Monday, June 2, 2008

Catholic Media viz a viz Popular Culture

I've been getting hooked into 'Inside Catholic' over the last few weeks. They offer a wide range of articles, blog posts, video blogs, and 'symposia' (the last of these on clericalism), all in one convenient location.

For today, this blog post caught my wandering eye:

He went on to speak of the role of media.
(the media) must now be considered an integral part of the 'anthropological' question that is emerging as the key challenge of the third millennium."
As a quasi-journalist in the blogosphere, I couldn’t agree more; but, I also see that there’s a bit of “preaching to the converted” in some of the efforts of the “Catholic media”.
I’m curious as to what our readers think the role of the broader media should be, as well as how you think this blog (and Catholic media) is helping meet (or hinder) the challenge posed by Pope Benedict XVI.

This is a question that I've had to wrestle with over the last year or so as I continue to get more involved with Sacred Heart Radio here in Cincinnati, as well as the Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center where the station broadcasts.

What is the point? Is it to go all Crossroads and Vineyard and search out for the lost masses of humanity? Is it to preach to the choir, those who already believe and need the formation to live out that belief?

It is my strong belief that we in the Catholic world must provide both. We have to reach out to the unchurched, because only we as Catholics have the fullness of the Faith, the Fullness of Truth, and the restlessness in our culture could be greatly settled by re-introducing Christ. Yet, if we fail to nurture and nourish the faith of those who are already baptized, yet havn't grown in their faith, the Body still suffers. Then we have those 'Number 1's' out there who are saving the world singlehandedly.

I see three basic categories: unchurched; baptized non catechized; baptized, catechized, fire-breathing serious Catholics.

So, who is the target of this blog? Who is the target of Catholic Media? Who should be the target?

There are some who argue that we should only be forming those who already get-it. I see EWTN falling into this trap often: they provide programming for committed Catholics, programs based in Apologetics, catechesis, devotionals. Certainly we cannot forget this very important dimension of the Church's faithful. I see this crowd attending the Coming Home Network gatherings, Scott Hahn, Fr. Pacwa, et al.

Yet, if this is all we offer, I fear it is 'jumping in to the deep end of the pool,' so to speak. One thing I found about stories of converts was the times that they needed to wade into the shallow end of Catholicism and 'hide behind the pillar' when attending their first Mass for fear of being recognized as 'Not A Catholic.' Sirius Catholic Radio 159 seems to fill this void. It is more lifestyle based and I have found to be a bit more relaxed in tone than EWTN radio. (As a caveat, I listen to both, often switching back and forth on long drives.)

Yet, how much do we reach out to the unchurched. We seem to leave this aspect to the Vineyards/Crossroads community style churches who have this as a very specific mission. From the very limited interaction I've had with them, I do not detect the overt anti-Catholicism that I see in some Protestant denominations. But their ecclesiology certainly presents problems.

How do we tap into the 'great unwashed'? I would love for the evangelization class at the seminary to develop a preaching program on Fountain Square in downtown Cincinnati: handouts, flyers, websites, approaches, et al. (Steal from the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormons, at least on technique!) Do I have enough stock to cash in yet to broach this subject there?

How do we develop a broad based plan that covers all aspects: evangelizing the unchurched, forming the neophytes, and feeding the number 1's?

We have to do this every week in a homily, and you wondered what we do Monday through Saturday?


adoro said...

Yup...I used to be one of those people hiding behind the posts because I was a "fraud". (My word)

Although I was also watching EWTN (and complaining they were too "conservative" - but the truth got through to me.) and I was trying to find my way. It would have been nice to find a well-versed Catholic who could have set me straight.

I had questions, I didn't know where to go, who to ask, who NOT to ask, etc. etc. etc.

The radio in a lot of ways does a lot of "preaching to the choir" but there's a ton of people out there who are paying attention, and they're being reached.

A friend of mine, an Evangelical Pastor, once said to me, "You never know who's watching you." And he was right, and he's been proven right over and over again. Much of the best evangelization is through example, but then that's the problem isn't it? Because there's people out there who want to be that good example and they don't know where to start!

A good evangelization program would be awesome. Sign me up! :-)

adoro said...

Oh, and by the way, keep preaching to the choir with all your heart; if we get fired up, someone has to help us stay there! And if we've only got a little spark, someone has to open the bellows on it!

the center of the universe said...

I'm sure it's my vocation (wife/Mother), but I see this really in light of the family. The Church is our Mother and you priests are our Fathers, and you have children of various ages/maturity/etc. We parents teach the little ones (Cradle Catholics)the basics in a simple way; teenagers, who are just on the edge of being able to think abstractly and able to tackle controversial subjects in a different way;& so forth...all the way to the well catechized adults (#1's) who need to be challenged in more difficult ways. Sometimes a child leaves his faith & family, but the parent continues to reach out in various ways to "meet him where he is".
So, yes to your evangelizing on the streets idea! And YES to all the others! We need all avenues to reach all people. No parent must quit....though the Holy Spirit must clearly be invoked & followed! I hope (& pray) for exciting pathways to be opened up & traveled in the Cincy area soon!

Anonymous said...

I'm probably in the "fire-breathing Catholic" category & I'm happy to have my young son reading this blog and others, because I want him to see that gung-ho fidelity isn't only the faith of his family & our traddie friends. Of course, encouraging him to read a vocation site might have another motive ;) We don't have EWTN.

Do we need different kinds of outreach? Of course. But preaching to the choir is absolutely necessary to the choir & the continuation of the choir. It's especially urgent for faithful Catholics who might be stuck with uninspiring liturgy or local preaching that fails to nourish/challenge a maturing faith.

Anonymous said...

I agree to all of the above! You have to preach to the choir - for instance, at Mass last Friday, the Celebrant talked about the Sacred Heart of Jesus & Divine Mercy. Maybe I'm a bit slow, but I never put those two together... we are still learning... if we don't continue to learn, we die.

As far as the unchurched & uncatechized - the majority of this is done through our daily lives - at work, at the shopping center, in the gym, etc. I can't tell you how many times people have come up to me at work & asked about my religion, what I believe, & why I believe it. They are so interested in why I live the way I's a true testament to the Faith!

When I started telling family & friends about my decision to join a Convent - their reaction was either "It's about time" or "I knew it". There's the old adage "you are what you eat" - well, I think it's also "you are what you believe & live" - I choose to believe in the One God, the Most Holy Trinity, who cares so much for us that He gave His only Son to save us. LM

Kelly Benjey said...

I can only speak regarding the Tri-County Vineyard, but their evangelization efforts deliberately emphasize service. From bottled water handouts to block parties in poor neighborhoods to wells in Nigeria, they are all about saying "God loves you" in concrete ways. There is no secretism behind the motivation - they will gladly tell you exactly why they serve... but rarely do they preach it. "Small things done with great love" (mother Theresa) is carved on their church building.

As I sit with them on Saturday nights I have often thought how there is nothing that they offer in the way of programs and outreaches that we don't have in the Catholic church as well. The difference is that all of those programs (from growth and healing groups to parenting classes to job training and food banks) are offered from one community. This one church (probably the size of 3 or 4 large parishes in this diocese) quite possibly offers as much or more service to the community than all of the Catholic Churches in Cincinnati combined via Catholic Social Services, St. Vincent de Paul, etc.

So, their outreach and service efforts are more visible to the folks in their pews because it is a part of their regular community ("find God, find a friend, find a job"), and they are giving and serving with some serious gusto. Imagine if all of the Catholic community in Cincinnati was serving like that!!! (not counting the ones who already are... at Crossroads and the Vineyard).

Which brings me to point #2 - I have never had anyone at the Vineyard try to "convert" me away from the Church - except for poorly catechized fallen-away Catholics. We have to catechize our people!!! I firmly believe (as does my evangelical husband) that I am called to be a stronghold for Catholicism amongst evangelicals - not just because I can argue a theological point, but because I can be a Catholic that surprises the prejudiced and mis-informed.

In summary - serve the unwashed and form them once we wash them! It's a formula that the Catholic Church has used for centuries... we just seem to have forgotten it!

uncle jim said...

i'm in an area that gets no Catholic radio or TV ... we can get Moody Radio though, and lots of people tune in - and listen.

you gotta keep hitting all the ports - someone will be there in the shadows and will be affected.

now, where do the resources come from - people, talent, money, outlets, venues, ...?

it all starts little. Inside Catholic had an article a few weeks ago about the market for Catholic literature, or not. In the discussion it was mentioned how well our evangelical brothers and sisters seem to cover all the base.

we gotta try.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Kyle,

Well thought out as always. This is why I continue to let my evangelical friends from my former protestant life swear in my comboxes. At least they get to hear about the Ugandan martyrs...

Anonymous said...

"a preaching program on Fountain Square in downtown Cincinnati: handouts, flyers, websites, approaches, et al."

You forgot prayer cards.

Holy cards with pretty pictures on them are our secret weapon! Everybody likes holy cards! :)