SOME FACES OF THE INTERNET CATHOLIC RELIGIOUSNESS
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The World Wide Web can be included to the subjects of interest for ethnology, not only as a phenomenon in itself which is worth studying, but also as the area where particular phenomena occur. The Internet offers a different way of pereceiving time and space, gives new quality to the concepts of community, group and communication. It also encourages consideration on status and role of an individual. Studies on Internet require re-considering some specific cultural manifestations: experience and emotions, including experiences of religious character. The author studies particular cultural phenomena as they are present in the Internet in the context of the ' Web culture'. These cultural phenomena belong to forms of contemporary Catholic religiousness. Internet brings about changes in perceiving the temporal-spatial sacred reality where revelations take place and visionaries and healers act. Internauts- the faithful and the pilgrims meet online, on the Web site of one of the centres of the Marian cult using a box of prayer intentions. The Internet favours autonomy, indepedence - individuality. Favourable conditions for them lie in the anonimity and the very act of written communication - communication of the exclusive kind (according to the concept used by the Polish folklorists Piotr Kowalski who has studied written votive offerings). Considering the contemporary online intention entries the author concludes that due to some new rhetorical and stylistic forms the statements can be defined as inclusive. The faithful are supposed to reveal, to expose their private, emotional life.This results in establishing a particular form of community - the community of emotion, whose point of reference is the reality of the sacred and Virgin Mary. The emotions ensure unity of religious experience, contributing to the power of interpersonal bonds. Though the community expresses itself in virtual reality, its model is the 'real' Church, i.e. community of the faithful. We can't say that the Web has started any revolution in the forms of religiousness, although it enables the repertoir of cultural means of expression to be richer and broader. Physical being has been replaced by a variety of graphic signs and by written text. Telling about oneself has replaced ritual gestures. Owing to its specific qualities the Web has simply shifted the emphasis put on particular elements.That is why it is more accurate to write about 'the Internet forms (faces) of Catholic religiousness' than to use the concept of 'Internet Catholic religiousenss'.
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