Monday, November 15, 2010

A Catholic Blogger In the Digital Continent

Update (November 17, 2010)

Another blogger's take on the USCCB press release:
This post contains a complete press release from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). I'll put that first - and then give my take on the Catholic Church, social media, and the "digital continent."

Here's what the USCCB had to say:
"Bishops Urged to Embrace Social Media in Order to Effectively Evangelize 'Digital Continent'"
USCCB News Release, 10-210, (November 15, 2010)

"BALTIMORE (November 15, 2010) — The Catholic Church faces an urgent call to evangelize the new 'digital continent' of social media, according to a presentation to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) at their annual Fall General Assembly. Bishop Ronald Herzog of Alexandria, Louisiana, a member of the USCCB Communications Committee, delivered the presentation November 15.

" 'Although social media has been around for less than 10 years, it doesn't have the makings of a fad,' said Bishop Herzog. 'We're being told that it is causing as fundamental a shift in communication patterns and behavior as the printing press did 500 years ago. And I don't think I have to remind you of what happened when the Catholic Church was slow to adapt to that new technology,' he said, referencing the Protestant Reformation.

"Bishop Herzog described the communication habits of young people today, which he noted have moved beyond email to the world of social media.

" 'If the Church is not on their mobile device, it doesn't exist,' he said. 'The Church does not have to change its teachings to reach young people, but we must deliver it to them in a new way.' He compared this outreach to evangelizing a new digital continent, and said the Church has serious challenges to overcome, noting, 'Most of us don't understand the culture.'

"Bishop Herzog said the egalitarian nature of the Internet makes it particularly challenging to the Church.

" 'Anyone can create a blog,' he noted. 'Everyone's opinion is valid. And if a question or contradiction is posted, the digital natives expect a response and something resembling a conversation. We can choose not to enter into that cultural mindset, but we do so at great peril to the Church's credibility and approachability in the minds of the natives, those who are growing up in this new culture. This is a new form of pastoral ministry.'

"Bishop Herzog cited a survey of diocesan communications personnel conducted by the USCCB that saw great variation in the use of new media, with respondents expressing a desire to learn more about it and requesting training and additional resources. The most frequently requested resources were not additional dollars but staff who are trained in its use.
"Keywords: social media, new media, Bishop Ronald Herzog, Committee on Communications, USCCB, General Assembly, November meeting, U.S. bishops"

Movable Type is Not the Work of the Devil - - -

- - - and neither is social media.

At the risk of sounding sarcastic: I think it's smart to not write off the Internet and social media as a passing fad. I also think it's smart to realize that it's not 'just like print media, only on a screen.'

Some priests, bishops, and archbishops in America are already online, on the "digital continent." The Archbishop of New York, for example, has a blog. And he knows how to use it. (October 24, 2010, October 23, 2010)

Not everybody's going to be as comfortable with the new media, of course. Just as a generation or so back not everybody was Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

Embracing New Technology, Fearing the Internet

It's good to see that the Catholic Church in America has decided to embrace the new information technology. That's hardly a surprise move, though, considering how long the Holy See's website has been around. (July 26, 2010)

The USCCB's declared position is, I think, a whole lot smarter than the sort of fearful approach taken by other groups in America.

Like the time that the Christian Coalition and the Feminist Majority joined forces - because they wanted the Federal government to decide who would get to put content on the Web; and who would get to read it. (Another War-on-Terror Blog (March 9, 2008)) They failed. But that was, in my opinion, a near-miss.

Hysterical, in my view, reactions to the 'Wicked Wicked Web' like that were an example - again in my opinion - of why emotion and reason don't play well together. I've discussed that in another blog:

"Anyone Can Create a Blog"

For Americans, this is a great era to be someone with writing skills and access to the Internet. For old-school news editors and college professors - not so much.

Some of America's traditional information gatekeepers are, in my opinion, having a terrible time adjusting to the new realities. I discussed that briefly, last week:
"...Information gatekeepers are the people in a society who determine what others are allowed to see and hear. In America, until quite recently, information gatekeepers were people like....

"...No 'vast conspiracy' involved: just a matter of folks who have a particular worldview being able to decide what 'the Masses' should hear. For our own good, of course.

"I've discussed information gatekeepers and some aspects of insularity in another blog:(November 11, 2010)

Good News - - -

I've enjoyed the freedom to publish ideas online at very little cost. This 'right to publish' doesn't imply a 'right to be read,' of course. And that's another topic.

The sort of social interaction that's possible in social networks is a huge change from traditional print media. Or maybe not so great a change. A newspaper's editorial page and 'letters to the editor' are very much like blog posts and comments - only slower and more limited in potential audience.

Social networks like Twitter, though: that's yet again another topic. (On Twitter, I'm Aluwir)

I think blogs and the writers of blogs are - scary - to old-school information gatekeepers like news editors and media publishers. The 'proper sort' are no longer able to keep folks who don't agree with them from getting published. (See "Cultural Chaos, Divisiveness, and CNN" (April 1, 2010))

Bad News - - -

That, for me, is the 'good news' part of the Information Age. The 'bad news' is that - anyone can create a blog. Anyone - provided the person has internet access and minimal communication skills.

I'm careful about what I write - and make an effort to distinguish between my opinions, assertions made by others, and statements of fact. That's one reason why I include so many citations and links in my posts. And repeat what Matthew Warner said - that I have the full authority of "some guy with a blog."

Not everybody's that careful about what they write.

- - - And the Catholic Church

As I wrote about two years ago - "My opinion doesn't count: Church teaching does." (November 3, 2008)

Bishops, archbishops, and cardinals in America are telling us what the Catholic Church teaches. I hope that more Catholics will learn that they can go online and discover what these leaders of the Church actually have to say - not what some editor wants us to think.

Not-entirely-unrelated posts:More:


Anonymous said...


Here are some Bible verses that Pres. Obama avoids:
Proverbs 19:10 (NIV): "It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury - how much worse for a slave to rule over princes!"
Also Proverbs 30:22 (NIV) which says that the earth cannot bear up under "a servant who becomes king."
And Ecclesiastes 5:2-3 (KJV) advises: "let thy words be few...a fool's voice is known by multitude of words."
Although Obama is not descended from slaves, he may feel that he's destined to become a black-slavery avenger.
Or maybe an enslaver of all free citizens!
For more on the Obamas, Google "Michelle Obama's Allah-day" and "Obama Supports Public Depravity." For more on Pelosi, Google "Madam Nancy Pelosi's Brothel District." For more on Islam, Google "Prof. Dr. F. N. Lee's ISLAM IN THE BIBLE (PDF)."

(ran into the above web bit. Alan)

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...


You could be right.

Everyone else,

The Anonymous comment reminded me of some recent posts, including:

"God Knows, I Don't: And That's Okay"
(November 14, 2010)

"Mind's Made Up About Catholicism? Don't Read This"
(November 8, 2010)

"Halloween, Emperor Palpatine, Electric Eyeballs, and Getting a Grip"
(October 29, 2010)

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Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.