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The Internet and the Madonna: Religious Visionary Experience on the Web Hardcover – Nov 15 2004


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 1 edition (March 25 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226021505
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226021508
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 590 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #81,601 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

From Publishers Weekly

Apolito, a cultural anthropologist who has previously studied Marian apparitions in a local context, investigates how these experiences are transformed by the Web and other information technologies. Noting the correlation between easy media access and reports of apparitions, Apolito sees "a spectacular effect of visionary affirmation" in which "the virtual network has offered a great opportunity to reinforce the global network of visionaries." Instead of being isolated by their experiences or beliefs, devotees receive encouragement as "a flood of daily visions... washes over the visionaries and worshipers like a special network of television stations constantly broadcasting." In the Web's horizontal architecture, "everything is true to the degree that it is present," with the result that "the first victim of the Internet is precisely the traditional institutional control" previously exercised by Church authorities. Although Apolito's analytical passages can be abstruse, written in a postmodern inflection dense with metaphor, his reportage is crisp and balanced, and his examples have a compelling power of their own that connects beyond the book's academic focus. He supplies enough quirky quotes and anecdotes to convey the curious flavor of this virtual community without breaking essential sympathy with his subjects. (Mar.)
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From the Inside Flap

In 1994, a devout Catholic woman from Vermont began having religious visions and hearing the voice of the Virgin Mary. To spread word about her mystical experiences, she turned to the Internet. As Paolo Apolito records here, she is only one of many people who use the Web as a tool of religious devotion. Every day, thousands of Catholics—from Italy and Latin America to the United States and Bosnia—use the Internet to describe and celebrate apparitions of Mary, to exchange relics and advice in chat rooms, to make pilgrimages to religious Web sites, and to practice the rites of their faith online.
But how has this potent new mix of technology and religiosity changed the way Catholics view their faith? And what challenges do the autonomous qualities of the Internet pose to the broader authority of Catholicism? Does the democratic nature of access to digital technologies constitute a return to a more archaic and mystical form of Catholicism that predates the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council?
In working through these questions, Apolito considers visions of Mary on the Web over the past two decades, revealing a great deal about religion as it is now experienced through new information technologies. The Internet, he explains, has made possible a decentralized community of the devoted, even as it has absorbed God into the shifts and complexities of electronic circuitry. And this profound development in religious life will only accelerate as use of the Internet spreads around the world.
An indispensable guide to the future of Catholicism, The Internet and the Madonna offers a compelling glimpse into the spiritual life of the connected soul.

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