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Digital JesusThe Making of a New Christian Fundamentalist Community on the Internet$
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Robert Glenn Howard

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780814773086

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814773086.001.0001

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Networking the Apocalypse

Networking the Apocalypse

End Times Communication in Newsgroups and Email Lists, 1992 to 1995

(p.46) 3 Networking the Apocalypse
Digital Jesus

Robert Glenn Howard

NYU Press

This chapter goes back in time to document the movement as it first appeared online in a medium called “Usenet newsgroups.” When the mainstream Christians that dominated communication in this medium responded with ridicule and hostility to communications about the End Times, individuals in the movement used private email lists. Private email communication gave participants confidence that their invitations to deliberate about the End Times would be engaged appropriately because they could choose to email only those who they knew were open to deliberation. Having exhibited this interest in the public forum of the newsgroup, individuals were added to private email lists. If subsequent exchanges revealed that new participants were competent deliberators, they remained on the lists. Many generated their own lists as they responded with their own emails. In this way, small group exchanges formed around topical issues that were premised on the shared interest in the End Times. By locating others based on specific topics for deliberation, individuals created tiny online communities of the like-minded. In so doing, they began to form small communities apart from the Christians on the more broadly inclusive newsgroups.

Keywords:   Christians, Usenet newsgroups, vernacular Christian fundamentalism, End Times, email, online communities, religious movement

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