‘Luddite’ Teens Don’t Want Your Likes.
Updated. “When I got my flip phone, things instantly changed,” Lola continued. “I started using my brain. It made me observe myself as a person. I’ve been trying to write a book, too. It’s like 12 pages now…You post something on social media, you don’t get enough likes, then you don’t feel good about yourself. That shouldn’t have to happen to anyone.”
— Tolkien’s Battle for the Shire and for Us All
— Henry David Thoreau on News media as the “ruling powers”
— 7 Reasons Thoreau Still Matters Today
How to Mark a Book By Mortimer J. Adler, Ph.D.
You know you have to read “between the lines” to get the most out of anything. I want to persuade you to do something equally important in the course of your reading. I want to persuade you to write between the lines. Unless you do, you are not likely to do the most efficient kind of reading.
I contend, quite bluntly, that marking up a book is not an act of mutilation but of love… Continue
Top photo: Into the Wild film (2007) based on the book by the same name by Jon Krakauer.
John Paul II. “Internet: A New Forum for Proclaiming the Gospel”, May 12, 2002
The Church approaches this new medium with realism and confidence. Like other communications media, it is a means, not an end in itself. The Internet can offer magnificent opportunities for evangelization if used with competence and a clear awareness of its strengths and weaknesses. Above all, by providing information and stirring interest it makes possible an initial encounter with the Christian message, especially among the young who increasingly turn to the world of cyberspace as a window on the world.
There already exist on the Net countless sources of information, documentation and education about the Church, her history and tradition, her doctrine and her engagement in every field in all parts of the world. It is clear, then, that while the Internet can never replace that profound experience of God which only the living, liturgical and sacramental life of the Church can offer, it can certainly provide a unique supplement and support in both preparing for the encounter with Christ in community, and sustaining the new believer in the journey of faith which then begins.
Despite its enormous potential for good, some of the degrading and damaging ways in which the Internet can be used are already obvious to all, and public authorities surely have a responsibility to guarantee that this marvellous instrument serves the common good and does not become a source of harm.
The fact that through the Internet people multiply their contacts in ways hitherto unthinkable opens up wonderful possibilities for spreading the Gospel. But it is also true that electronically mediated relationships can never take the place of the direct human contact required for genuine evangelization.
Finally, in these troubled times, let me ask: how can we ensure that this wondrous instrument first conceived in the context of military operations can now serve the cause of peace? Can it favour that culture of dialogue, participation, solidarity and reconciliation without which peace cannot flourish? The Church believes it can; and to ensure that this is what will happen she is determined to enter this new forum, armed with the Gospel of Christ, the Prince of Peace.
The Internet causes billions of images to appear on millions of computer monitors around the planet. From this galaxy of sight and sound will the face of Christ emerge and the voice of Christ be heard? For it is only when his face is seen and his voice heard that the world will know the glad tidings of our redemption. This is the purpose of evangelization. And this is what will make the Internet a genuinely human space, for if there is no room for Christ, there is no room for man. Therefore, on this World Communications Day, I dare to summon the whole Church bravely to cross this new threshold, to put out into the deep of the Net, so that now as in the past the great engagement of the Gospel and culture may show to the world “the glory of God on the face of Christ” (2 Cor 4:6). May the Lord bless all those who work for this aim. — John Paul II
Communications Day, May 27, 1989
“The Church must learn to cope with computer culture“
by Pope John Paul II
In one of her Eucharistic Prayers, the Church addresses God in these words: “You formed man in your own likeness and set him over all creatures.” [Eucharistic Prayer IV]
For man and woman thus created and commissioned by God, the ordinary working day has great and wonderful significance. People’s ideas, activities and undertakings — however commonplace they may be — are used by the Creator to renew the world, to lead it to salvation, to make it a more perfect instrument of divine glory.
Almost 25 years ago, the fathers of the Second Vatican Council, reflecting on the Church in the modern world, declared that men and women, serving their families and the community in their ordinary occupations, were entitled to look upon their work as “a prolongation of the work of the Creator … and as their personal contribution to the fulfillment in history of the divine plan.” [“Gaudium et Spes,” 34]
As the council fathers looked to the future and tried to discern the context in which the Church would be called upon to carry out her mission, they could clearly see that the progress of technology was already “transforming the face of the earth” and even reaching out to conquer space.[cf. “Gaudium et Spes,” 5]
They recognized that developments in communications technology, in particular, were likely to set off chain reactions with unforeseen consequences.
Far from suggesting that the Church should stand aloof or try to isolate herself from the mainstream of these events, the council fathers saw the Church as being in the very midst of human progress, sharing the experiences of the rest of humanity, seeking to understand them and to interpret them in the light of faith. It was for God’s faithful people to make creative use of the new discoveries and technologies for the benefit of humanity and the fulfillment of God’s plan for the world.
This recognition of rapid change and this openness to new developments have proved timely in the years that followed, for the pace of changes and development has continued to accelerate.
Today, for example, one no longer thinks or speaks of social communications as mere instruments or technologies. Rather they are now seen as part of a still unfolding culture whose full implications are as yet imperfectly understood and whose potentialities remain for the moment only partially exploited.
Here we find the basis for our reflections on this 24th World Communications Day. With each day that passes, the vision of earlier years becomes ever more a reality. It was a vision which foresaw the possibility of real dialogue between widely separated peoples, of a worldwide sharing of ideas and aspirations, of growth in mutual knowledge and understanding, of a strengthening of brotherhood across many hitherto insurmountable barriers.[cf. “Communio et Progressio,” 181, 182]
With the advent of computer telecommunications and what are known as computer participation systems, the Church is offered further means for fulfilling her mission. Methods of facilitating communication and dialogue among her own members can strengthen the bonds of unity between them. Immediate access to information makes it possible for her to deepen her dialogue with the contemporary world.
In the new “computer culture” the Church can more readily inform the world of her beliefs and explain the reasons for her stance on any given issue or event.
She can hear more clearly the voice of public opinion and enter into continuous discussion with the world around her, thus involving herself more immediately in the common search for solutions to humanity’s many pressing problems.[cf. “Communio et Progressio,” 114 ff.]
It is clear that the Church must also avail herself of the new resources provided by human exploration in computer and satellite technology for her ever pressing task of evangelization. Her most vital and urgent message has to do with knowledge of Christ and the way of salvation which He offers. This is something she must put before the people of every age, inviting them to embrace the Gospel out of love, ever mindful that “truth cannot impose itself except by virtue of its own truth, which wins over the mind with both gentleness and power.”[ “Dignitatis Humanae,” 1]
As the wisdom and insights of past years teach us: “God has spoken to humanity according to the culture proper to each age.
Similarly the Church, which in the course of time has existed in varying circumstances, has used the resources of different culturesin her preaching to spread and explain the message of Christ.”[“Gaudium et Spes,” 58]
“The first proclamation, catechesis or the further deepening of faith cannot do without the (means of social communication) … the Church would feel guilty before the Lord if she did not use these powerful means that human skill is daily rendering more perfect. It is through them that she proclaims ‘from the housetops’ the message of which she is the depository.”[“Evangelii Nuntiandi,” 45]
Surely we must be grateful for the new technology which enables us to store information in vast man-made artificial memories, thus providing wide and instant access to the knowledge which is our human heritage, to the Church’s teaching and tradition, the words of Sacred Scripture, the counsels of the great masters of spirituality, the history and traditions of the local churches, of religious orders and lay institutes, and to the ideas and experiences of initiators and innovators whose insights bear constant witness to the faithful presence in our midst of a loving Father who brings out of His treasure new things and old.[cf. Mt. 13:52]
Young people especially are rapidly adapting to the computerculture and its “language.” This is surely a cause for satisfaction.
Let us “trust the young.”[“Communio et Progressio,” 70] They have had the advantage of growing up with the new developments, and it will be their duty to employ these new instruments for a wider and more intense dialogue among all the diverse races and classes who share this “shrinking globe.”
It falls to them to search out ways in which the new systems of data conservation and exchange can be used to assist in promoting greater universal justice, greater respect for human rights, a healthy development for all individuals and peoples, and the freedoms essential for a fully human life.
Whether we are young or old, let us rise to the challenge of new discoveries and technologies by bringing to them a moral vision rooted in our religious faith, in our respect for the human person, and our commitment to transform the world in accordance with God’s plan.
On this World Communications Day, let us pray for wisdom in using the potential of the “computer age” to serve man’s human and transcendent calling, and thus give glory to the Father from whom all good things come.
John Paul II, Vatican City
 Eucharistic Prayer IV
 “Gaudium et Spes,” 34
 cf. “Gaudium et Spes,” 5
 cf. “Communio et Progressio,” 181, 182
 cf. “Communio et Progressio,” 114 ff.
 “Dignitatis Humanae,” 1
 “Gaudium et Spes,” 58
 “Evangelii Nuntiandi,” 45
 cf. Mt. 13:52
 “Communio et Progressio,” 70