In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, a collective force sprang into action. This group gathered to express their grief, to share their memories, and to discuss how to best respond to the tragedy. They sorted out who was missing and who had been found among the victims. They organized vigils, raised funds, and coordinated hospital visits to the injured.
Up until about 15 years ago, such a group would have gathered in a church or other religious space to perform all of those functions. The primary gathering node for communal coordination for the past three millennia has been religious spaces. But this particular group did not gather in a church. They gathered online—in many online locations but most prominently under a Twitter hashtag: #prayforboston.
Does our ability to come together online now make obsolete the space religion has traditionally provided for communal gathering?
Said differently, if I can #prayforboston, why would I need to pray for Boston?