I remember doing my teacher training degree in the UK – and our course was being inspected by the government.  Part of the inspection was to observe us (the student-teachers) teaching in our placements.  I was observed teaching a religion lesson in a totally secular school in South London – where religion was at best a curiosity.  Of a student body of 1200 – the RE department had one teacher!!  Religious Education was tolerated – if not exactly encouraged. The student body generally matched the official apathy of the school – with one or two exceptions.  So my job was to win hearts and minds and stimulate interest.  I decided to teach a lesson on Religion on the Internet – asking the students to find out which ‘celebrity’ had the most listings on Google.  Beckham? No (159million).  Lady Gaga? No (500million). Obama (745million) – The answer was of course Jesus (847million).

I suppose the point is a serious one.  Religious believers (and fanatics! and bigots!) are very quick at adapting new technologies to promote their messages. It is easy to identify key moments in the development of communication technology.  Ancient writings moved from tablets – to scrolls – to books due to the invention of the Codex by Romans.  But it was the Early Christians spreading the Gospels and the Bible that made the Codex popular. Then of course came the Reformation and Gutenberg’s printing press – the innovation of movable type made mass printing of leaflets, pamphlets and of course the Gutenberg Bible feasible. Jump forward a few centuries and Marconi – the inventor of long distance radio – wanted to personally introduce in 1931 the first radio broadcast of a Pope, Pius XI, announcing at the microphone: “With the help of God, who places so many mysterious forces of nature at man’s disposal, I have been able to prepare this instrument which will give to the faithful of the entire world the joy of listening to the voice of the Holy Father”  And then Thomas Doherty claimed in an oft repeated phrase that Golden Age Hollywood was “a Jewish-owned business selling Catholic theology to Protestant America.”

So I guess we shouldn’t be surprised by the proliferation of religious content (of varying quality and accuracy) on the internet.  I particularly enjoy some of the creative video clips – which are great for use in schools / assemblies  / talks or even introducing prayer. One I was sent via twitter today:

See it without the water mark at this external link

You may well have seen this already by the excellent Igniter Media (also check out their Social Media Christmas)

And finally how about this for lapsed Catholics