Friday, October 18, 2013

“And the Gods land again and again …” : Forecasting the future within new religious UFO movements on the Internet (Sep 23, 2003)

The Internet has become a rich field of varied representations of religious movements in its own right. Alongside the diverse websites of larger religious movements, there is also a huge Internet presence from individuals that see themselves as religious. This is an innovation due to the fact that it is now possible and relatively easy to create an international Internet presence without great expense. Technical innovations and special interaction processes pervade these religious representations and even impact the content of websites on the World Wide Web. This dissertation considers two different groups in the context of the Internet and examines their forecasting of the future: The Ashtar Command Movement (Ashtar-Command-Bewegung) and the FIGU Community (FIGU-Gemeinschaft). These groups are presented in very different ways on the Internet: The Ashtar Command Movement appears as a network of many diverse individual websites that vary greatly in form and content. In contrast, the websites of the FIGU Community represent the image that a highly structured community seeks to portray. Common to both groups is the belief that extraterrestrials are of central relevance to the history of mankind and that they will also have an important role in the future. In investigating both groups it was necessary to first consider some particular problems connected with the Internet, such as data collection, ways of communication, and manipulation of data. Using this foundation, it was then possible to identify and analyze websites that deal with forecasting the future and extraterrestrials. This identification process was necessary to describe the web background of the Asthar Command Movement and FIGU Community websites and to classify, for example, some important markers concerning beliefs of progression and degression. It became clear that many new religious movements on the Internet consider extraterrestrials as a real and serious matter. To explore the websites of the Ashtar Command Movement in terms of forecasting the future it was necessary to classify this dynamic movement using structural characteristics in order to narrow down data. The analysis of both movements in terms of forecasting the future shows that there are different forms of forecasting and most of them use different topoi that stem from the European history of religion. Scenarios of degression mostly prevail within the FIGU Community while scenarios of progression for mankind exist in the Ashtar Command Movement. Extraterrestrials generally have a catalytic function in both scenarios. On the methodological side, this dissertation enters new territory concerning ways to explore religious movements in many respects. Some new methods were developed to collect and analyze data from new religious movements on the Internet. These methods take account of the technical form and the content of the websites. Above all, however, it was also necessary to create new ways of describing dynamic religious movements on the Internet. These methods are not only building blocks for analyzing new religious movements on the Internet; they are also of major significance for general discussions within the science of religion.
Download the book: here(only german)
Source: Gernot Meier