It was with some trepidation back in July that I reactivated my Facebook account and created a Twitter identity. I had been thinking about doing this for some time as a way to increase my blog readership – a sort of casting wide my Apostolic net. I had been holding back out of a fear that my obsessive-compulsive nature would turn me into a social media addict. In the end, I’m glad I made the decision to re-join the social media world as blog traffic has jumped from 86 page views in June to 752 and counting in August. All the while I’ve been able to respect my personal boundaries of not becoming physically attached to my computer with the need to see every tweet as it comes in.
The catalyst to my entry into the brave new world of social media was Brandon Vogt’s book The Church and New Media: Blogging Converts, Online Activists, and Bishop’s Who Tweet. I had come across Brandon’s book via his own website, which I had stumbled upon from another blog, to which I had arrived from…. you probably understand the wayfaring workings of the web.
Vogt’s book isn’t a How To guide to spreading the truth about Catholicism on the web, but rather a compilation of short articles by Catholics on the web sharing their inspiration, methodology and experiences (both good and bad). The contributors to The Church and the New Media reads almost as a who’s who of the Catholic internet presence: Fr. Robert Barron, Jennifer Fulwiler, Marcel LeJeune, Mark Shea, Taylor Marshall, Fr. Dwight Longenecker, Scot Landry, Matt Warner, Lisa Hendey, Thomas Peters Shawn Carney, Timothy Cardinal Dolan and Seàn Cardinal O’Malley. Their stories of blogging, tweeting and podcasts are interspersed with sidebars that tell the stories of other individuals who have been touched by Catholic Evangelization in the digital world or lists of other sources for others called to the Catholic mission on the new frontiers of social media. Scot Landry, Matt Warner and Lisa Hendey also directly address how Dioceses and Parishes can use new technologies and media to recapture the lost sheep who have gone astray, bringing today’s connected generation back into contact with the Apostolic Truth of the Catholic Church.
The Church and the New Media has something to speak to all Catholics in the digital age. Whether you are a serious blogger or just trying to find your voice in the digital wilderness or a Pastor looking for new ways to engage your congregation, there are stories of how others have done it to inspire your evangelization. All that is needed is the same courage the Apostles drew on to tell the Gospel story in a land that doesn’t always want to hear it.