I'm not a Catholic (and I've never even played one on TV), but I have so many friends who are that I'm always interested in what's going on in the Catholic Church. Today, Reuters has an interesting article on a recent--and I think very wise--warning from Pope Benedict concerning the subtle dangers of online social networks. In a message for the Catholic Church's World Day of Communications, Benedict says: "It is important always to remember that virtual contact cannot and must not take the place of direct human contact with people at every level of our lives."
I've long been bothered by a line from Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice's Jesus Christ Superstar: "Why'd you [Christ] choose such a backward time in such a strange land? If you'd come today you could have reached a whole nation. Israel in 4 B.C. had no mass communication."
On the surface, this seems like a really good question. But now, in the midst of this present "communication age," in which people the whole world over are growing more and more connected, while as persons, as individual men and women, so many are more isolated and lonely than ever, I think I'm beginning to understand that it simply wouldn't have worked. All of the mass communication in the universe could not relay what Christ had in mind with the Church--individual persons communing with one another as a whole. Feeding, soothing, and yes, touching one another. Greeting each other, as the New Testament says, "with a holy kiss," not a virtual finger poke.
The next issue of Relief will open up for presales this week, and the stories, essays, and poems inside follow a similar theme of isolation vs. communion. I hope you will order a copy as soon as it is available. Not only will you help us make our print run, you'll also get to read some of the finest writing we've published so far.