Do not be an upbeat Christian. Also beware of being to faithful to Catholic teachings. State of the art technology and methods are nothing for you. You are just putting on a show anyway. You don’t care about the poor and only minister to the filth rich … wait! there is already an article like this? Sorry, my bad. This one will sing to a different tune.
Dieser Artikel existiert auch in einer deutschsprachigen Version auf hinsehen.net (This article is also available in German).
Just so we all know right of the bat: I am a “Hurray Catholic”. Because I have good reason to be joyful: Jesus is risen! He has defeated sin and death. Yes there is still suffering, we still sin and there are still people dying. But death is no longer final end. Amidst of crisis, problems and dreadful exams I have hope. Hope that God does not abandon us, that HE will cure our minds and bodies. That He will raise us up, dry our tears and bring us to His heavenly wedding feast. I know I am loved by my creator and lord.
##Striving for Hollywood Quality
Looking back at the history of the Church we see a lot of different ways of sharing the faith trough art and media. Augustin’s Confessions, Dante’s Divine Comedy, John Chrysostom’s homilies, Michelangelo’s frescos, Antoni Gaudí’s Sagrada Família to name just a tiny portion. They created the best art of their time, advancing technology, inventing new forms of literature, painting and architecture. They lived their faith and shared it not just as truth but as something good and beautiful. Glorifying God using chisels, pens, brushes, ink, paper, stone, the mouth and finally the canvas of their own lives. So why would we stop doing this? Can’t we use cameras, microphones, lights and editing software to glorify God? Why wouldn’t we use the best technology available, making the best products we can achieve?
If we should criticise something, it is half-baked, poorly made and repelling presentations of the faith. They even fail in their intended purpose. Good intentions and effort granted, there is still a level of sophistication that is expected to be taken serious. Nobody wants to consume something that is below par. We want the videos we watch on our computer to be like the movies we watch there, too. The time where we could experiment online is over. This is not a new place to be sorted out anymore. We are at home online and we know how our home is supposed to look like. We are the Apple generation. We want style and a good presentation. We want good production values before we even consider content. The story is dead and pointless if everybody stops watching because they are appalled.
So the media we put out to reach people and tell them about anything need to be well made and beautiful first or the truth of it will be rejected immediately. The best way to ensure a good quality is to do all things for the glory of God first.
##Old Wine in New Skins
It seems new media and technology requires new ideas and beliefs. But Christians have always used all the available methods to bring the Gospel to the people. They changed the way they wrote, painted and preached without changing the content. They used the methods that enabled as many people as possible to receive the good news. Remember the medieval art? The elaborate depictions of the history of salvation made these stories accessible to the illiterate majority of people. We need methods to make them accessible to the religiously illiterate majority of today. Reaching them with articles like these is an illusion. Reaching them with long arguments is laughable. They will tune out, by the latest, when the average couple of minutes of a YouTube video have past. So we need to appeal to what they are craving: to be awed by beauty and to have a quick fix. This cannot be sufficient for even a foundation to a Christian life. Things will be oversimplified. It will show the most impressive sides of the faith. It will be like an image of Calvary that also fails to completely represent the crucifixion itself. But it can be a first step, an invitation to draw near and to learn more.
##Labourers in the Vineyard
These efforts are just the start. Faith is a journey that we take up every day. So “Hurray Catholics” in the New Movements and Communities offer help with youth ministry, missionary and charitable outreach, retreats and conferences. See FOCUS for example. The Fellowship of Catholic University Students is mostly doing ministry in colleges and universities. Father Mike Schmitz, one of the two priests in the video depicting the Hollywood style charade, is a frequent guest speaker at their conferences. He emphasises over and over again the hardship and effort an authentic Christian life entails. He challenges to greater effort in becoming better followers of Christ in word, deed and intention. But he also makes one thing clear: it is worth it. There is beauty in the Cristian life. There is something resonating within us, something we long for. This is what these videos are drawing at. They are not instilling new ideas and desires in people, yet they put the attention on desires we all have in us already.
Yes, these videos are directed towards people with sufficient means, which are able to access videos. But is this not also an act of charity? Many people are having enough to live a good life, but are lacking hope, authentic companionship and finally love. How is reaching out to them not a compassion service? We emphasise material poverty and suffering so much, that we neglect and dismiss spiritual poverty and suffering. Still they also need to be fought and eased. Every group, apostolate or order has therefore a unique mission, a calling to one specific task. Some are catechising; some are reaching out to young people, some to the poorest of the poor and some to the lonely old upper-class lady.
But the New Movements are reaching all parts of society. They are working in developing countries and grow substantially.
It is a fairly bold move to accuse people of putting on a show while sharing their personal testimony. It is quite interesting to read about people ignoring the hardships of life after hearing these two people describe their struggle in the faith. Also Fr. Josh Johnson confirmed in his testimony the suspicion. Priests are not necessarily holy. Quite often they are very fallible, sinning and in dire need of conversion. Like we all are. So I guess this video is not a good example of the manipulative group of Catholics described in the critisizing article.
##Two Good Questions
What do I do if my world comes tumbling down? Trust in God and suffer the consequences. If I am right, they will be very positive. If I am wrong – well too bad for me. The second question is about expectations and reality. We need to learn that God is perfectly capable of shattering our expectations. But He is not capable of breaking His promises. So these are safe to expect. And yes, I am a sinner, I am fallible and weak. I have not figured it all out nor do I know the answers to many good and important questions. But I know GOD is love and HE is risen. This is where reality hits me in the face. When there is real suffering and evil that I cannot explain, I know for this to be real and objective it needs an objective standard to be measured to. When I encounter other people and there inherent dignity I know they have not given themselves this dignity. When I hear the stories of some saints I know that some of what they did is not humanly possible.
Stay tuned for my next article “Oorah Catholic” – serving for a better world.