Digital Spiritual Practice
I’m an adjunct professor at General Theological Seminary in New York City, where I teach on digital media and spiritual practice. Yet contrary to many people’s expectations I am not especially geeky when it comes to technology. Like many people I believe that digital technology is often misused in ways that make us less mindful and present to each other. When I started teaching on this subject in 2013 I had to get my first smart phone and join Facebook for the first time so that I would have some idea what I was talking about to my class. I don’t use social media on my cell phone, rarely answer it when it rings, and often go on social media “fasts.” I don’t use Twitter or Instagram. So what am I doing teaching this subject?
I believe that digital media can be used to help us connect in new, creative, and profound ways. I have used video conferencing services such as Skype and Zoom extensively for individual and group spiritual direction, centering prayer and lectio divina meetings. Those who find digital groups helpful or even preferable include contemplatives who have trouble finding a local group with which to practice; introverts who feel more comfortable meeting from their own homes; groups in churches who want to try contemplative prayer but don’t have a leader; those who for health, childcare or other reasons have difficulty leaving their homes; and those who for various reasons don’t want to be physically seen. Digital practice can be particularly suited to contemplative prayer, spiritual dialogue, and the needs of the introverts who are often drawn to spiritual practice. Facebook, email. and telephone conferencing as well as video are being used for prayer in profound and exciting ways.
I am currently writing a book on digital media and spiritual practice and will add to this website as I proceed. In the meantime, here are a few resources: