Wesley Wildman and Kate Stockly present a fascinating overview of new “religious technologies”. The book takes its readers on a tour through various new technologies that enhance religious experience and awareness. Below I discuss some of the central topics and make some critical remarks.

The central goal of the book is explaining how various technologies can contribute to religious practices and experiences. The technologies range from mildly intrusive (online churches, neuro‐feedback) to intrusive (brain stimulation, mind‐altering substances). Some technologies have been with us for centuries (e.g., ayahuasca‐medicine), while others are brand new (e.g., virtual reality). All technologies allow for enhancement of normal human awareness. Some allow for new experiences of spiritual entities, others for closer togetherness with fellow humans, and stilll others for increased well‐being. Although the goals or results differ, all technologies allow humans to go where normal, non‐enhanced human minds cannot go.

Most of the book consists of narratives on how new religious technologies were developed or discovered. The authors have developers or inventors explain how they came up with their idea and how they took it to the market. Some inve turned their idea into (highly) profitable startups. Some of the chapters read like transcripts of TED‐talks or sales pitches. While this increases readability and clarity, it sometimes paints an overly positive picture. The authors try to remedy this by discussing some point of criticism. For example, they discuss how a device called “Thync” was taken off the market. Overall, the authors present a very positive case for most of new technologies. The discussion on technologies that tamper with the human brain are well embedded in data from cognitive neuroscience regarding how the human brain works and processes information. For example, the authors show how neurofeedback devices allow subjects to coordinate brain waves to relieve anxiety, depression or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

A recurring theme is how new religious technologies allow for a ‘fast lane’ toward success. The authors note that religious or spiritual practice usually takes up a considerable amount of time and energy to achieve some success (a different mindset, reduced stress, happiness, etc.). Many technologies allow users to cut corners and speed up the whole process. The authors suggest that this is one of the great merits of the new technologies. They argue that experiences or changes induced by technologies are not less authentic or less reliable than older practices. The arguments serve well against unreflective, conservative views toward new religious technologies.

The overall focus is on introducing new religious technologies and arguing that they provide a safe, fast alternative (or boost to) traditional religious practices. Far less attention is given to questions regarding truth or reliability. For many practitioners across traditions, spiritual practices are a means to get into contact with a higher reality. An obvious question is whether experiences or states that are clearly artificially induced by tampering with the brain (e.g., through brain stimulation) or the brain's ecological setting (e.g., through virtual, online churches) can lead to veridical experiences or genuine contact with that higher reality. While technology does not prevent subjects from having veridical experiences, the threat of distortion or manipulation of normal information processing is lurking. Some discussion of this question would have been appropriate.