Jeff Zaleski, a contributing editor for "Publishers Weekly," asks all the right questions in this pathfinding book. What challenges and obstacles does the Internet present to the world's five major religions? Is cyberspace sacred space and can religion's rituals take place on the PC screen? What role is the Net playing in the spiritual renaissance of our time? What impact will artificial intelligences have upon our concept of soul?
To answer these questions Zaleski, co-author with his wife Tracy Cochran of Transformations: Awakening to the Sacred in Ourselves, visits a variety of religious web sites including those of the Jewish Chabad-Lubavitch, the Zen Mountain Monastery, and the Catholic Information Center. Although these cyberministries capitalize on the latest technological advances, representatives of all religions interviewed repeatedly point to the limitations of the Net because of its break with the body.Although a few see this new frontier as sacred, most only think of it as "a holy tool."
Zaleski's interviews with cyberspace seers such as John Perry Barlow and Jaron Lanier offer a wealth of insights into virtual reality, dreamspace, memes, community, and death denial. What is conspicuously absent in this chorus of voices is a modern day successor to Jesuit theologian and scientist Teilhard de Chardin who envisioned an evolving spiritualization of the planet. "The Soul of Cyberspace" is a watershed work on the exciting impact of the Internet on the world's religions. But the book we all really need is the one which will point out 100 Ways to Keep Your Soul Alive in Cyberspace.