I went to London for the day yesterday to meet up with Paul Teusner from the School of Applied Communications at RMIT University, Melbourne, whose research into Australian emerging church blogs I've been following for the last couple of years. It was great to meet him in person and to spend a good number of hours chatting about our work and lives. Paul had a camera handy to "pap" me outside Buckingham Palace but I didn't - so I had to steal this one from his online CV. If you want to see me displaying my transcribing injuries follow this link.
Paul's research explores how emerging church bloggers in Australia are constructing individual religious identities, how the Australian blogosphere networks to collectively determine emerging church identity online, and how these online constructions impact the offline identity of the Australian emerging church. His research site is here.
Paul has just been to the Association of Internet Researchers' conference in Copenhagen, "Rethinking Community, Rethinking Place," and for the first time there were a good number of researchers working on religion. Among them a few people I met at the "Religion, Media and Culture: Exploring Religion and the Sacred in a Media Age" conference in Oxford last April: Heidi Campbell, Mia Lovheim, and Tim Hutchings. Heidi recently launched a research wiki called Studying Religion and New Media. You can find the PowerPoints for Paul's papers ("Web 2.0 Rhetoric and Realities: Authority, Technorati and Religious Bloggers" and "Religious Podcasting: In Between Religious Audiences and Podcasting Communities") here and here. The paper I wrote for the Oxford conference is scheduled to be published in a book Exploring Religion and the Sacred in a Media Age mid-January.
It was great to talk with Paul about the differences between the Australian emerging church and the UK emerging church milieu, and interesting to hear more about the conservative emphases of Christianity (and politics) in Australia. It seems like the OZ emerging church milieu is more theologically conservative and often prefers to articulate its identity in the language of mission and missional to distinguish it from the US emerging church milieu and particularly Emergent Village. Paul met Pete Rollins a while back in Melbourne and it was great to hear a bit about reactions to what Pete and ikon are about. Once we got bored of our theses and moaning about the inner workings of postgrad life, we chatted about Neighbours (of course), horror movies and zombies, Simon Pegg, Brighton, and the pains of not really knowing where we're going to fit when we've submitted. We'll see, eh?