This vast new world of digitally-mediated religious practices calls for new ways of inquiring into religious practices. In particular, it calls for new scholarly tools. Religious studies and theological inquiry are not alone in confronting this shifting terrain. The digital turn is not only transforming established scholarly disciplines but also creating new fields of inquiry. One key reason for this transformation is the emergence of novel materials and sites generated by digital communication technologies. Scholars who in the past studied texts are now confronted with digital materials that fuse text, images, audio, video, and other non-textual formats. Moreover, these materials are not stored in brick-and-mortar libraries and archives but located in cyberspace, in digitally-mediated repositories. The new transdisciplinary field of digital media studies, and more specifically of digital humanities, has arisen in response to this shift. Scholars from a host of disciplines are now engaging these new media, from history, literary criticism, and anthropology to sociology, gender studies and ritual studies, to name just a few disciplines that religious studies and theology have drawn on in the recent past.
Digitally-mediated religious practices put pressure on established scholarly categories, tools, and interpretive lenses, and thereby offer an incredible opportunity to re-think cherished convictions and longstanding assumptions in a field. If for nothing else than that, digitally-mediated religious practices deserve scholarly attention. If you want to see what that might look like for the field of liturgical studies, check out my recent book @ Worship: Liturgical Practices in Digital Worlds (Routledge 2017).