Friending God-Book Review

by Sr. Susan Wolf, SND on June 20, 2017

in Catholic evangelization, Pope Francis, technology, WWW

“We the people of the 21st century are creatures of the World Wide Web, always online, always connected, always communicating. And we—like all others throughout history—have created this technology in our own image, which gives this creation of ours a spiritual dimension as well.”

With these words Jesuit Antonio Spadaro, editor of “La Civilta Cattolica,” the Jesuits’ biweekly review, and one of Pope Francis’ close advisors on social media and cybertheology, begins the first chapter of his new book: Friending God: Social Media, Spirituality and Community.

The book itself is a quick read: 90 pages and large print; 9 short chapters, plus an introduction and conclusion, notes and a Reflection Guide. However, reading is just the first step. Its content deserves thoughtful reflection and self-examination on how we view and use the Internet in our faith-filled lives.

Drawing on the statement “Inter mirifica” released by the Second Vatican Council on December 4, 1963 and subsequent statements by the Popes since then, Spadaro demonstrates that the Church has been aware and appreciative of the spiritual dimensions and potential of new communication technologies from the beginning. He writes “There is an undeniable, profound, and radical connection between technology and spirituality.” p.14

There are many passages in the book that invite us to understand the Internet in the context of our humanity, our spirituality and our community. Here are two that I highlighted:

In Chapter 5, “Not Just Connections but Communion” he writes:

The challenge therefore, is not how we should “use” the Internet, as one often hears, but rather how to “live well” in the Internet age. In this sense the Internet is not a new “means” of evangelization, but is actually first and foremost a context in which we are called to express our faith —not just simply by showing up but rather through a Christian faith that we live connaturally in relationship to our fellow human beings.

In Chapter 7, “Who is Our Neighbor Online, ” Spadaro quotes Pope Francis who wrote in June 2014:

As I have frequently observed, if a choice has to be made between a bruised Church tht goes out to the streets and Church suffering from self-absorption, I certainly prefer the first. Those “streets” are the world where people live and where they can be reached, both effectively and affectively. The digital highway is one of them, a street teeming with people who are often hurting, men and women looking for salvation or hope. By means of the Internet the Christian message can reach “to the ends of the earth” (Acts1:8).

In the rest of the chapter Spadaro invites us to use the Internet as a “ministry of neighborliness.”  Read the book and see what that challenge entails.

Friending God is published by Crossroad Publishing and is available on Amazon. I encourage you to get a copy and read it this summer. I’d like to discuss with you some of the reflections in this book beginning in the Fall.

Tom June 20, 2017 at 1:56 pm

I recommend as a companion volume Connected Toward Communion: Catechesis in the Digital Age, Daniella Zsupan Jerome, Liturgical Press, 2014.

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND June 20, 2017 at 2:14 pm

Thanks, Tom.

Mary Henige June 23, 2017 at 11:29 am

Thanks Sr. Susan for bringing this book to our attention. I’m eager to read the book. I continue to be amazed at the prophetic beauty in Inter mirifica.

Digna Vela July 4, 2017 at 12:04 pm

Thanks, Susan! I will check out these book! Have a relaxing and blessed summer!