Thanks to everyone who joined me for today’s Ave Maria Press webinar “Where Two or Three are Texting: Incarnation and Sacrament in a Virtual World.” Below are my slides, notes, and links to related articles. I will post the video of the webinar here as soon as it is available.
If you have any questions that I wasn’t able to address during the session, please feel free to add them to the comments and I’ll do my best to respond with an answer!
I’ll get to the bottom line first: Brandon Vogt has edited one of the most important books on Catholics in the online world — not so much because of its ruminations on the Church’s understanding of social communications (I’ll review that book on Wednesday); not because it shows how to set up a blog or Facebook page (it would quickly be out of date if it tried to to that); but because The Church and New Media: Blogging Converts, Online Activists, and Bishops Who Tweet will inspire a whole new wave of Catholic innovation, experimentation, and expansion in the digital continent.
Vogt is convinced that the Church will need to embrace new media just as she came to embrace print, radio, and television. He opens the book by posing these questions:
The world is waiting and listening in the virtual sphere. Will the Church remain silent, or will her voice be proclaimed fromthe rooftops (and the laptops)? Will she plunge the message of Christ into Facebook feeds, blog posts, podcasts, and text messages, or will she be digitally impotent?
Vogt’s leaves the answers to his contributors, a veritable Who’s Who of the Catholic online world including Fr. Robert Barron, Mark Shea, Fr. Dwight Longenecker, Lisa Hendey, and Thomas Peters, among others. Each contributor offers a reflection on some aspect of the online apostolate, from dialoguing on blogs to reaching specific audiences; creating communities to using new media in the parish.
Fr. Longenecker’s chapter on the new apologetics is especially good. Fr. Longenecker outlines his general approach to blogging on online discourse, which could be described as generous, demonstrative, and welcoming. I was really taken with this passage:
…I am not convinced that many souls are won by argument. It is famously said about apologetics that you can win an argument and lose a soul. The apologetics on my blog are woven into a much bigger picture of Catholicism. I want the reader to glimpse the power and the glory of the Catholic Church, but I also want them to glimpse the humanity and humor of being Catholic. In other words, I want them to glimpse the art of being Catholic ” not just the argument for being Catholic.
If I could, I would copy this passage and have every Catholic blogger keep it taped to their computer screen.
In fact, this is a recurring theme in the book: it’s not enough to set up a blog and start explaining why the Church is correct and everyone else is going to hell. Blogs, Facebook, Google+, Twitter — they’re all about community and relationship, and nurturing those two things is a vital component to apologetics, evangelization, and catechesis.
I’m grateful that Vogt has chosen to highlight the work of other Catholics in sidebars scattered throughout the book — and not just because I’m one of them! These sidebars serve to expand on and illustrate the concepts and stories presented in the chapters and offer another avenue for Catholics to discover the richness and possibilities for living the faith on the digital continent.
The Church and New Media is an important contribution to the ongoing conversation about how the Church utilizes these new technologies to continue its work in the world. I look forward to seeing what the “next generation” of online Catholic leaders, inspired by the book’s contributors, brings to the table.
The Church is intolerant in principle because she believes; she is tolerant in practice because she loves. The enemies of the Church are tolerant in principle because they do not believe; they are intolerant in practice because they do not love.
When Our Lord was starting the Church, so to speak, at the Last Supper, He took care to give to it the Four Marks He wished it to have. In His discourse afterwards in the Upper Room, He told the apostles He was offering eternal life to all flesh (read John xvii, 1-3) ; that the apostles themselves were His appointed witnesses and workers (John xv, 16; xv, 27); and He prayed that His disciples should be all one (John xvii, ii ; Xvii, 20-21); and that they should be made holy in the truth (John xvii, 17-19), getting their holy life from His as the branches from the Vine (John xv, 4-5).
If there is a true Church of Christ still on earth, we must expect it to show those four marks still.
– Rev. F.H. Drinkwater, Catechism Stories Part I: the Creed (1939)
On April 26, 1642, an immense crowd was gathered round the triangular gallows at Tyburn, and an elderly Welshman, who had come to be hanged, stood up in the cart to make his speech. He was Edward Morgan, a Flint-shire man who had been to school at Douai and made priest at Salamanca. He had been imprisoned in the Fleet for fourteen years, and suffered great hardships, before being brought to trial under the Parliament. He waited till the crowd was quiet, and everybody was astonished at his cool and smiling demeanour. He began with the sign of the cross, and gave out a text : ‘The Good Shepherd giveth His life for His sheep.’ He explained that he was going to be hanged simply because he was a Roman Catholic priest, and was very glad to die for the Good Shepherd who died for His flock. ‘I offer up my blood for the good of my country, and for a better understanding between the King and Parliament.’
Then he went on to preach a full sermon on the Unity of the Church, and persisted in finishing it in spite of several interruptions from the Protestant ministers. There is one God, one faith, one baptism, he said; so there must be one Church. He gave proof that the Catholic Church was the one true Church going back to the apostles, and showed that the recent sects are all too new to have any claim to be the Church of Christ. At the end he asked God to forgive all who had injured him, and also (he said) ‘my own innumerable sins.’
Then, ‘with a merry countenance,’ he told the hangman to do his duty and said: ‘I pray thee, teach me what to do, for I never was at this sport before.’
Whereupon the minister said : ‘Mr. Morgan, this is not a time to sport, nor is it a jesting matter.’
‘Sir,’ he replied, ‘I know it is no joking matter for me, but good sober earnest. But God loveth a cheerful giver, and I hope it is no offence to anyone that I go cheerfully and merrily to heaven.’
He was allowed to hang until he was dead, before the rest of the sentence was carried out.
– Rev. F.H. Drinkwater, Catechism Stories Part I: the Creed (1939)