Religion Class Makes Space Online for Its Own Questioning Voices

The blogosphere is a progressive place, full of dissenting and alternative voices challenging tradition, right? In the newly developed 2013 January Term class, Bible Blogging, students found out that’s not always so.

The class, taught by Guy Nave, Luther College associate professor of religion, set out to find out what religion bloggers were talking about. They found “that most of the people who had online voices had offline religious authority. They were pastors, ministers, bishops, etc.,” Nave says. Bloggers that identified themselves as Christian were largely affirming tradition, not opening it up for discussion.

Luther College embraces faith and intellectual freedom, and vigorous debate and discussion are encouraged. So students in Nave’s class were concerned about the lack of dialogue and dissenting voice online from people like themselves. Many in the class had been raised Christian, Nave says, but now had questions about religion and the church. He says the class asked, “What’s the responsibility of those of us who consider ourselves to be Christian? To say, we are Christian, and these are the issues we have with tradition? We expect those who are outside to critique, but where is the critique from those who are inside?”

The students began to ask how they could develop their own voice with blogs that grappled with what it means to be a teenager, a college student who’s conflicted about religious views, or religious identity, or Christianity. By the end of J-term, the class had developed six blogs, each fueled by four student writers. The bloggers discussed topics that ranged from the difficulty of fitting church services into a busy schedule—and the guilt that then arises—to analysis of Bible verses with respect to environmental stewardship. Read the blogs—and maybe join in the conversation—here: