Ever-Present Yes: An Interview with Fr. Robert Barron on "Catholicism; A Journey to the Heart of the Faith"
The Church has throughout its history used the best means available to communicate the power of the Gospel: from Roman roads to Gothic architecture, from the high art of the Renaissance to the printing press, and most recently through a vast international network of institutions. No one of these methods suffices for all times and circumstances. We are never done with catechesis and evangelization, and it would be a tragedy if the Church did not marshal its resources and use emerging technologies to extend the invitation to participate in Christ's life in his Church. I hope the Catholicism series with all its related materials inspires Catholics to envision the good things that can be accomplished with the tools of media in forms both traditional and contemporary.
Many would suggest that in mainstream media, Catholicism gets a bad rap—news outlets are not always objective in their coverage, whether the story is about Catholic scandals or celebrations, and films, television, literature do not seem interested in making serious explorations of Catholic characters, particularly priests and religious. Were you responding to that at all?
It can certainly be argued that the current ethos of the media culture is enamored of controversy and limited by the constraints of ideological secularism. If this is the ethos then it should come as no surprise that the reporting on religion by the mainstream media is characterized with either disinterest or such a pronounced hermeneutic of suspicion that egregious errors in reporting are overlooked so that the purveyor of a story can make their point.
I do think that Catholics have become far too reliant on the mainstream media to learn about who they are and what they are all about, but one can't simply pass judgment on the media in this regard. Why isn't the Church the source for information about its own identity and mission? Are we speaking to our own people in ways that lack the ability to hold the attention of our own faithful? Are we speaking to the culture in such a way that our message is rendered unintelligible? If so, are we all that surprised that the media gets us wrong? All this being said, I do think that if the Church doesn't tell its own story who will? Likely the Church's story will be told be those who do not understand the Church, are suspicious of it, or openly hostile. We can decry this as an injustice, but if we offer no alternative, the fault is our own. We also can't wait around for the mainstream media to get our story right; Catholics have to tell the Church's story and we have to learn how to tell it well.
If we are truly faithful, the story of the Church is something that we will never tire of sharing with others. I would say that it is correct to understand the Catholicism series, book, and study program as providing an example to the faithful of not only how compelling and rich the story of the Church is, but how this story lends itself to a bold and captivating presentation. If there is a challenge in the Catholicism series it is not just to demonstrate to the mainstream media that the Church is more than they think it is, it is also a challenge to Catholics to make the case for the Church to the culture, and to do so with honesty, intelligence, enthusiasm, and joy.
The book is clearly meant to be more than an extraneous companion to the series; it stands on its own as a kind of "overview" of a "long view": how we can see everything since the first words of Creation as one long Catholicism Project, a continual process of Incarnation, as you write, "through space and time."