Thursday, June 4, 2009
Letter from an Atenean Student
Last week, I received an e-mail from an Atenean student who is doing a thesis on the phenomenon of Catholic blogging. The Courage Philippines blog was chosen as one of the participants in his study and I want to share with you his letter and my answers to his questionnaire.
I am Miguel Ramirez, a student of MA Communication in the Ateneo de Manila University, and an alumnus of Don Bosco Canlubang. Currently, I am doing a paper on the phenomenon of Catholic Blogging, and its legitimacy and effectiveness for “online” catechesis. With your permission, I hope I can include your enriching blog as one of those which I will be citing in this paper.
It has been implied in this study that spirituality has slowly penetrated the vast internet community. With this, a “general evangelization” is assumed to be already taking place online.
However, as Catholics, the Catechism holds great importance in propagating our faith, and it seems that a culture of neglect has been given to these important tenets. As citizens of a highly online world, it is our concern to inculturate the Catechism to reach more and more readers around the world, specifically through blogging as a tool. But the question is: How effective and legitimate is blogging in propagating the truths of the Catechism?
Here are ten (10) questions which I beg you would take time out to reflect and answer. Please feel free to leave your comments at the bottom. Thank you!
1. Blog name.
Courage Philippines (www.couragephilippines.blogspot.com)
2. Around what date/year did you start this blog?
I started this blog February of this year.
3. How often do you update your blog?
I update our blog weekly and because we are all busy people, I make use of a blogger feature wherein I can schedule blog postings ahead of time.
4. What is the purpose/mission of your blog?
The primary purpose of the Courage blog is to propagate awareness of the Catholic Church’s teaching homosexuality. But in our blog, it’s not all about SSA (same-sex attraction). You will also find links to numerous Catholic websites and to topics such as human sexuality, chastity, and psychospiritual sources because we believe in the total development of the human person.
5. Describe your ideal target audience.
Our ideal target audience is a person struggling with SSA, who might be into the gay lifestyle or just confused about his sexual identity. We as a support group aims to give spiritual support and guidance to these people. Our blog has something for everyone and is not just confined to persons with SSA. We have a “goldmine” of resources in our blog that you can use to enrich your emotional, psychological, and spiritual life and we strive to keep the blog up to date.
6. Do you consider your blog Catechetical in nature, yes or no?
Partly yes and partly no.
a. Have you posted/shared/discussed articles from the Catechism? If you have, please insert a link to a sample of these posts.
Yes. Here is the link: http://couragephilippines.blogspot.com/2009/03/pastoral-care-of-homosexual-persons.html I must add though that if you will scroll down the sidebar, you will find direct links to catechetical materials. This is so in order to make it always visible and just a click away to our blog readers. You can find this under the sections of Faith Matters, Sacraments, and Homosexuality and the Catholic Church.
b. What are your sources as regards this Catechetical information?
Online texts of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and some Catholic websites.
c. If your blog does not contain articles/posts from the Catechism, what do you think is your blog’s unique means of spreading the Catholic faith?
Apart from catechetical sources, my numerous links to other Catholic websites and my live EWTN TV and Radio feeds. Now, that’s 24/7 round-the-clock authentic Catholic evangelization online!
7. From general comments and feedbacks, describe the readers of your blog. (Gender, age, social class, educational attainment, occupation, etc.)
I do not have a solid reference for this but most of my readers I guess are fellow bloggers like myself – stay at home moms, students, professionals, OFWs, foreigners, and generally people from all walks of life. If you will notice on my sidebar near the bottom of the page, you can see the exact numbers of people visiting my blog and their nationalities. I have had visitors from all over the world spread across six continents with the majority coming from the Philippines of course, followed by the US, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Great Britain, Canada, Singapore, Australia, Norway, and even from Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Qatar.
8. Modesty aside, what do you think has been the most uplifting feedback given by a reader to your blog? (Please give the comment) Who was this person: a family member, personal friend, online friend, an anonymous reader, etc.?
Since I started blogging here, I received quite a number of very good comments (and not so good ones too). You can visit this link to read their reviews: www.linkreferral.com/reviewlist.pl?reviewee=226530&category=social&subcategory=general&startrow=0 So far, the most uplifting comment I have received came from an anonymous reader: “Love your blog. I have many friends who struggle with the issues you presented on your blog. I will definitely tell them about your blog and encourage them to visit you. It's so inspiring and has a lot of interesting content on there. Good work and good luck.”
9. Do you think that Catholic blogs are a legitimate and effective source of Catechism in today’s technologically savvy society? Why? Why not?
Yes. I have visited other Catholic blogs whose contents range from purely orthodox matters to inspirational and gospel-centered ones. Some blogs tackle day-to-day issues affecting the Church, etc. These blogs are a legitimate source of catechetical instructions as well as information on current events and issues affecting the life of the Church. Catechesis is a joint responsibility of both the priests and the laity, but unfortunately many of us are lacking in catechetical instructions. One great thing about online catechesis is that people can access them “on demand”. Unlike books which you keep tucked away once you finish reading, a blog is updated on a regular basis hence you can follow it continuously (provided it is regularly updated), thereby getting new information every time you visit it. There is always something new to learn and discuss.
10. What factors do you think contribute to the effectiveness of a Catholic Blog in propagating the Catechism? I can enumerate three factors.
(1) Catholic blogs not only present the catechism per se, but provides a venue for discussion and interaction. The reader can post comments and questions about a certain topic which generates a discussion of ideas and interaction between the blogger and blog readers.
(2) A Catholic blog, like any other blog, can be easily accessed by anyone anywhere as long as there is internet connection and this is where Catholic blogs gain an edge over traditional print media such as books. In our highly technological age, internet use has become the primary means of obtaining information and Catholic bloggers utilize this advantage to reach out to more people wherever they are in the world.
(3) Catholic blogs are not limited to the printed word. They can utilize and incorporate multimedia channels like videos, podcasts, audio files, and live TV and radio feeds. These media can be integrated in a blog just like mine and can be very effective as well.
Thanks for including our blog in your thesis. I hope my answers have answered most of your queries about Catholic blogging. If you know people who struggle with SSA, kindly refer them to our blog.
I wish you well in your studies. God bless you.
Please email the questionnaire to _____ on or before May 25, 2009, Monday. Sorry if this came in such a short notice.
Thank you very much for your time and effort! God will bless you a hundredfold!
Miguel F. Ramirez