“Folklore is the study of beliefs that people share informally – a theology that is created by sharing.” – Robert Glen Howard
On the Monday 8 O’Clock Buzz, host Brian Standing was joined by Robert Glen Howard, folklorist, communications professor at U.W. Madison and author of Digital Jesus. His work focuses on the folklore in online religion and specifically how this has shaped Christian fundamentalism.
Howard believes that the internet is a tool which, while neither good or evil in and of itself, can be used either to broaden horizons or to limit them. On one hand, if you seek out on the web only those who agree with you, that is likely all that you’ll ever be exposed to. On the other hand, if you wish to be exposed to different opinions, they are easily available. These online channels, he argues, are causing the rise of people who don’t identify with a single religious organization, but increasingly seek peer advice on theological questions or simply build their own beliefs.
Bad or good, these trends show how the web and the informally shared folklore on it has the power to shape parts of ourselves as integral as what we believe.