Scholar Spotlight on Oren Golan: Exploring Catholic Monastic Webcasts

Religious experiences are not what they once were. In today’s society people are able to cultivate sacred encounters online through the use of pictures, videos and livestreams. The ever-increasing use of digital media is now being used to advocate virtual acts of pilgrimage, specifically in the Catholic Church, in order to “increase visibility and highlighting the religious centrality of the Holy Land.”

Oren Golan, lecturer at Haifa University, explored the relationship between digital media and pilgrimage, focusing on the Catholic Church in the article, “Digital Pilgrimage: Exploring Catholic monastic webcasts.” Golan discussed that through the use of video, webmasters are able to spotlight the wonders of the Holy Land.

Golan believes that a key player in digital pilgrimage is the Christian Media Center. The Christian Media center is the outcome of the assimilation of the Franciscan and Pentecostal resources in order to provide videos and information regarding the Holy Land. Golan describes these groups as the “protectors and providers” of the Holy Land. Monastic webmasters operate the Christian Media Center and by doing so allow anyone with internet access to experience things they once may not have been able to. Golan described the job of webmasters as “hard work” that takes time and dedication, but very worth it.

Additionally, digital media allows the Catholic Church to cultivate evangelist agents to spread their faith. This allows for the Church to expand from its traditional ways of interaction to a way of influencing remotely. The influence of media on religion allows churches to spread their faith virtually, extend the churches digital footprint, allow for accessibility of holy sites and permits followers to partake in religious practices at any place and at any time. Overall, the presence of digital media in religion allows for sacred experiences virtually anywhere.

The article, “Digital Pilgrimage: Exploring Catholic monastic webcasts” is part of a larger project for Golan. He aims to continue his “research into webmasters and how they impact society and pilgrimage.” He wants to continue to explore, “who are the players, who are the agents and is there a cultural and social change that is going on.” He believes that his current research will be able to highlight how new media and religion is evolving. However, there is still so much to learn and it’s “too soon to tell” how further research will contribute to current religious studies.

For the link to the article, click here: