This week, I was at the Catholic Digital Media Conference in Sydney.
I was thrilled, honoured and totally in over my head. Everyone at the conference was passionate about using new media — blogs, podcasts, social media and everything else that could go on a smart phone — to preach the gospel of Christ Jesus.
I did a workshop on blogging together with Sue Elvis of Sue Elvis Writes. I can’t speak for Sue, who was so lovely, but I was freaking out inside. It probably didn’t help that such accomplished Catholic writers like Chelsea Houghton and Bernard Toutounji were there or that there was an archbishop sitting in the middle row. Later, I was on a panel with people like Greg and Jennifer Willits, the authors of The New Evangelization and You and The Catholics Next Door: Adventures in Imperfect Living because, you know, I’m totes qualified for that…
Did I mention I was in way over my head? #understatementofthecentury
But that’s my blogging M.O. I think of bloggers as the unqualified enthusiasts, the expert novices, the village idiots of the Church. We speak off the top of our heads and write from the bottom of our hearts. And yes, we say some truly stupid things sometimes.
— Fiona Basile (@fiona_basile) August 20, 2014
In an odd way, our very imperfection is our gift to the Church. Today, image is so carefully managed and marketed. Nothing feels real anymore. Everything is so shiny, flat and photoshopped.
Of course, that’s not quite the case with the Catholic Church. In terms of defining and managing its “brand”, the Catholic Church is dreadful. To quote Greg Willits, we have the best message and the worst methods.
Catholics everywhere could use some serious marketing help. We could start by banning all clipart from parish bulletins and eventually work our way up to the mother of all travesties, the place web trends go to die… The Vatican Website.
Bad web design aside, we as Catholics have something far better to offer the world than a superbly crafted brand.
We have ourselves. We have you and me and her and him and even that random guy in the corner.
That might not sound particularly comforting. It might sound downright horrifying but the crazy thing is that God wants us to be His media. He wants us to be the means that others encounter Him. (Yeah, we always knew he was off His rocker, didn’t we?)
God chooses to reveal Himself through the weird, awkward messiness we call humanity. He does so perfectly in Christ, the Word become human. Jesus is the Perfect Communicator of who God is because He truly is God.
We, of course, are not God (say it ain’t so!) By being united to Christ, the media of God, we can become representatives of Christ too. We are the media, the medium, through which God reveals Himself. All that the Lord asks of us is that we bring our weakness and messiness and let Him do the work. Our task as Catholic Christians isn’t to try to tweak His message or tidy it up for the world. Our job is to let Him speak through our messiness and our love for others.
This, I think, is where bloggers can come in.
Bloggers do messy really well.
We have a thousand temptations to be artificial, to seek publicity and not authenticity, but on the whole, we also have a rare freedom to be who we are. We can be honest about the hard stuff and the amazing stuff.
Catholic bloggers can prove to a dubious world that Catholics love Jesus, love the Church, and love (ahem) each other. We can do it with authenticity because we can share our lives too in a way that a diocesan office or important prelate can’t.
We can help people who may not even know a faithful Catholic to see that this life in Christ through His Church is beautiful in all its zany, delightful fullness.
Being a Catholic blogger means sharing the gospel as we share our lives. On the internets, we can’t do that completely nor would it be wise to do so — but we can share something of our lives. That real human connection, no matter how mediated through prose and pixels, means something.
As Catholic bloggers, we want to “share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.” (1 Thessalonians 2:8)