Online Faith and Other Matters

It has been a long, long, long time since I have posted here and I apologize for the lack of content.

It seems that I am plagued by a few issues that are culminating in a case of writer’s block that is as hard as the pack ice the plow deposits at the end of my driveway. No, that’s not true, I can eventually get the snowblower and shovel through that, this seems currently impassible.

This will change, but just not yet.

This past Thursday our diocesan newspaper The Evangelist published an article written by Casey Normile entitled, “Is Online Faith Good for the Church?” Casey interviewed me at length for this yet I was more than surprised to see the prominent place my quotes were given in the piece.

Please read it and let me know your thoughts. I clearly do think that it is good, but like all things, it can be bad.

Things are often neutral – it is what we do with them that makes for good or bad. In being online with my ministry, I’d like to think that I am doing good, cooperating with grace. It is not about me – It is about God.

With that said, I am off to meet another Catholic blogger and writer, Brother Daniel P. Horan, OFM of the blog, Dating God. Last year I read an article written by Bro. Dan and I found his website and emailed him. It turns out that he was living right near here; he is at Siena College. It has taken us awhile, but we are finally meeting today.

I share Bro. Dan’s blog almost every single day on my Facebook page. Sometimes I worry that he thinks that I am  stalking him! The reality is that I just think that he is brilliant and that his work should be widely read. I suspect that given his youth, we will all hear of him in the future, as I bet he will be well published.

In any event, my real life is full of real people, amazing people. My online life is full of real people, amazing people, that I first meet online. Often I am privileged to meet them in person too! Wherever two or three are gathered in HIs name, He is present.

Thanks be to God.

If you have experiences – good or bad – of online faith journeys, please add  them to the comments! I’d love to see a good discussion get started here!

14 thoughts on “Online Faith and Other Matters

  1. good for you, Fran! great interview. I think we need to be "out there" using the social media, but mindful that there are some things that can only happen "in person." I also think that you can have the best "facebook page" in the world, but people need to be able to experience something good when they come to your faith community.


  2. My online life started with a forum for mothers. It's interesting how quickly some of us moved to create a space to talk about faith, even in that secular place.Blogging introduced me to a whole new world of faith. My interactions with others online and on sites like Ship of Fools have contributed greatly to my ongoing faith formation, as well as to creating numerous real-life friendships….like ours!Facebook has recently been critically important to me, as I have been dealing with difficult family issues. The ability to ask for prayers–and to have many people respond almost immediately–is, for me, the single greatest thing about social networking.My online life complements my real life–but it is actually MORE important to my spiritual journey and support in some ways. As the spouse of an Episcopal priest, there are things I would feel uncomfortable expressing to members of our parish–but I can reach out to my online friends to question or vent and not have to worry about their reactions, or about causing trouble for my spouse.But online life cannot replace the Eucharist and, as a raging extrovert, I really value the personal interactions with the people in my "meat space" life too!Typical Episcopalian–Via media all the way… 😉


  3. Interesting article. I know that my spiritual friends on Facebook mean a lot to me. And my large number of Episcopal FB friends and pages were directly responsible for my returning to the Episcopal Church, something for which I am very happy and grateful.As for multimedia in worship – that is old technology. It was being done in the sixties, after all. And personally, it makes me cringe, mostly because it evokes the evangelical mega-church. But it was, after all, the progressive churches that were doing it in the sixties. I find Mary's perception that people are more engaged in worship with the multimedia very interesting.And Fran, did you ask to be referred to as "Mrs. Rossi Szpylczyn," or was that strictly the authors doing? I would have expected you to use Ms.


  4. Fran, I think it's a great article. Of course, anything can be taken too far but this is all good. Just look at what the secular media uses to reach the kids…we must do same. The faith-filled online community is amazing. I do think that the Holy Spirit is very much at work in all of this. We must pray for the wisdom and guidance to do it all for the glory of God. Miss your posts – but will be patient.Andie


  5. One of the joys of being Catholic is being able way more often than not to say both/and instead either, let alone neither/nor. There are, of course, genuine dilemmas, but I think it beyond dispute that on-line ministry is, on the whole, not just positive, but necessary. It can and often does turn into a negative. I think any blogger who claims the name Christian and Catholic has a responsibility.It is easy to grind axes, but they not only bear no fruit, they chop down the tree


  6. I think chopped down, actually.But, back to the article, I am uncomfortable with the question. What is good for the church is not a concern of mine, and it seems not to have been of much concern to Jesus either. As an alternative question I would propose, "How can we help Christians grow out of dependency on the cultic functions of our increasingly irrelevant institutions and into their own royal priesthood?" Just a suggestion.


  7. Well, here we have some of the issues with online faith. How do we have actual conversation?I will simply say that if we chop something down it is gone. Pruning however creates new and more bountiful growth.Am I speaking of growth of the "Church" as institution or as people?Always, always people. Church means assembly, I think that we all know that.When I was in one of the worst chapters of my life, I remember buying a piece of jewelry that was made by someone who used Grapevine in the business name. The point being that the grapevine needed what seemed to be the most awful pruning in order to grow.FWIW, I think that the title of the article has proved to be a huge distraction. Whether or not online faith is "good" or "bad" it is here. Good or bad… as Scott Dodge said, both/and… It is how we use it.


  8. When I talk about "trees" needing to be chopped down, I am talking about the institutionalized racism, sexism, homophobia, zenophobia, etc. in the the church (and the culture at large, of course). For some people, taking those things on is "grinding axes." For me, taking those things on is a Gospel imperative. I use my blog to do that. I use my Facebook postings to do that. And I am VERY deliberate in choosing to do so.So, no…I don't think those "trees" need pruning. I think we need to chop them down, dig up the stumps and roots, and dance around the bonfire we make of them….Pax,Doxy


  9. I understand Doxy, but I think, although I can't read his mind, that Scott might have meant the entire Church. I think that you mean elements of it. This is a problem when we don't all know each other and when tone and nuance cannot be communicated. It is me, I am at work and must run!Fran


  10. I am late coming to this post – apologies and congratulations on your article Fran- You came across really well. What interests me about the online interactions is how they will progress in the future to influence what happens inside our faith communities. I am also interested in how conflict and increasingly corrosive comments from opposing sides on blogs will play out because for me this is quite a worrying and unappealing aspect. Over the last year or so I have observed how easily people become bullying "stormtroopers" online. This shadow side of communication often operates in such a way that contentious issues seem to attract pincer like movements from several individuals that accelerate and amplify quickly to viciously debase people. I find the possible psychological consequences of this on individuals and communities quite staggering and we seem to be becoming inured and accepting it as part and parcel of interaction. Also I am interested in the way in which so many people are using social media almost as a form of confession and soul baring increasingly at variance with normal day to day banal conversations. Blessings


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