You know what’s even better than writing a blog post? Having someone else write a blog post you can just link to as though it’s additional content in your own blog. This is also just a lesson in recursion – linking to a post that links to your post.
As you all know, I’ve been reporting on Social Media for a website called Social Axcess. I reported on the iPhone confession app, which allows you to figure out which sins you need to confess, and I got a somewhat heated reply from one of the founders of GSMI, the company that owns the blog. His name is Luke Vince and he felt the need to ‘correct’ my article, call me myopic, and spell my name without my middle initial. Perhaps it is madness to argue with company higher ups, but I’m afraid I’m terrible at resisting the temptation to get into a good online discussion.
Usually when I see the word correction, I must confess, I think that there has been some sort of editorial or factual error in another article, but it seems that what this actually is is simply a difference of perspective.
His first ‘correction’, in response to my claim that it’s been a rough couple of years for the church, is that the current assaults (really?) by the “new atheist” (his quotes) movement are nothing new, the church is growing in some places, and always emerges stronger from strife. These are non-sequiturs, he is arguing against a point I never made. Regardless of the history of the church or its ability to bounce back, it has been a rough couple of years for it.
The church is shrinking in the West where the majority of its funds come from, and growing in the East, South America and Africa. It is losing members of the priesthood and interest in joining the priesthood, facing a major shortage of priests. It is facing constant negative media pressure because of the sex scandals. I nowhere claimed that the current problems it’s facing are the worst in its history or impossible to recover from, but it would be myopic indeed to pretend that they didn’t exist.
He also says, in response to my claim that the church is slow to respond to things like changing moral opinions and the AIDS crisis, that it is because the church doesn’t succumb to whims or move quickly and that this has served them well. Obviously, we also disagree on whether slowness to respond to current problems is an admirable devotion to tradition or a dangerous resolution to keep its head in the sand. But we don’t disagree on the actual fact, which is that the church is slow to change. The glacial response time in condemning nazis, condemning the inquisition, and addressing the complaints of Martin Luther seem to me to show a devotion to slowness that is neither good for the church nor moral.
His final complaint, excuse me, ‘correction’, is that the confession app doesn’t replace any sacraments but rather is an aide to helping Catholics figure out how they’ve sinned. Nowhere did I say the confession app replaced anything and we agree on the fact that it is a good move for the church, we simply disagree on how laughable it is. I can’t imagine belonging to an organization that has so many silly rules that I need assistance in figuring out if I’ve broken them or not.
Perhaps I am most disappointed, however, that the writer felt the need to personalize his defense as an attack on me but proceeded not to make one point in response to anything I actually wrote.
The Catholic Church has had a rough time lately, between sex scandals and dwindling interest in church and the constant onslaught of the New Atheist movement, they haven’t had much good PR in the last decade. Always a relic from older, simpler times, the Catholic Church is usually half a century behind the rest of the world in adopting any sort of new technology or public opinion. Despite the AIDS crisis, it took them thirty years to decide that condoms were OK for preventing the spread of HIV, so I was shocked to find that they are trying to keep it real with a new iPhone app for confessions.
I admit that I laughed when I read that. I did. I’m not a Catholic, and I’m not sure how mundane one can make the sacred and profound, but from the perspective of marketing the church to younger members, which is what they so desperately need, making it easier to participate on social media platforms is a smart move. Earlier this year, the Pope said he wanted to reach out with new media, and I think this has to be a step in the right direction. Although they have a YouTube channel and a Facebook page that lets users send online postcards, this is a major step to creating an interactive relationship through social media.
There are already several apps available that are religious, most of them centered around quotes and full copies of the Bible, but this is thought to be the first app officially approved by the Vatican. It is, of course, not free, but costs $1.99 to download. I think it speaks volumes about the importance of social media as a marketing tool that even the Holy See is getting in on the act. Here’s hoping the Pope starts tweeting.
I seriously can’t believe they’re charging for it, I feel like that’s the most crass thing about it.