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The Church as a Social Network

Jeffrey Bruno

Daniel McInerny - published on 01/16/14

The phrase “global village” that John Paul uses in The Rapid Development was famously coined by Marshall McLuhan, though later McLuhan preferred the phrase, “global theater.” So here’s another analogy to help illuminate the special nature of social communications in a digital age. The world of social media is a virtual and global “theater” in which we are all both spectators and actors. Combining John Paul’s two analogies, we might say that the world of digital communications is a theater where many people, especially perhaps young people, are seeking an unknown god.

In this light I would like to suggest the following theological definition of our modern social media: social media is the whole community seeking Holy Communion.

Not that checking Twitter to see who might be live tweeting the Oscars is a sacramental act. But even checking Twitter or Facebook or Google+ for the latest buzz imitates, consciously or not, the divine communion we are longing for when we approach the altar at Mass.

Consider what the Eucharist offers us:  

1. The Happiness of knowing that we are loved by our Heavenly Father; that we are held in his gaze

2. The realization of our Identity as sons and daughters of God

3. Access to Supernatural Power or grace

4. Contact with the ultimate reality–that is, Truth

5. The Unity of being in communion with God and his Mystical Body

6. The terrible Beauty of consuming the sacrifice of Christ

7. A portal into Eternity

These characteristics of the Eucharist help make up a crazy acronym: “HisTube.” The ultimate destiny of social media is not YouTube but HisTube. Social media is a kind of imitation of, or precursor to, Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist and our communication with it.

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Tags:
CatholicismPope John Paul IISacramentsSocial Media
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