FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Digital Reformation Happening Now
Tweet If You ♥ Jesus author says social media is extension
of ancient Christian practice; visits Chicago on June 2
New York, NY, May 17, 2011—The next Reformation is happening on Facebook, according to Santa Clara University professor Elizabeth Drescher, author of the new book Tweet if You ♥ Jesus: Practicing Church in the Digital Reformation.
On Thursday, June 2 at 7 pm, Drescher will speak and sign books at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, 4550 North Hermitage Avenue in Chicago. The event is free and open to the public and is sponsored by Seabury Western Theological Seminary. All Saints’ is accessible via the Brown Line El to Damen, the 145 Michigan Avenue bus to Wilson, and the Union Pacific North Line to the Ravenswood stop. Parking is available one block west of the church along Ravenswood Avenue and on surrouding streets.
In her new book, Drescher explains that social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, are both powerful tools for the practice of Christian faith and a great challenge to modern understandings of what it means to be a friend, a spiritual companion, or a member of a community. “What does it mean to ‘love your neighbor’ in a world in which a ‘friend’ might as easily be the kid from down the street you grew up with as a woman in Botswana whom you’ve never seen in person and only know in the context of Facebook…?” she asks in the book’s introduction.
Grounded in the histories of Christianity and mass communications, Tweet If You ♥ Jesus is an accessible blend of intellectual history and case studies that will help both novices and experienced church communicators sharpen their use of social media to share resources and build Christian community. “We must travel through this landscape on its own terms,” she reminds church leaders, “open throughout to the possibility that God just might be doing an entirely new thing among us—140 characters at a time.”
Drescher offers particular hope to mainline leaders, whom she says have the advantage in the Digital Reformation—if they will seize it. “The very characteristics that have made mainline Protestants so generally ineffective with broadcast media are actually assets with regard to digital social media, which highlight practices of creative improvisation, participation, and distributed authority,” she writes. “New digital communication practices provide the opportunity to share the riches of ancient and medieval Christian traditions…while also opening our churches to the diverse spiritual perspectives of many believers and seekers…”
For Episcopalians, Drescher makes the topic come alive with examples from Bishop Kirk Smith of Arizona, Bishop Andy Doyle of Texas, the Rev. Ron Pogue of Unapologetically Episcopalian the Rev. Susan Russell of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena and others.
While acknowledging that much of the mainline church is behind the social media curve, Drescher’s outlook for the ultimate success of the Digital Reformation is optimistic. “Maybe all of this technology and the change it is creating seems overwhelming,” she writes, “but at the end of the day, we’re people of the Resurrection…Our traditional belief in transformation…both calls us to and prepares us for life in this period of profound renewal in the church.”
Tweet If You ♥ Jesus: Practicing Church in the Digital Reformation
$20 paper 192 pgs 6x9 Morehouse Publishing
Drawings by Angelo Lopez
Review copies, excerpts and interviews available upon request
Elizabeth Drescher is an educator, scholar, writer and speaker on Christian spirituality, with an emphasis on the spiritual practices of ordinary believers and seekers today and in the past. She holds a PhD in Christian Spirituality from the Graduate Theological Union and an MA in Systematic Theology from Duquesne University. Dr. Drescher teaches in the undergraduate program in Religious Studies and the graduate program in Pastoral Ministry at Santa Clara University.
Dr. Drescher is a regular contributor to the highly regarded online magazine, Religion Dispatches and a well-known preacher, conference speaker, and workshop leader for churches, seminaries, colleges and universities, and religious organizations throughout the United States. Tweet If You ♥ Jesus is her first book. Visit her website at www.elizabethdrescher.net.
The new book can be ordered through Cokesbury (phone 800-672-1789 or visit www.cokesbury.com), through any member store of the Episcopal Booksellers Association, or wherever fine Christian books are sold.
Founded in 1918 and headquartered in New York City, CPI is the publisher of official worship materials, books, and music for the Episcopal Church, plus a multi-faceted publisher and supplier to the broader ecumenical marketplace. Publishing imprints include Church Publishing, Morehouse Publishing, and Seabury Books. Additional CPI divisions include Morehouse Church Supplies, a provider of church supplies and clergy shirts; and Morehouse Education Resources, which produces lectionary-based curriculum, faith formation programs, plus e-publishing resources and services.
Seabury is what's next in a seminary: Our theological education—from single classes to certificates and doctoral degrees—embodies generous Christianity and is open to the intellectually and spiritually curious. For church leaders, for seminarians and for seekers, Seabury’s innovative programs are rooted in the Episcopal tradition and presented with academic rigor. Find out what 's next at www.seabury.edu