Scholar's top 5: Mary Hess on pastoral practice and new media

Pastoral practice is a constantly changing field, which means that digital publications are able to be much more responsive than are print books or journals. Here are five sites worth bookmarking or putting in your RSS readers.

State of Formation is a multi-authored publication that was founded by the Journal for Inter-religious Dialogue. Written by an intriguing group of younger scholars and pastoral leaders, State of Formation engages a wide variety of religious traditions, and frequently comments on challenges having to do with new media and pastoral practice.

Call&Response is a multi-authored publication focused within the Christian landscape that is published out of Duke University’s Divinity School. While this publication comments on many topics that are not directly connected to the media, religion and culture conversation, nevertheless it frequently points to recent scholarship from that conversation noting pastoral elements and implications to be found there.

GlobalVoicesOnline (search for the keyword “religion”) is a wide-open space for blogging and other forms of citizen media which report on news around the globe. While there is no central editorial voice at this site, the sheer diversity of the voices present makes it a fascinating site to visit regularly.

Odyssey Network Videos is very much not a text-oriented publication, but rather a video-blog with reporting from the US context. The site is clearly multi-faith in orientation, and not afraid to engage very current news issues, while yet maintaining a pastoral orientation.

The Jesuit Post is the most recent of these sites, begun in 2012. It is written by Jesuits (a vowed religious community within Catholic Christianity), and brings a wide-ranging but deeply grounded perspective to pastoral engagement with media culture.

Finally I would note that several “old” media publications (Tikkun, the National Catholic Reporter, Christian Century, Sojourners, and so on), regularly report on media issues with a nuanced awareness of the complexity of the media, religion and culture conversation, and with an eye towards pastoral practice.


Of course, if I were to point to books, two of the very best – and most recent – publications that offer pastoral leaders thoughtful wisdom are Elizabeth Drescher’s Tweet if You ❤ Jesus [Morehouse Publishing, 2011], and Drescher and Anderson’s Click2Save [Morehouse Publishing, 2012]