Tweeting with Atheists: Can There be Dialogue?

One of my first stops each morning is to pay a quick visit to my favorite social media site: Twitter. Typically, my overnight haul of tweets that I’ve missed includes a gem from @Pontifex (who likes to tweet around 2:45 am my time) and messages from my friends living in other parts of the world. This morning, I awoke to this little exchange:

An early morning “conversation” on Twitter

@Soulessniper (aka “Frankly Atheist”) was responding to my first tweet of the day — an automated one — which was announcing a regular feature we run each morning at CatholicMom.com: Morning Prayer. In digging a little further after responding to him, I figured out that I probably shouldn’t feel special. He’d had the following interchange with someone else right before our (one-way) chat:

Another interchange on Twitter

Apparently, he’s an equal opportunity, multi-faith disbeliever.

Actually, I took the time to respond to his “Why do you need to pray?” query seriously, and replied hoping that we could have a bit of a dialogue about his question. Not so much for me to “convince” him in any way, but actually so that I could eventually thank him for his question. Isn’t waking up to a question like, “Why do you need to pray?” really sort of the definition of the New Evangelization? Aren’t we — the faithful — engaged in a Year of Faith at this very moment in an effort to among other things radically convert ourselves?

The upcoming Year of Faith declared by Pope Benedict XVI is a “summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Savior of the world” (Porta fidei 6). In other words, the Year of Faith is an opportunity for Catholics to experience a conversion – to turn back to Jesus and enter into a deeper relationship with him. The pope has described this conversion as opening the “door of faith” (see Acts 14:27). The “door of faith” is opened at one’s baptism, but during this year Catholics are called to open it again, walk through it and rediscover and renew their relationship with Christ and his Church. (source: USCCB)

So I’m actually still really hoping that Mr. @Soulessniper might reply with an eye towards REALLY talking about this topic, not just in an attempt to slam each other in 140 characters or less. I would share with him that his question to me really gave me pause, caused me to turn to my Catechism, and did actually enter into my morning prayer conversation with God (who, yes, is all knowing…). Exchanges such as this one make me increasingly thrilled about the real conversations I see happening in places such as Patheos and StrangeNotions.com.

A question for you: When was the last time you had an effective interchange with someone of another faith or an atheist? What did you learn in the process about your own beliefs, and about theirs?

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About Lisa M. Hendey

Lisa Hendey is the founder and webmaster of CatholicMom.com and the author of The Grace of YesA Book of Saints for Catholic Moms and The Handbook for Catholic Moms. Lisa writes for several online and print publications, enjoys speaking around the country and is a frequent television and radio guest and host. Visit her at LisaHendey.com and connect with her at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.


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