There is also something in the video of an admonition to the Church lest we be too much like the old man in the video. And this is so for several reasons:
1. It would seem that the little man has been too long sheltered away in his apartment while the world has passed him by. And we in the Church may also have too long hunkered down in our churches and been afraid to engage the outside world.
For the last 50 years we have been very inwardly focused, debating about liturgy, debating who has power and authority in the Church, how to structure this or that internal program better etc. And while none of these are unimportant things, while we were focused inwardly, we lost the culture which has headed into warp drive away from us.
Job 1, (“Go and make disciples”) was set aside and almost wholly eclipsed by other important but lesser matters. And thus we see an old man in his apartment seemingly very out of touch with what has happened on the outside.
2. The text of the letter he writes is also telling for the Church. The gist of the letter, written in German is, Dear Friend, It is about time I write you again, not simply because I owe you some long lines, or my guilty conscience has gotten to me…. Indeed, as we have well remarked, in too many ways the Church has been too silent, at least collectively speaking. So many Catholics tell me they never hear of so many things from their pulpits that need addressing: Abortion, divorce, homosexuality, same sex “unions,” fornication, modesty, that missing Mass is a mortal sin, death, judgement, heaven and hell, euthanasia, witness, courage, and so forth.
Yes many Catholics would attest that Church leaders might well begin by saying, “It is about time that I write you, that I speak to you….”
And if that be the case of Catholics in the pew, how much more so unbelievers in the street. A Church too silent, to inward in her preoccupation, needs to begin the conversation with many again, and begin from scratch: “It is long past time that I speak with you…!”
3. And he is still typing using an old and outdated method of communication, the manual typewriter. For the Church, this too is a danger. While it is true that we proclaim an ancient and unchanging wisdom, the challenge for us it that our proclamation of it be non nova, sed novae (not a new thing, but newly or freshly)) proclaimed.
Not only have we been slow to pick up on the “new media” but we also struggle to proclaim our magnificent faith in compelling ways. We are doing much better, but have a long way to go. Many parishes and priests still have little Internet presence. Too many homilies are filled with abstractions and generalities and do not often enough apply the faith to modern issues and problems. Too many catechisms look like comic books from the 1970s.
And while some may ponder how to stay abreast of all the latest technology, it is too important merely to ignore as of utmost importance. Parishes and dioceses must invest resources and enlist skilled staff to ensure that all forms of modern communication are being used and are professional.
Please be certain dear reader that I do NOT mean the Church’s job is to be merely “relevant” and reflect today. That is not our job. Our job is to represent the teachings of our founder and head, Jesus Christ. But we cannot be content to use the equivalent of a manual typewriter.
We have to be wise as serpents in the use of new technology, and innocent as doves when it comes to embracing the false relevance insisted on by the worldly minded. The message cannot change, but the means must move along and be professional and savvy.
4. At last our little man journeys into the world and finds out what has been going on. A crisis and the inability to do business as usual drives our little man into the world. And thus finally the Church too, is now, like a sleeping giant coming alive and going back into the world. We cannot do business as usual and various crises in and out of the Church has driven us forth. The Church’s presence in the new media is growing and getting more professional. EWTN, Catholic Answers, NewAdvent.org, and huge numbers of Catholic sites are now on line and engaging the culture.
5. But then comes the twist – For the little man in the video, while having made progress, still misses the boat and we discover that his use of the technology, and understanding of it, is flawed, to say the least.
And thus we too in the Church must not simply think that having all the latest equipment etc is enough. We have to know how best and most effectively to use it. Otherwise we make silly mistakes similar to the man in the cartoon.
Enjoy this cartoon and strive to learn its lesson. Pray too for the Church that we learn to get it right and have the courage to journey outside the comfort of our four walls to preach the truth we have received effectively.