Thursday, October 10, 2013

Week 7- Focusing Observations and Looking for Trends in Lived Religion Online

This week I took a look at a couple more examples of posts that the three Facebook pages I am studying have made. With this new information I will compare and contrast my post from last week with the new examples.

From Jesus Daily:
“Our Father, which art in heaven,
Holy be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth, 
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us. 
And lead us not into temptation, 
But deliver us from evil. 
For thine is the kingdom,
The power, and the glory,
For ever and ever.

Describe God in 1 word! Click Share to encourage Friends who may have worries, fears and problems today.”

 Jesus Daily's photo.
“Like if you believe Jesus is bigger than your problems!!!”

From T.D. Jakes Ministries:
“Focus on your accomplishments, not your failures. Count your blessings. Celebrate the life you’ve been given.”
“If you are going to enjoy your relationship with God, you must start spending time with Him. Make prayer a priority.”

From Joel Osteen Ministries:
“Pressure can make or break you. The only difference between a piece of black coal and a priceless diamond is the amount of pressure it has endured.”
“Nothing you face will be too much for you. You will overcome every obstacle, outlast every challenge, and come through every difficulty better off than you were before.”

The posts made by Joel Osteen and T.D. Jakes were motivational messages that stressed the idea of never giving up in life because your breakthrough is coming. They also focused on being thankful for what you have and who watches over you, God. Like before, Joel’s posts generated more activity than T.D. Jakes’ posts because of a larger following as well as a more interactive experience between the pages creator and those who follow the page. Jesus Daily on the other hand had one post that was the Lord’s Prayer, and one post that had their trademark visual element. Jesus Daily seems to focus on the interactions and emotions they can trigger with their posts. They mostly achieve this with emotional pictures that have captions that encourage likes and comments. 

One of the primary messages I observed from the examples I chose is the message that life is hard and we are going to struggle but as long as we stay strong and trust in God we will make it through whatever tribulations we are facing. Along with that message is the idea that these trials and tribulations will make you stronger in your faith as well as a more polished human being, or as Joel Osteen put it, “a priceless diamond.” Another message that these examples communicated was the importance of prayer. Prayer allows for you to have a personal relationship with God, which should be every Christian’s desire. Prayer is also important because it allows us to intercede for others who need God’s help. 

The patterns I noticed from this week’s examples are the motivational messages that both Joel Osteen and T.D.Jakes used. Jesus Daily on the other hand stuck to its usual trend of posting pictures with captions, however they did sneak in the Lord’s Prayer which is a bit atypical of their usual posts. All three pages generated activity from their followers. The followers used these pages to show how they construct or perform religion on social media. They choose to use it as a forum for questions, prayer, and scripture. It has become a way to interact with people of like faith around the world. 

These trends and messages fell in line with those that were highlighted in last week’s post. This just goes to show that these pages have established a game plan or script to use when attempting to construct and perform religion on the social media platform of Facebook.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Week 6- Identifying Trends in the Performance and Construction of Lived Religion Online

This post will look at the common trends, strategies, and messages that the three Facebook pages, I have chosen to use, employ to talk about religion online. I will look back at the six examples discussed in my earlier posts to find these commonalities.

“Joel Osteen Ministries” and “T.D. Jakes Ministries” were similar in that they both chose to primarily use motivational messages and mini sermons to talk about Christianity. These types of posts generally caused a lot of activity as the followers replied to them asking for prayer or even just acknowledging the truthfulness of what was said. “Jesus Daily” on the other hand chose to employ more visual elements when it came to promoting Christianity. They posted emotionally charged pictures with captions that caused the followers to think about God and all the sacrifices he has made for this world. I also noticed a difference in the way these pages were run as “Joel Osteen Ministries” tended to respond to their followers on a regular basis while the other two pages limited their activity to their original posts.

The common message that is being promoted over all three pages is that no matter what situation you are in God can help you get through it. All He wants is that you come to him and ask. An excerpt from a popular scripture comes to mind that hits the nail on the head, “Ask and it shall be given…” The followers of these pages also tend to share similar stories of the struggle they face in everyday life and how God helps them get through it.

The pages are not promoting conflicting messages because they are all dedicated to promoting God and how he can change your life. They all are based on Christianity and because of this tend to attract followers of like faith that use these pages to grow in their faith through discussions and prayer requests.

The research question that I have formulated out of my observations is: When using Facebook, what strategies or trends work best when trying to frame the Christian faith on a social media platform and promote its core beliefs and values?

Lived religion online focuses on the idea that in order to be closer to God you have to develop a personal relationship with him. My research has uncovered that those who have this type of relationship with God tend to be more vocal about their opinions and beliefs, and are more apt to influence other believers. Another key trait would be that those active on these sites aren’t afraid to ask for help and prayer, nor are they afraid to give it. Lived religion is about taking action and with these findings I can focus my research in a way that allows me to really see who is using Facebook to construct and perform their religion, which in this case is Christianity.