In his first book, Adam Thomas asks, can God be found in computer games? On Facebook? Is God with us when we tweet? Is God, Thomas wants to know, online?
The 28-year-old Episcopal priest answers that question with a clarion-clear "yes" in Digital Disciple: Real Christianity in a Virtual World (Abingdon). But his answer comes with a warning—the faithful must look harder and deeper to find the real spirit of God on the Internet.
"This is a completely human construction unlike anything else, and there is a tendency to forget to look for God there," Thomas says. "But you can't turn that part of your brain off when you go online." With awareness and with prayer, wired seekers can connect to "people you know only virtually on a deeper level."
Thomas was 25 when he was ordained in the Episcopal Church, one of the youngest ever to become a priest, placing him in what he calls "the vanguard of the Millennials," the first generation that grew up with the Internet and constant access to the virtual world. With Digital Disciple Thomas hopes to build understanding between Millennials and older generations while also helping all Internet users nurture their faith when visiting the virtual world.
Much of the book's marketing is online, with author "appearances" on Day1.org, EpiscopalCafe.com, and MinistryMatters.com, where Thomas is a contributor. He writes a popular blog, WhereTheWind.com, where he has posted excerpts and discussions about the book. Abingdon has placed ads with PasteMagazine.com, HearItFirst.com, and other online sites. "We also have plans to promote the book to a variety of influencer groups such as student and young clergy organizations," says Julie Dowd, marketing manager for United Methodist Publishing House. UMP has also produced a six-part video series designed to be used in a classroom setting.
Says Thomas, "I feel very blessed to be a part of this new era, but at the same time I feel cautionary. What does all this new technology mean for the way we are living as human beings? We tend to leap before we look, and it would be good to reverse that again."