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w/n Us: Forming Disciples in the Digital Age

Diocese of Joliet | January 26, 2017

1. *Introduction
a. My first encounter with the internet
i.
AOL at Andys house
ii.
Discovering instantaneous communication at college
iii.
Bonding over bacon on Twitter
2. *Outline
a. Morning: What is the Digital Culture? (90 minutes)
b. Mass
c. Lunch
d. Afternoon: Visioning the Hyperlinked Church (2 hours)
3. *What is the Digital Culture?
a. Culture: totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs,
institutions, and all other products of human work and thought. (American
Heritage College

Dictionary, third edition)


b. *Does Digital Culture qualify as a culture?
i.
*Behavior patterns:
1. Carrying mobile devices with us
2. Receiving and responding to notifications
3. Texting
4. Sharing (status updates, cat pictures, emojis)
5. Curation
ii.
*Arts
1. Selfie
2. Remixes (Garden of Your Mind)
3. Mash-Ups (Grey Album, Postmodern Jukebox)
4. Blogs
5. Podcasts (Liturgy Guys)
6. Memes
7. Wikis (communal contribution)
iii.
*Beliefs
1. Information wants to be free
2. Cult of the New
3. Emphasis on Participation
4. All Problems are Solvable
a. Technological Solutionism
b. Pope Francis: technological paradigm (Laudato Si)
c. Tony Stark
5. Growth is Good
a. Twitter is a failed business

6. Faster is better
iv.
*Institutions
1. Distinct from businesses
2. Wikipedia
3. Internet Archive (archive.org)
4. Electronic Frontier Foundation
c. No single digital culture
i.
Gamers
ii.
Video Producers
iii.
Social Media
iv.
Makers
d. *Characteristics of Digital Cultures
i.
*Binary
1. Built on digital systems
2. 0s and 1s
a. Douglas Rushkoff: Decision points
3. Geometry
a. Always Black and White, no Gradiants
i.
Circle as series of points vs uninterrupted line
ii.
*Excarnational
1. Doubles-Down on Enlightenments Body/Mind Dualism (Cogito
ergo sum)
2. Excarnation Affects Behaviors
a. Downplays importance of physical presence
i.
We can outsource presence, caring to technology
b. Sherry Turkle: kids would rather text than meet
face-to-face
i.
Want time to craft perfect response/message
ii.
Feel pressured when they have to respond in real
time
c. Advent of Companion Robots
i.
Health Care/Nursing Homes
ii.
Child Care
iii.
NB: Marketed towards the Vulnerable
iii.
*Asynchronous
1. Eliminates perception of time
a. Human Perception of TIme Always Influenced by Tools for
Measuring Time
2. Traditionally two types of time
a. Chronos
b. Kairos
3. Chronos intrudes into kairos
a. Notifications - conditioned to check n
ow

4. Chronos intrudes on chronos


a. Past statements, images, etc. appears without
chronological context
i.
Ignores any intervening growth, contrition
iv.
*Distributed/Nongeographic
1. Where does the internet live?
a. Trinity Health data centers
2. Sherry Turkles Tyranny of Geography
3. Allows people from across the world to communicate, collaborate
4. Image: Wikipedia servers (2009: 300 servers in Florida, 44 in
Amsterdam)
v.
*Disintermediated
1. Breaks down hierarchies by eliminating go betweens
a. Hyperlink take you from one page to another, regardless of
context
b. Reduces gatekeepers to publishing
2. Industry term is disruption
a. Uber: disrupts taxi industry
b. AirBnB disrupts hotel industry
vi.
*Open/Free/Democratic
1. Free like Beer vs Free like Speech
2. Sharing
a. Little Free Library
3. Creative Commons
4.
vii.
*Editable/Hackable
1. Wikis
2. Mash-Ups
3. Extending to Human Body
a. Tim Ferriss: T
he 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to
Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman
e. *In Depth Look At Digital Self
1. *Idealized Avatars/Profiles
a. Circles of access to authentic self
b. Eliminations of flaws
i.
Ready Player One (Ernest Cline, 2012) avatars
ii.
Raises question: who is "real" online?
c. Idealzation also applied to human body
i.
Body is another machine to be hacked or code to
be edited
1. Efforts to find key to immortality
a. Google Investments: Last year, 36%
of its $2 billion was in life sciences

ii.

b. Simply philanthropic?
c. Also good business:
i.
Google makes money the
more you are online
ii.
Longer you live, longer you will
use Googles services
Body can be edited
1. Body modification is a huge industry
a. Body piercing
b. Tattoos
c. Cosmetic surgery
i.
Both to conform to cultural
norms of beauty
ii.
And to rebel against them
iii.
Forked tongues, horns, elf
ears among the options
available
d. Scarification
2. Without denying reality of gender dysphoria,
hard to see widespread acceptance of gender
reassignment surgery outside this context
3. Not all body modifications are bad
a. Lissie - first cyborg in the family

2. *Connected
a. We are always connected to each other, expected to be
available
i.
Grew more acute for parents after 9/11
b. Always connected to media
i.
Constant entertainment, no opportunities for
boredom
1. Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to
Death
c. Is this constant connection good for us?
i.
Experiments taking away phones from heavy users
showed they experienced signs of anxiety within 10
minutes, did poorly on tests
d. Are digital relationships real?
i.
Yes!
1. But thats the wrong question
ii.
More importantly: How much of our authentic
selves can we bring to digital relationships?
iii.
Importance of authenticity
iv.
How do we determine authenticity?
1. We assume that we are all Nigerian princes!

2. @ThisCatholicGirl
a. 5K followers, millennial sense of
humor, pictures
b. Total scam
c. Perfectly crafted identity drew many
in
d. New idolatry?
e. Relationships divorced from geographic proximity
i.
Tied to common interest, beliefs
3. *Accessed in multiple ways
a. Various devices
i.
Computer
ii.
Cell phone
iii.
Tablet
b. Not every device has same capabilities
i.
Dont always have complete access to our whole
digital self
c. As a result, multiple transitory identities
i.
Who I am on Facebook may be different from
World of Warcraft, Twitter, SnapChat, etc.
ii.
Easy to try out different identities, aspects of our
personalities
1. This includes aspects of our fallen nature
a. Porn
b. Trolling/Cyberbullying
c. Virtual violence
iii.
Also easy to discard identities
4. *Atomistic
a. Parts of our digital identities are hidden, even from
ourselves
i.
Huge archive of our online selves
ii.
Companies dont give us access to all the
information they have collected on us
b. This archive is both
i.
permanent in a way traditional relationships/identity
arent
1. In college I could be a different person than
in high school
2. Now there is always a permanent record of
what you say, do
ii.
susceptible to erasure at any time
1. Try finding your Friendster information

4.
5.
6.
7.

2. Recent story: 74-yo looking for new MMO


when Asherons Call closes
a. Hes played since 1999, has friends
there
f. *Review: What is one new insight or idea you have gained?
*Mass/Lunch
*Video: Instagram Husbands
Quick Review of Morning
*Visioning the Hyperlinked Church
a. Long-time interest in and use of computers
b. *Interest in digital culture grew after Bishop Herzogs 2010 address to US
bishops
c. Got me thinking: What are some epoch-defining inventions; discoveries that have
literally altered human life on this planet?
i.
Wheel
ii.
Electric light bulb
iii.
Vaccinations
d. *I would like to propose that the hyperlink is the latest of such inventions
i.
Invented by Ted Nelson in 1965
ii.
Basis of World Wide Web by Sir Tim Berners-Lee in 1989
e. Spend the afternoon considering: if Church had to adapt to accommodate new
ways of thinking and behaviors inaugurated by printing press, how must she do
so in response to the hyperlink and emerging digital culture?
f. Shouldnt be afraid to consider this question
i.
St. John Paul II New Evangelization is new in method, expression, ardor
ii.
Parishes adaptation is an example of new methods
iii.
*Adaption of parishes called for by Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium:
iv.
The parish is not an outdated institution; precisely because it possesses
great flexibility, it can assume quite different contours depending on the
openness and missionary creativity of the pastor and the community.
While certainly not the only institution which evangelizes, if the parish
proves capable of self-renewal and constant adaptivity, it continues to be
the Church living in the midst of the homes of her sons and daughters.
This presumes that it really is in contact with the homes and the lives of
its people, and does not become a useless structure out of touch with
people or a self-absorbed group made up of a chosen few. (Evangelii
Gaudium no. 28)
g. What does a hyperlinked parish look like?
i.
Not talking about participation in new media
ii.
...or consumption of new media.
1. This is a trap many fall into.
2. Audrey Watters quote
iii.
Although of course we should support and encourage this!

iv.

Rather, how could the insights and strengths of a hyperlinked culture be


brought to bear on the culture of an individual parish?
h. *Recognizes changing nature of relationship with parishioners
i.
Today parishioners choose how/when to connect with parish
1. Previously, people believed and then belonged
2. Now they belong and then believe
ii.
We may need to rethink categories of parishioners based on their
relationship with the parish
1. Traditionally
a. Visitor
b. Parish member
c. More involved member?
2. New
a. Intentional disciples
b. Sunday participants
c. Virtual parishioners?
d. Marginal Catholics
e. Visitors
iii.
Reach beyond the borders of the Church to other believers
1. Success of pro-life movement in no small part to unsanctioned
relationships between Catholics, Evangelicals, others
i. *Church leaders seek to link parishioners with resources, other members
of the faithful who can help them on their faith journey
i.
Parishes as hubs of connectivity rather than dispensary of sacraments,
teaching, etc.
ii.
Help parishioners use tech to integrate faith in "everyday life"
iii.
Will require parishes to recognize and cultivate the charisms of the Holy
Spirit present among the faithful
1. This includes charisms that fall outside our own comfort zones or
that fail to fall into neatly hierarchical categories
iv.
Will require us to get out of the way of the movement of the Holy Spirit
among the faithful
1. Recognize that our baptismal call to holiness is the basis for
Christian activity, not (just) a mandate from clergy
j. *Engages in conversation using human language
i.
Great insight from C
luetrain Manifesto (1999)
1. Humans speak in human language; institutions/corporations speak
in marketing terms
a. Human language is
i.
Creative
ii.
Funny
iii.
Informal
iv.
Open

v.
vi.

Hospitable
Mutual/Open to the other
1. Embraces silence so that the other can
respond
b. The long silence -- the industrial interruption of the human
conversation -- is coming to an end. On the Internet,
markets are getting more connected and more powerfully
vocal every day. These markets want to talk, just as they
did for the thousands of years that passed before market
became a verb with us as its object. (Cluetrain)
ii.
Focus on person of Jesus Christ
1. We dont talk about Jesus enough!
2. How did Jesus interact with people?
iii.
in terms of how we reach out
1. Are we meeting the real needs of parishioners through our
ministries?
a. E.g.: How many troubled marriages are in your parish?
i.
If you dont know: consider that your parish
probably isnt that different from culture at large
ii.
How much time and effort does your parish put into
marriage ministry or support for those whose
marriages have fallen apart?
k. *Creates and shares resources
i.
Cardinal Wuerl: New Evangelization is not a program.
ii.
New Evangelization must be good cheese. (Edmund Mitchell)
iii.
Hyperlinked parish will share fruits of its creation with others spirit of
generosity
1. Wider conversation re: copyright and Church documents
l. *Exercises appropriate transparency
i.
Information wants to be free.
ii.
Doesnt mean that parishioners have a right to all information
iii.
Does mean they are empowered with appropriate information
iv.
Transparency builds trust
v.
Transparency cuts of unpleasant surprises
1. School closings
8. *10 min Break
9. *Video: Amazon Priest and Imam
a. Good example of bringing human in digital world
b. Much of digital world is designed to distract from real, authentic, human
encounters
i.
Not a new problem!
ii.
*Merton: Nine tenths of the news, as printed in the papers, is
pseudo-news, manufactured events. Some days ten tenths. The ritual

morning trance, in which one scans columns of newsprint, creates a


peculiar form of generalized pseudo-attention to a pseudo-reality. This
experience is taken seriously. It is ones daily immersion in reality. Ones
orientation to the rest of the world. Ones way of reassuring himself that
he has not fallen behind. That he is still there. That he still counts! My own
experience has been that renunciation of this self-hypnosis, of this
participation in the unquiet universal trance, is no sacrifice of reality at all.
To fall behind in this sense is to get out of the big cloud of dust that
everybody is kicking up, to breathe and to see a little more clearly.
(Thomas Merton, Faith and Violence)
10. *Being Human in a Digital World
a. Douglas Rushkoff: My main strategy for remaining hopeful is staying as human
as possible and operating on the human scale as much as possible. When you
operate on the scale of the corporations, of the internet, you end up getting
caught in these giant standing waves, you end up losing your home field
advantage as a living person... The more you do at a human scale and I mean
a human scale directly with other people, not just Skyping with other people, but
really there in person the more likely you are to be able to transform the
landscape so it no longer favors just corporations and other abstract entities but
you and your loved ones and your community.
b. *Table Conversation
i.
Based on what we know about the digital culture, how can the Church be
a human & hyperlinked Church?
1. Look for c oncrete actions that you could start doing within 7 days
2. 15 minute table conversation
a. Set Timer
b. Turn off sound to video
ii.
*Responses in Large Group
c. Enacting the Hyperlinked Church
i.
Turn Off Notifications
1. Be present to who is in your presence
2. Dont let kronos intrude!
ii.
Check Email 3 Times per Day
iii.
Speak in Human Language
1. This is part of appeal of Pope Francis - he speaks like a person
2. Does your parish communicate in human language?
a. Examples from locals bulletins:
i.
In this program, we will utilize the RENEW Parish
Assessment, which helps parishes affirm areas of
strength, identify areas of opportunity, and
strategically plan for full and active participation in
the mission of the New Evangelization.

ii.

Baptism, Communion, Confirmation Are you


interested in learning more about the Catholic faith?
Are you a Catholic who has not received First
Eucharist and Confirmation? For RCIA information,
contact XXX
iii.
Marriages: Diocesan policy requires at least a six
month preparation process. Couples planning to
marry should speak directly with the pastor before
setting a date. No weddings are scheduled on
Sunday.
iv.
Preferential Option for the Physical/Real
1. Liturgy - no false symbols
a. Fr. Aidan Kavanagh, E
lements of Rite
i.
Stone floors
ii.
Real linens
iii.
Real candles
2. Catechesis
a. We have great video resources available to us in
catechesis today
b. The greatest, most essential tool of catechesis is the
catechist
i.
No methodology, no matter how well tested, can
dispense with the person of the catechist in every
phase of the catechetical process. (GDC no. 156)
v.
Choose the Goal, Then the Tech
1. We Have to Have Facebook! vs. We Want to Do X, and
Facebook will Help Us Do It
d. Advanced Steps
i.
Providing Building Blocks for Media Engagements in Catechesis
1. CC Art, Music, Video chunks
2. Provide to students to remix, mashup
ii.
Disintermediate Catechesis
1. Catechists as resource
iii.
Promote the Commons
11. *Q&A&C
12. *Final Thought
a. The great Jesuit missionaries traveled to new lands and adapted to the cultures
in which they found themselves, w/o compromising their faith and the faith of the
Church.
b. Today our parishes must recognize that, in addition to traditional geographical
boundaries, they are also part of the digital continent.
c. Must adapt to the digital culture as much as we have the American culture w/o
abandoning Christs command to make disciples of all nations, but making his

message of salvation heard available to all who would hear it on earth, through
text messages, on YouTube, on Twitter, and through whatever enables us to
connect in real and human ways with our brothers and sisters.
13. Closing Prayer
14. *Thank you!