Brandon Vogt’s got everybody talking about how new media can serve as a tool for evangelization, catechesis, and inspiration. His book, The Church and the New Media, is a conversation featuring the voices of various online personalities who bring diverse perspectives to the discussion of how the rapid changes in media and technology provide a golden opportunity for the Church.
The authors who have contributed to the book discuss the impact of new media on the individual, the parish, the diocesan, and even a global level, with a wealth of practical recommendations and suggestions for online resources included in each chapter.
The book starts with a discussion of Catholic blogging and the various forms it may take. We may associate faith-based blogging with apologetics, but Fr. Dwight Longenecker argues, “I am not convinced that many souls are won by argument…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.” Jennifer Fulwiler echoes this idea in the story of her conversion when she writes, “What impacted me the most…was simply getting a glimpse into Catholic life.” These and other stories in the book point to the need for us to remember that the Internet is an open community where anyone may drop by. Honesty, grace, and charity should prevail in online interactions – and you can never know who might be reading without ever leaving a comment.
Later chapters include a very thorough discussion by Matthew Warner on the role of new media in the parish – this chapter alone is worth the price of the book, as it’s perfect preparation for a parish council meeting to discuss the need for a better website. There’s also a fascinating overview of the many innovative ways in which the Archdiocese of Boston has reached out to the greater community through every form of media imaginable – podcasting, radio, Internet, television, Facebook, Twitter…the list goes on.
Vogt concludes with a frank examination of the many challenges that our constantly-connected society faces – greater narcissism, superficial and relativistic conversations, the difficulty of putting down the smartphones and making time for contemplative prayer. His positive suggestions and outlook are complemented by Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who reminds us that “the Church’s major challenge today is not that of educating her members about the real dangers of new technology – these are now self-evident – but rather of choosing to use it for the good, and learning to use it well. My hope and expectation is that this book will give the Church courage and wisdom to embrace New Media as one of the premier gifts of God to evangelists of our day.”
This book would appeal to readers on all points of the technology-using spectrum, from seasoned bloggers looking for new resources to folks who just opened a Facebook account and aren’t sure what to do next. It should be required reading for parish priests who want to engage their parishioners beyond just weekend Mass and to take advantage of truly building up the Church. And because 100% of the royalties from the book will be used to establish school computer labs throughout the Archdiocese of Mombasa, Kenya, you’re making a difference the moment you choose to buy a copy – or three.
You can purchase this book here.
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