Thursday, April 26, 2012

Phaith: The Ladies of the Book

The April issue of Phaith has been out for a while, and with it my column; this month on evangelization in the digital age, featuring my virtual book club.

About a year ago Pope Benedict issued Truth, Proclamation and Authenticity of Life in the Digital Age (on the feast of St. Francis de Sales in 2011). He recognized the possibility of building networks of relationships that strengthen our faith in the digital domain and encouraged integrity in our interactions there.  That what existed in the virtual world was "an integral part of human life." Pope Benedict goes on to say, "The web is contributing to the development of new and more complex intellectual and spiritual horizons, new forms of shared awareness." That well characterizes The Ladies of the Book, in my opinion!

I had a small box on the page where I could suggest more resources - and I had to admit it was difficult to select just a half dozen places to showcase for an audience that includes all of Philadelphia's Catholics: young, old, veteran Tweeters and those still struggling with email.  Father Z's WDTPRS and The Deacon's Bench are popular Catholic stops on the interwebs, but were not even on my short list.  At their best both sites can be catechetical and informative on hot topics, but rarely does conversation at either spot rise toward something that sustains my faith, and at their worst, they can be an occasion of sin for me.  The community at People for Others does a far better job of building up the Body of Christ, in my opinion.  The people who come to comment do not always agree, but the topics posted there encourage a focus on our own practices — not on a critique of others' practices and faith —  and help me dig deeply into how I find God, and how God find me.  PFOers pray for each other, seek to build up each other's faith, and share their helpful perspectives.

Herewith, my suggestions of places to visit where the Catholic faith is joyfully proclaimed and the faith of the Church is built up, not torn down.  Where else would you send people to have their faith fed — Catholic or otherwise?
  • Busted Halo, online magazine for young Catholics
  • The Jesuit Post, compelling and edgy writing on faith by a group of young Jesuits
  • People for Others, blogger Fr. Paul Campbell, S.J. hosts an ongoing conversation about finding God in all things 
  • @Virtual_Abbey, praying the Liturgy of the Hours on Twitter daily 

"The Ladies of the Book meet virtually, hanging out online for an hour once a month talking about what we’ve read, our lives and God. 
The dozen of us have never all met in person, and perhaps never will. Some of us know each other IRL (in real life), others met through our online blogs or on were introduced by mutual friends on Facebook. We are Catholics by birth and by conversion, evangelical Protestants and staid Presbyterians. We are grandmothers, mothers and daughters; students and teachers; lay women and ministers. And we live in five states scattered across three time zones. Despite our differences we share an abiding joy in our faith in God, a deep yearning to grow closer to God in prayer and a call to proclaim the Gospel abroad, whether that means teaching a religious education class, proclaiming the Scriptures in the liturgy — or writing a terrific post on Facebook. 
'No speech, no word, no voice is heard, yet their span extends through all the earth, their words to the utmost bounds of the world.' proclaims Psalm 19. The ancient psalmist surely did not have the internet in mind, but every time I hear this psalm I think of the blogs I read that span the earth, the people whose voices I’ve never heard, but whose words of wisdom and hope have reached out across vast distances to speak of God’s glory."

Read the rest here...

Note:  Robin (the unnamed Presbyterian) objected to being characterized as "staid", though I meant it in its older sense of steadfast — "know where you stand and stand there" — rather than sedate or unadventurous.  I wish to state unconditionally (having met Robin incarnate as well as virtually), she is not sedate or unadventurous.

1 comment:

  1. From a fellow PFOer, and on behalf of Paul, thank you for the gracious mention! Your online book club sounds like another great example of virtual community, but I admit it would be fun to meet you IRL.