Faith, Tatoos & Technology

Special from the Catholic Media Convention 2008 in Toronto

Considering that the majority of those involved in producing Catholic media are more likely concerned with receding hairlines and facelifts than body piercings and Facebook – is it any wonder that their publications are largely ignored by today’s youth?

According to one bright, articulate 17 year-old presenter at the Catholic Media Convention being held in Toronto this week, the best way for Catholic media organizations to connect with youth is to speak to them about issues and technologies that directly relate to them, to walk around in their shoes for awhile.

Youth Speak News is an exciting and relatively new feature (2003) of the Catholic Register national weekly that gives youth a chance to explore their own faith in light of contemporary issues. Youth are invited to share their views by responding to weekly opinion columns and articles or, if so inclined, to apply to be one of its young writers.

Salt & Light TV, which literally took root and grew out of the Canadian media coverage of World Youth Day in Toronto in 2002 – is another venue for youth to express and explore their Catholic faith. S & L, currently a subscriber-based digital cable channel, will soon be included as part of the Rogers VIP cable television package. S & L has produced engaging, high quality, meaningful programming on challenging issues of faith.

S & L encourages Catholics to get involved in their organization through: volunteer job opportunities, contests, feedback and donations.

The Catholic Register’s Youth Speak News and Salt & Light’s invitation to youth to learn more about and explore their faith, according to one of the teenage workshop presenters, would also give youth a break from the ‘pop culture slums’ they sometimes get caught up in.
Photo Courtesy –


The Promised Land

Before we even slipped the surly bonds of earth for the heavens above – I knew in my heart of hearts that we would be safe.

With a hot air balloon pilot by the name of Moses guiding us – how could we fail?

Oh sure, we faced temptations in the psychological wilderness: queries from jittery passengers like, what improvements have been made in the industry since the recent balloon fire tragedy? Can you actually steer this thing? Or, how quickly could you land this thing if you had to?

The pre-launch preparations took about 30 minutes – a pretty much ‘hurry up and wait’ event as giant fans filled the massive balloon with air. Then within a span of about 30 seconds 8 of us scrambled into the wicker style basket that would be our home for the next hour or so.

After the initial heart-pounding ‘shock and awe’ of launch and jolting blasts of hot air from the propane burners – we soon settled into the indescribable beauty, exhilaration and tranquility of flight.

Time stood still as we absorbed and marveled at the magnificent serenity of the moment and the lush landscape below. Moses had delivered to us, sweeping vistas of Waterloo Region . . . the ‘promised land’.

Our journey soon came to a fitting ecumenical end as we landed safely in the barren corn field of a welcoming Mennonite family.

A sweet toast of Champagne to our traveling companions, a safe journey and memories for a lifetime.

Thanks for the great Christmas gift kids!

Photo: M. Redfearn

Nothing’s going to change my world

In 1966 John Lennon got into a world of trouble by saying during an interview that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. He later clarified, correctly so, that his statement was taken out of context and that rather than implying that the Beatles were more important than Jesus, he was merely pointing out that rock and roll music at that time was probably more influential in the life of the typical teenager than was Jesus. Read more

Photo: Catholic Register

The medium and the message are one in Christ

During his recent whirlwind tour of the United States a number of media commentators noted the obvious differences between the more reserved, scholastic Pope Benedict XVI and his gregarious, camera-hugging predecesor, John Paul II.

John Paul II was a media superstar who could bedazzle and work a crowd as well if not better than any secular pop star could ever hope to.

Yet beneath the charming facade was a conservative who strongly discouraged dissent from the official party line. His more liberal-thinking bishops sometimes learned this fact the hard way after he added a punitive provision to the 1983 Code of Cannon Law so that those who disagreed with even nondefinitive Church teachings could be penalized.

Of course Benedict XVI’s reputation as a razor-sharp intellectual and formal ‘papal enforcer’ preceded his American visit. He also has the unenviable task of following in the daunting footsteps and filling the shoes of the flamboyant fisherman from Poland.

Regardless of the ‘medium’ or Pope who fills the role as spiritual leader of the Holy See, their human flaws, for example, encouraging freedom of religion while at the same time limiting freedom of thought, will always result in an inevitable tension between the medium and the message.

Perhaps the late Canadian media guru and Catholic convert Marshall McLuhan should have the last word:

“In Jesus Christ there is no distance or separation between the medium and the message. It’s the one case where we can say the medium and the message are in complete unison.”