Sunday, July 31, 2011

Catholic bloggers, this one's for you!

Fellow Catholic bloggers: If you have ever thought of giving up your blog in frustration*, there are some pretty important people who think you should keep going. Like, oh, these two men:

Blessed John Paul II
The Internet causes billions of images to appear on millions of computer monitors around the planet. From this galaxy of sight and sound will the face of Christ emerge and the voice of Christ be heard? For it is only when his face is seen and his voice heard that the world will know the glad tidings of our redemption. This is the purpose of evangelization. And this is what will make the Internet a genuinely human space, for if there is no room for Christ, there is no room for man. --  Message for the 36th World Communications Day (2002)

Pope Benedict XVI
Without fear we must set sail on the digital sea facing into the deep with the same passion that has governed the ship of the Church for two thousand years. Rather than for, albeit necessary, technical resources, we want to qualify ourselves by living in the digital world with a believer’s heart, helping to give a soul to the Internet’s incessant flow of communication. (2010)
Is that enough to keep you blogging? I thought so! And the wonderful Brandon Vogt has published a new book just for us, which will help us build upon what our beloved popes (and other great Catholics) have said:

The "New Media" is all the social networking stuff we use now, such as blogs, facebook, podcasts, YouTube, mobile media, Twitter, interactive websites, etc., and The Church and New Media features chapters by many New Media innovators, each tackling a different aspect of how best to proclaim Christ's truth across the digital continent.

Some of my favorite chapters in the book:

Fr. Robert Barron, priest and intellectual, discusses the "Digital Dialogue With the Unchurched". I need to watch his YouTube videos from beginning to end, to learn the basics from this master of reasoned debate. Among other things, Fr. Barron describes in his chapter what he calls "the four YouTube Heresies":

The Meaning of the Word "God"
Biblical Interpretation
Religion and Violence

As someone who has found all four "heresies" in the comment boxes of my own blog, I found myself nodding in agreement as he discussed each one, particularly Scientism. I'm flying by the seat of my pants most of the time, but Fr. Barron is a true and learned philosopher. Some have described the Bubble comboxes as a "battlefield", but what happens on this blog is nothing compared to the resistance, hostility and attack that Fr. Barron encounters. And yet, he responds in charity and truth, with logic and clarity, every time. I want to be like him when I grow up.

Jen Fulwiler's chapter was another favorite, a) because I adore her, and b) because her story is a the quintessential tale of conversion via the New Media.This influential woman of God would not be Catholic today if it were not for her encounter with Catholic blogs. Let's be honest: Catholic blogs and websites may be the only places most folks will encounter authentic Catholicism and not simply the "mainstream" media's caricature if it.

A personal anecdote which illustrates the point: One of our regular commenters, a high school senior named Chelsea, lives in what she has described as her "lovely little liberal bubble", where she has never encountered anyone in her real life who is pro-life or unashamedly Catholic. She came to my blog after seeing a small link on a liberal blog that intrigued her: A liberal person had become an orthodox Catholic. As she puts it: "And I clicked on it, then another, then another." She ultimately landed in the Little Catholic Bubble, where she encountered Catholic people engaging in reasonable discussions who were not "apologetic" about being Catholic.

In her words:
Through this, I have learned just about the last thing that you would expect a Quaker girl from Jersey to learn about and respect: The Catholic Church and its ideas. And you know what? I understand it more now, and I honestly do like some -- not quite all -- but some of the ideas.
Non-Catholics need not worry, as Chelsea would be the first to tell you that she is not converting. ;) But how gratifying to know that by encountering faithful Catholics through some easy blog clicks, Chelsea has been able to get a clearer, more positive picture of the Catholic Church. Remember, bloggers: You never know who's reading and how they're being affected by your words.

Anyway, there is so much more to Vogt's book, and if I had room, I'd go through each chapter. (For example, I appreciated the frank discussion of a pet peeve of mine: all the horrible and ineffective parish websites out there! Parishes, get on board the New Media train! You don't want to lose people when they stumble across your ugly, cumbersome site! And on a high note, I was so impressed to read how Texas A&M's Catholic Center has used New Media to become the largest campus ministry in the nation! Lauren and Lisa, I know you are proud of your fellow Catholic Aggies!)

The complete list of the featured contributors and topics is as follows:

Cardinal Sean O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap. with the book's Foreword
Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan with the book's Afterword
Brandon Vogt on “the digital continent” and New Media’s benefits and dangers
Fr. Robert Barron on engaging the secular online world
Jennifer Fulwiler on blogging her way from atheism to Catholicism
Marcel LeJeune on using New Media to connect young adults with the Church
Mark Shea on the benefits and perils of blogging
Taylor Marshall on using New Media to unwrap ancient truths
Fr. Dwight Longenecker on ecumenical dialogue through New Media
Scot Landry on New Media in the diocese
Matt Warner on New Media in the parish
Lisa Hendey on growing online community
Thomas Peters on faithful online activism
Shawn Carney on how the world’s largest pro-life movement was built using New Media

Lest you think anyone is out to make a buck here, 100% of the royalties from the book will be used to establish school computer labs and computer literacy training throughout the Archdiocese of Mombasa, Kenya. So even in buying this excellent book, you are helping your brothers and sisters in Christ in the developing world.

And please, even if you don't buy the book, be sure to check out the amazing list of resources designed to help every Catholic (including priests and parishes) navigate the New Media, here. In fact, the entire website is worth your bookmark!

So, dear bloggers, when your family or friends gently tease you for the time you dedicate to your blog (what, that only happens to me?), please remember (and remind them!) that your efforts are fully supported and encouraged by Mother Church!

(Well, so long as your efforts are balanced, and so long as you are not addicted, which is another topic in the book… ha ha ha….)

Happy blogging!

*This happens to me, oh, about once a week!



  1. This is great. And I, too, have my moments. I actually had one about 8 months ago that resulted in my hiatus from blogging for a bit before I realized I had grown to love it so much that I had to do it some more. :)

    Thanks for this post...I need to read that book.

  2. It surprises me how much "garbage" is also out there on the Catholic Church, which not only justifies the need for MORE true Catholic blogs and resources, but when we find these, we need to let one another know and comment on those posts when appropriate.


  3. Amen!! And, yes, I feel the weight of those laments about giving up the blog. Especially because I am prone to spiritual pride...oh, from time to time. This is needed balm; thank you for the recommendation, Leila. Fr. Robt Barron? A little bird told me he might make a trip to Phx this spring. Very excited for the Sept. release of his series.

  4. My hats off to you bloggers. I donot have the courage it would take to be a blogger. (so i just try to be a good commentor eh)
    I am a kid (survivor, victim) of the post Vatican II, misinformed generation. The Good Lord guided me to books and resources on the interenet, and with the assistance of a credit card and the postal system, informative and helpful books arrived on my door step. Keep on blogging and sowing those mustard seeds. you will see the fruit of them in Heaven :D

  5. While I am still, as C. S. Lewis would put it, very much hanging around in the hall of Christianity, and have not yet chosen a door to go through, that I have found myself were I am in terms of belief is to a great extent due to reading religious, and mainly Catholic, bloggers. Ironically, this started when I was a member of an atheist group on Facebook, where people used to link to various religious websites and blogs to mock them. This meant that I was exposed to ideas I had never previously encountered, having been raised atheist. I found many of these bloggers urging those outside of Christianity just to try praying. So I did... Much reading, thinking, debating and arguing followed, and still follows, but somewhere along the line, I suddenly realised that I believed that Jesus was the son of God. (Though I'm still struggling to work out my direction and my philosophical underpinnings...)

    Also, reading Catholic bloggers writing so vehemently about the rosary made me decide to learn to pray it - and I don't know how I would have got through my university exams without it.

  6. Lest you think anyone is out to make a buck here, 100% of the royalties from the book will be used to establish school computer labs and computer literacy training throughout the Archdiocese of Mombasa, Kenya.

    Oh, wow, I did not know that! I'll have to purchase a copy!

  7. I didn't know that about the royalties, either! Thanks for pointing that out! The book has been in my shopping cart for a few weeks now... Oh how my list of books to read grows!

    Can I say that I'm slightly encouraged that you get frustrated with your blog once a week?! It gives me hope. I always wonder how in the world you do it!

    Oh, and I love those you-tube heresies videos. He is amazing! What a ministry!

  8. Oh, Leila, Leila, Leila....thank you. We need posts like this. It's so easy to get down after rough times in the combox...thank you!

  9. I can't wait to get my hands on this book - and get a copy for my pastor, who will love it... thanks for once again keeping us abreast of what's going on out there!
    And thank you for admitting to your own discouragement as a Catholic blogger - sometimes I feel like it's just me :)

  10. This is timely. Although I am much more of a commenter than a blogger, I often post articles and other "Catholic" things on facebook...which sparks debate (and animosity). I recently deactivated my account in order to spend time away and pray about just how God wants me to spread the thinking process goes something like this: Should I keep my mouth shut and just always be kind and loving towards everyone? Or should I post what I feel should be shared and understood by the masses, even those who believe very different things about the world and God than me?

    Either way, I think this time away from that social network is a good way to reflect and focus on other more eminent duties.

    Oh yeah...I want to be like you when I grow up, you want to be like Fr Robert Barron...we all have our goals :)

  11. It's a tough one because there's no shortage of infighting. agruing and nonsense among Catholics ourselves, including among leading writers online which is all the more reason for producing useful, uplifting content.

    I say this as a convert, a former Protestant minister, who admits to having been naive about what unity in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church would look like. Please, I am not, definitely not being negative rather I am affirming that yes, yes we need solid, uplifting content produced by Catholics who love Christ and his Church and have a heart for souls, all souls more than merely being "right."

    God bless,

  12. Thank you so much Leila this was a wonderful post to read right now. I just started my own blog and needed a reminder that yes this is a noble ambition to follow and that I can truly use it for the Glory of God. It is also great to remember that I can still continue my passion of ministering to people even as a stay at home mom just changing the venue to the blogger sphere.

  13. I just had to come out of the woodwork and say that I (and several other women I know) regularly read several Catholic women's blogs (none of us are Catholic) to get real-life info/stories/anecdotes about NFP. In my very liberal California town there is a growing number of health-conscious women who do not want to risk taking the Pill and are looking for more natural ways to understand and monitor their fertility. Of course "official" information is out there, but it also great to read about women who are practicing NFP. Thanks so much to all the Catholic ladies who so generously share this information!


  14. Okay, I totally have to comment. While he's not a contributor, my husband is quoted in the book.
    He's been making a name for himself in the world of Technology and Catechesis.

    So proud of him! :)

  15. He is on page 144/145, Jonathan F. Sullivan.

  16. I have heard about this book, but didn't realize the royalties were going to help a school in Kenya. I will definitely be buying it. Thanks!

  17. Thanks for the encouragement. My brother is a deacon who has a great, orthodox Catholic blog called

  18. Wow . Thanks for this post. I have definitely had my moments and been so discouraged with some of the online rhetoric I've almost unplugged several times. But the Lord supplies the grace and I keep blogging..plugging away & trusting He'll use my small efforts..
    Blessings and +PAX

  19. All I can say to Chelsea is this: you never know what might happen. A young Quaker who converts to Catholicism might be about as rare a thing as you'll ever see, but I'm a living example. It does and can happen!


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