US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Technology: Too much of good thing?

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The debate on whether to embrace or reject modern communication technology has spread to Lenten devotions.  Italian diocese have suggested giving up texting as well as other technologies—from TV to social networking—for Lent this year.

USA Today religion reporter Cathy Lynn Grossman just doesn’t get it. Some say it contradicting the pope’s praise and use of social networking, texting, and other technologies (see blog post on the Vatican YouTube site), though the man who just made a week-long Lenten retreat hardly advocates being connected 24-7.

In the U.K. Times article, a theologian and the editor of the Vatican newspaper both criticized the move. “You might as well launch a campaign to turn off the electric light and stay in the dark. This wave of bizarre proposals risks making the whole idea of Lent banal,” theologian Gianni Gennari said.

Instead he suggests the traditional idea of giving up coffee and giving the money to the poor. No offense if you gave up coffee, but talk about banal! It’s the same thing year after year--rotating coffee, chocolate, alcohol, or what have you. Does it make a difference in your life? If not, the practice loses meaning, and you just stop following it. What’s the point?

"I gave up Lent for Lent.” I’ve probably said it before and I’ve heard it from a lot of people, too. Oh well for trying to update the ancient practice of Lenten fasting.  

Critics also seem to be ignoring the social justice connection made by the bishops:  The material in cell phones fuels the deadly resource conflict in the Congo, where it is mined.  

As a young adult Catholic, it seems like these are the messages we need from bishops—making a Catholic practice relevant in today’s culture, connecting it to social justice, and challenging us to pay attention our spirits rather than our cell phones.