The Digital Continent - Our New Mission

is is an article I've been working on for quite some time. It seemed coincidental that the Pope would talk about this same subject. The decision to pursue a Computer Science degree in conjunction with my Masters in Divinity for Ordination takes a little explaining. It is my hope to stimulate minds as well as further discern the possibilities of my decision to seek this focus as a Capuchin friar. Enjoy. -V

For years the computer and the Web have provided more than just a tool or a modern means of communication. Technology now allows us to exist in another space so to speak; it allows us to be in a new type of universe. Similar to the advent of cheap printing during the Age of Enlightenment, the use of computers and the Web have created a technological revolution.

Today we find ourselves in the midst of a new awakening: the Digital Revolution. We can see changes in the way people communicate, the configuration of the economy and power structures, and how we express ideas. While the Church now looks to take advantage of this new techonology, there are still many questions that need to be asked about how far the Church is willing to get involved with the world of Cyberspace.

The Church has responded with enthusiasm and wariness. Much like the Pope's recent address regarding the use of the Web, the conversation usually couples the advantages of the Web with some sort of caveat. Fart too often I hear the discussion on the Church and Technology to be a two-pronged answer. It's not that I think those dangers should be downplayed, rather it shows the Church's continued unfamiliarity with an important part of our culture today.

So what does this have to do with me? Let's start with the Pope's address:

"I exhort you to walk the roads of the digital continent, animated by the courage of the Holy Spirit. Our confidence is not uncritically placed in any instrument of technology. Our strength lies in being Church, believing community, able to bear witness to all the perennial newness of the Risen One, with a life that blooms in fullness in the measure that it opens up, enters into relation, gives itself gratuitously. -Pope Benedict XVI"

While many believe the doctrines of Science and Religion to be diametrically opposed, there have been many people throughout history who've merged the two schools of thought to seek the path of God. As technology becomes easier to access and a bigger part of our culture, the missionaries to this "digital continent" will require people who can guide, form, and assist them as they make the Web their new ministry frontier. With the the proper schooling and experience as a priest, friar, and computing consultant, I hope to provide (among other things) a support mechanism for people as they choose to venture into this "land."

Pragmatically, the schooling may prove to be the easiest part of this endeavor. There are numerous questions yet to ask regarding different aspects of the Church, and each day I think of new ideas that are possible for this type of ministry. By exploring this area of study, and writing about it as I learn, I hope to evoke thoughts, inspire dialogue, and perhaps challenge previously held concepts.

If you're willing to think about your faith in a new setting, you may be interested in this series of blogs ramblings. The actual talk the Pope gave can be found here.

Art by Designnrg. Click picture for original location.

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