Sacred Sites for Global Publics: New Media Strategies for the Re-Enchantment of the Holy Land
In recent years, online audiovisual communication has become a key medium to circulate religious content. Videos have become an emergent platform for religious movements to connect far-flung publics with foundational tenets of the faith. Given religious videos’ growing popularity, we focus on the centrality of holy places and ask, how do religious video makers construct the legitimacy and centrality of devotional sites via online videos? Investigating the entire production of a religious channel on Holy Land pilgrimage, and drawing on Umberto Eco’s theory of indexicality, the study uncovered how the online mediation of holy sites is constructed as legitimate through four interlocking facets: scriptural, experiential, journalistic, and ritual. Findings shed light on contemporary Catholic discourse regarding the biblical landscape and highlight the emergent practice of religious videos to not only supplement the religious experience but also to reengage users to historically well-established foundations, in an ongoing struggle for religious prominence.