Saturday, January 23, 2010

the pope and the internet

In times stricken by dwindling membership, dwindling income and a dwindling number of new Roman Catholic priests, the pope has urged those priests to make use of the internet ... and blog as well.

I think it might have been interesting to listen in on the conversations that preceded the public announcement. Given phenomena like the election of American president Barack Obama, it is clear that the internet can be a potent and galvanizing force.
But the rich confusions of personal connection and intimacy (no, I am not talking about priests screwing little boys) is lost in the distances the internet asserts.

I wonder if the pope figured it was just the best compromise he could come up with and if so, how sad he might have been to make such a compromise. Certainly the internet gets the word out, but its superficiality in real-life terms is everywhere apparent.

Barack Obama was swept to office by words like "hope" and "change" and perhaps the fact that he could speak in coherent sentences after eight years of enshrined malapropisms. But where are his "hope" and "change" now, a year into his presidency?

Surely the Roman Catholic word can be transmitted more widely on the internet, but will that transmission assure or even encourage much of an intimate, living, breathing faith and understanding?

Perhaps the bottom line for the pope was to have faith in his faith -- a tough nut for any proselytizer. Who has faith enough to release a cherished faith into uncherished waters? The wispy hosannahs of the internet are hardly the stuff of any substantive religious practice and yet who knows what wispy words will infuse an intimate heart? Certainly you can increase a fan base on the internet ... but are cheering fans the point of religion ... or politics either, for that matter?

Anyway, I am sitting here imagining that I can see the pope's dilemma. I just would like to have heard the arguments that led to the decision.

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