If The World Ends on Saturday

The very fact I am writing about this on the Ubuntu blog is a testament to the power of media in religion today.

The hash-tag #iftheworldendsonsaturday is numero dos on Twitter right now…

…and that’s weird if you think about it.

A relatively small radio station and Christian ministry named Family Radio  has got half the world talking about whether or not May 21 is doomsday.

After a million dollar ad-campaign involving road-side billboards, bus tours and picket signs the internet took care of the rest of the hype. Spurred on by YouTube videos from Harold Camping himself, self-reporting iPhone photos and videos about doomsday billboards, plenty of blogs like this one and a whole Bible’s worth of clever doomsday Tweets everyone is talking about an obscure California preacher’s judgement day mathematics.

A few weeks ago I posted a blog about the strange relationship that religion has with media tools these days (Clairvoyant Radio Ads). That relationship just got stranger than when Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie hooked up this last week.

The whole “is-May-21-the-end-of-the-world?” thing is fascinating, not because it’s another doomsday prophecy (they’re a dime a dozen), but because everyone is talking about it – from pop-music radio stations here in Houston to CNN and folks at the local bar.

And why?

Because of a careful combination of radio, print and grassroots media hype with the added steroid of modern social media sites like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook (check out some of the buzz here).

Whether or not the world ends tomorrow is not my “concern” as it were. I have a bike ride to go on, a recital to attend and oddly enough, a sermon to prepare for Sunday morning.

However, this is just another example of the power of media, and more poignantly social media, in today’s religious landscape. To study religion today, to be religious today, is to contend and seek to understand how to navigate the spiritual worlds of YouTube, Twitter, iReporting and Facebook.

So, if you are raptured tomorrow try to Tweet about it.

Thanks.

-Ubuntu Spirit

*For more on media, religion and the interesting relationship between the two read the following Ubuntu Spirit posts – 

Everybody Wants to Be Heard

Confession Confusion

Clairvoyant Radio Ads. 

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Filed under Christianity, Religion and the Public Sphere

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