Stephen Prothero is helping world religions make their way onto Twitter this summer, one 140-character tweet at a time.
The Boston University professor of religion is treating his account, sprothero, like a microcourse, posting several tweets on each of what he identifies as the eight major world religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Daoism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and the Yoruba tradition, which Mr. Prothero calls the “neglected world religion” from West Africa.
“I liked the idea of doing the world religions in 140 characters,” Mr. Prothero said. “I thought, what a fun challenge that would be.”
Mr. Prothero is in the process of writing a book about these religions, in which he said each religion will have about 30 pages. In academe, he said, such a short space for a major religion is “scandalous,” but he’s trying to prove it can be done well, both in print and online in hundreds of characters, too.
“I’m not sure which is harder,” he wrote in a tweet today.
He said he plans to tweet at least once a day, and began yesterday with a post on Islam, which read “Islam 140: Allah told Gabriel told the prophet Muhammad (PBUH): Just 1 God, pray to Him 5x day, give alms, fast, hajj to Mecca. Submit! Ahh!”
Today, Mr. Prothero has tweeted twice on Buddhism. He’s already gained 103 followers, some of whom are his students, in little more than 24 hours. And he’s getting more economical too — his last post was only 128 characters.
“I read it and thought, oh my god, what am I going to do with the other 12 characters?” he said.
Mr. Prothero said he’s not sure if and how he’ll use Twitter in the classroom when he teaches world religion this fall, though he’s considered using the tweets on his lecture notes or handouts. —Erica R. Hendry