Tuesday, 25 January 2011

What do you get when faith meets modernity?

Dear reader, our blog has moved to a new address.

Do come on over (and change your bookmarks accordingly): rationalist.org.uk

In a speech yesterday, on the Vatican's annual World Communications Day, the Pope urged Catholics to "make good use of their presence in the digital world" and embrace social media platforms. It's not the first time Benedict XVI has raised the issue, but it's always a popular one with newspapers, which get to run stories on how he's endorsed Facebook, blogging and the like. When you think about it, it's all fairly obvious – from the monastic chroniclers to newspapers like the Vatican's own L'Osservatore Romano, religions have always made use of up-to-date means of publishing, so it would be a fairly unwise move for the Pope to discourage his followers from using blogs and social media. And as the lively Catholic blogosphere demonstrates, web-savvy members of his flock hardly waited for the Papal blessing before stepping into the digital age. Throw in the wider religious blogosphere, as well as the large online world of atheism/humanism, and it's clear that the debate over matters of faith (or the battle for hearts, minds and spirits, depending on how you view it) is becoming increasingly digitised.

The Pope did, however, preface his endorsement with a warning. In addition to urging Catholic social networkers to be "honest, open, responsible and respectful of others" (one for all internet users, maybe?), he suggested people heed the dangers of leading a predominantly digital existence:
"It is important always to remember that virtual contact cannot and must not take the place of direct human contact with people at every level of our lives."
Again, not the worst advice (though I imagine you'd be less responsive to the bit on how the "Gospel demands to be incarnated in the real world and linked to the real faces of our brothers and sisters").

As an aside, though, I wonder what the Pope would make of products such as Premier Christian Radio's prayer beads app for the iPhone (pictured above), sent to me by an iTunes mole this morning. If virtual contact can't replace human contact, can it replace contact with beads?
blog comments powered by Disqus