By Sherry Antonetti
The title, “Tweeting with God,” conjured visions of a short pithy book with 365 tweets, sort of a devotional or inspirational thought for the day. So I was surprised when a 431 page book arrived at my doorstep, delving into such topics as what the church teaches about sex, the big bang, why are we here on Earth, crusades, birth control, and what happened in Vatican II.This isn’t a book to read page by page (though you can), but to use as a reference, as a starting point for plunging deeper into a given topic. It reminded me of a blog, in that each topic is taken in turn, written about for two pages, and then, on to the next topic. I can see it being invaluable to any teacher of RCIA, or for help with faith formation when teens begin asking deeper questions. It isn’t so much an exchange between a tweeter and Fr. Remery or a questioner and God, as it is a different way of presenting the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Each topic begins with a tweet question, and then, what amounts to a carefully researched well written essay addressing the topic, and closes with a tweet answer. The beauty and the weakness of this book is that element of essays. Essays make tackling a single topic easier, and the systemic approach allowed for clarity. But essays also segment the discussion, such that it can make the faith feel capable of being parsed or cherry picked. A remedy would be if the Appendix 4 and 5, which discussed prayer, how to pray with a text from the bible and reflecting on one’s day through prayer, and the call to spread the gospel (the final tweet post 4.50) had been together, and near the front rather than the back. Everything of our faith follows from having a relationship with Jesus, and that can only be formed by seeking it. The purpose of all this “stuff” is not rules, but learning to fall in love with God. Everything we do as Catholics, comes from seeking to fall more deeply in love with Jesus.
There’s also an interactive component to the book. On the first page, it says to download the app, #TwGOD app www.tweetingwithgod.com. Maybe I did it incorrectly, as the starting article came up in Dutch. However, downloading a QR code reader app, fixed the problem. Reading the article, it talked about how you could use the app to follow the mass, including the prayers and the readings when you’re in a foreign country. As useful as that might be for understanding the mass, I don’t know that bringing a smart phone into church helps one fully participate. I find my own mind distracting enough without the added presence of technology.
According to the book, placing the smartphone over any title illustration with the tag (Scan) next to it, allows one to watch vidoes, follow links and read more. I drafted my teens for this part of the book, and even they struggled. We could not get the app to recognize the pictures and provide more in depth analysis and material, (but maybe the fault is ours, owning only 4S phones), try as we might.
Even without the app, I would recommend it as a go to reference for use with teens and those preparing for Confirmation. It is faithful, it is clear, and it is true. Father Michel Remery is certainly at the forefront of promoting the faith using social media, and is to be commended for his solid work, compiled in the many essays which cover wide swaths of the catechism in Tweeting with God. My teens and tweens were curious about what the book has to offer as part of the new evangelization (and not just because they want the latest smart phones). They tend to roll their eyes at Mom reading “Catholic stuff,” but the idea of being able to access video while reading, intrigued them. They spent longer than I expected trying to get at the extra features and didn’t delete the app when we stopped trying. I think two of them intend to try again.
It may be called Tweeting with God, but it’s more like God is fishing, hoping to catch souls using the lure of a smart phone as bait.
Sherry Antonetti is a freelance writer, blogger, rookie apologist and Catholic mom of ten children. She sometimes cleans her home, but is more often found working on the computer, reading to her kids, or running errands. You can find more of her stories, work and thoughts at sherryantonettiwrites.blogspot.com, a blog also known as Chocolate for your Brain!