The last time I was considered “hip” about anything “new” was sometime around 1990 — a time when the only digital things I owned were a watch and a clock radio. And maybe a CD player. I was the last of my friends to get an email address, sometime around 1998.
Still, the digital revolution of “new media” forced a technophobe like me to plunge in — for work, but also because I was a devout Catholic mother of teenagers. Surfing the web regularly for the “good stuff” became a necessity. It took time — trial and error — to find what was worth consuming from the vast landscape, given the sampling of Catholic content varied widely in terms of message, delivery, and potency.
Now, Catholics in search of the “good stuff” can thank Brandon Vogt for his diligent and cogent book, The Church and New Media (Our Sunday Visitor, 2011). It’s a timely resource for anyone who is looking for the best Catholic new media has to offer at the present moment. Sandwiched between glowing endorsements by top Catholic leaders, readers will find chapters of insightful essays from a who’s-who listing of Catholic new media’s movers and shakers. Contributions range from using new media in one’s personal and family life, to the Church’s charge to use of new media to foster new evangelization. There’s even a friendly glossary for the still-bewildered and technically-challenged to navigate the on-going learning curve. This book boasts a harvest of first-fruits from time-tested pioneers on the Catholic new media frontier. There’s a lot to taste and enjoy, from the prolific and intellectually stimulating commentary of Fr. Robert Barron, to the varied writing styles and missions of extraordinary bloggers like Jennifer Fulwiler, Thomas Peters, and Mark Shea, to the practical online community-building prowess of Lisa Hendey, Marcel LeJeune, and Matthew Warner.
True to dialogical nature of new media, this book asks penetrating questions, and gives some honest analysis as to new media’s future, and, specifically, the Catholic Church’s stake in it. Like Lewis and Clark, the book’s collaborators have bravely begun to map out a course for Catholic new media, but much remains uncharted, and underexplored. Yet, it’s all handled with verve and gracious nerve by first-time author, Brandon Vogt. He is a faithful tour guide immersed the subject matter, and his vigor and optimism invites us all, young and old, to log on and enter the conversation.