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Global Neighborhoods — Shel Israel's new book.

My friend Shel Israel dropped me a note about the overview of his upcoming book, Global Neighborhoods–How Social Media are moving power from institutions to  people.  It’s a theme near and dear to me.  In fact, I had a very interesting discussion about this with my 83 year old mother-in-law over the holidays.  The theme of our conversation was the democratization of religion. 

My thesis?  Organized religion is a retail business.  The hierarchy receives the truth wholesale from God or one of His representatives, and dishes it up retail to the masses in their places of worship.  Wrapped in the dogma and doctrine of a particular denomination or faith, the power structures of religion have managed to hold sway over the masses for thousands of years.  Minor differences in doctrine have been the excuse for wars, intolerance, and hatred for most of that time too.  So, what happens when adherents are easily able to freely discuss differing viewpoints?  How do faithful Christians react to the idea that Mary is also venerated by Muslims, for instance?  We’re soon to be in one of the biggest periods of idealogical cross-pollination between the major religions that the world has ever seen.  Moreover, it’s likely the only way some denominations can remain relevant, given the continued decline in attendance.

The influence of social media on politics is also fascinating.  Canada’s own Garth Turner, the blogging politico dooced by the Conservative Party, is a trail blazer.  Garth is building a populist movement around himself using social media to communicate with his fans.  It’s clear that the rest of the political establishment doesn’t know how to deal with this dynamo, and equally clear (at least to me) that they will have to learn. How long until the party structure disappears, replaced by populist representatives unafraid representing their constituents views without the strictures of party discipline?

Swing by Shel’s blog, and check out the overview and commentary.  Lend him your ears, your minds, and your voices. 

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