hierarchy does not have a singular leader such as the Pope with Catholicism. Different sects of Christians (Baptists, Methodist, Pentecostal, etc.) have different views on what constitutes as authenticity in their religion. What constitutes as authentic is not in the hands of religious experts, but is more so defined at a local level. For example, what I believe to be authentic is different from my Pentecostal friends because of our local environment. Context influences actions so individual authenticity is negotiated. In the Christian faith, the only presence of the offline culture that should be ever present is the Christian text (the Bible). As stated in previous blogs, the Bible is the physical embodiment of God’s word. Religious authority stems from the Bible. However, our society and culture has blended religious authenticity so it stems from both offline and online culture. For example, if you have Christian friends on Facebook, it is likely that you have seen the “Share if you are a Christian” posts. To some, this is a form of religious authenticity. They feel as if they are doing their part in spreading the message of Jesus. While the Bible does not specifically address sharing the Gospel from a computer, online culture views the Internet as a landscape for doing so. This challenges the conventional approach of physically going around the world and becoming vessels for Christ. As stated before, we see a blending narrative take place that is continually streamed from an offline context and online context. Christian culture is continually becoming a “melting pot” of offline and online contexts. For example, many churches have transitioned into streaming their church services into the online realm. This is a form of blending. As seen in these examples, authenticity is negotiated.
Friday, November 4, 2016
Every image we have explored has one thing in common: a source of authority. Christianity is predominantly a text based religion. For example, previously we explored the intersection of Christianity and politics through memes. Moses was used in the example of the Ten Commandments. The Bible teaches that God spoke to Moses, who then transcribed the Ten Commandments. In terms of authority, it is important to understand that the Bible (the Christian text) is inspired by God. 2 Timothy 3:16 states, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” So even though Christianity is text based, all authority is derived from God.
The authority referred to in these memes is The Bible. This can be explicitly seen in the two memes below. For example, the first meme on the left directly references the Bible and how Donald Trump mispronounced Second Corinthians. National Public Radio (NPR) states, “Then he moved on to cite "Two Corinthians 3:17, that's the whole ballgame. ... Is that the one you like?" Trump asked.”
The second meme on the right is satirical in nature. The meme focuses on mocking Donald Trump’s behavior and use of language. It also presumes his lack of knowledge over the Bible. For example, in previous interviews Donald Trump has refused to cite his favorite Bible verse or even his favorite book of the Bible. As seen, most of these presumptions emerge from an online discourse as most people only see what the media covers.
The framing of authority in Christianity affects how Donald Trump delivers his campaign. At many of his events he has kept a Bible in his hands. Not only is the Bible the Christian text, but Trump uses it as more of a symbol to connect with his targeted audience.
Friday, October 28, 2016
Previously we have been studying the interconnection between the offline world and the online world. There are three distinct cross-media/transmedia narratives that need to be considered to provide further foundation for a proposed argument. The first narrative is called bridging. Bridging understands that online and offline formats have completely distinct contexts, however, they are still linked. The next narrative to consider is blending. This narrative understands the offline and online formats as interconnected. This creates a seamless flow between the two. The last narrative to consider is blurring. This narrative understands the offline and online formats as integrated, which in turn, creates a new context. After analyzing the memes used in this case study, I propose that the religious Trump memes being used are structured in a blending narrative. The reasoning behind this is the seamless transition from news media to memes. Both contexts presented by news media and memes appear to be consistent with each other. For example, the “I’d like to punch that guy in the nose” meme is a potential continuation of a CNN article covering Trump’s remarks over an unruly protester at one of Trump’s rallies (http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/23/politics/donald-trump-nevada-rally-punch/). Furthermore, the Pope Francis meme is another possible continuation of a CNN article discussing the Pope’s views on the presidential election (http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/18/politics/pope-francis-trump-christian-wall/). News media are the gatekeepers of content. They control what is perceived as “newsworthy” for the general audience. Not only do they control the content, but news media also control how the content is framed. For example, CNN is considered more liberal in their values, so it only serves their interest to devalue Trump as a republican nominee. This media space informs the style and the forms of communication represented in these memes.
Friday, October 21, 2016
As stated before, this case study will focus on the intersection of Christianity and politics through memes. Donald Trump has targeted the Christian demographic throughout his campaign. For this reason, Christianity will be the main focus of the study. Before thoroughly analyzing the chosen memes for this case study, it is important to have a basic understanding of the Christian religion. Christianity professes a belief in Jesus Christ (the son of God) and his teachings. It is through this belief that a Christian (a believer in Jesus Christ) can be saved from judgment and eternal damnation. So what are these beliefs and where do they come from? A good starting point for understanding Christian beliefs is the Ten Commandments. The commandments are:
- You shall have no other gods before Me.
- You shall not make idols.
- You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
- Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
- Honor your father and your mother.
- You shall not murder.
- You shall not commit adultery.
- You shall not steal.
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
- You shall not covet.
So where did these commandments come from? Christianity teaches that a man named Moses was the recipient of these laws from God himself. Not only was Moses the recipient of these laws, but he also transcribed the first five books of the Bible (the Christian text). These law will be continually referenced throughout this case study. Further context will be provided for each meme.
The seventh commandment tells God’s people to not commit adultery. Adultery is the act of sexual intercourse between a married person and a person who is not his or her spouse. In Luke 16:18, it is stated, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” The negotiation processes presented through this meme brings forth a contradiction in Trump’s values. If Trump believes in traditional marraige (marraige between a man and woman), then he is only contradicting his Christian values because of his breaking of the seventh commandment.
During Trump’s campaign he was asked if he had asked God for forgiveness. Trump responded that he wasn’t sure he had. This presents a contradiction to Christian beliefs. 1 John 1:9 states, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”. This verse tells Christians to confess their sins. Again, Trump is contradicting Christian beliefs.
From the given examples, the Christian religion is supportive of the viewpoints presented by the Ten Commandments. This can be seen from the criticism Trump has received from these memes. Trump does not completely reflect Christian values.
Thursday, October 20, 2016
During this case study, I will explore the negotiation processes behind Christians who are vocal in their opposition to Donald Trump. I will be exploring these negotiations in the form of “memes”. A meme is a captioned photo that is based on a cultural element or social construct. During this election season, memes have been a primary source of information used in the online environment to express political opinions. This election season is arguably the most diverse in terms of the political candidate’s ideologies. Donald Trump’s campaign has targeted Christian voters in America. His beliefs and values expressed through his campaign closely resemble the values of the Christian faith. This form of religious communication has been imperative in Donald’s election as the Republican party’s nominee. However, even though he has had much success in his campaign, there seems to be a great divide between Christian voters and their views of Donald Trump. The purpose of this case study is to analyze the cause of this divide and how Christians are negotiating their vote.