I awoke to a 264 page love letter from Francis this morning. You know, Francis, as in the Pope, the spiritual leader of the Catholic Church? You can follow him on Twitter @Pontifex. He often trends there.
Does that sound strange to you, knowing that you can read the Pope’s thoughts through his tweets? Twitter is my number one source for real-time news, I am what you might call a “power user”, yet this still feels new to me. Having grown up Catholic, my interactions with the Pope (John Paul II at the time) were mediated by teachers, priests, even journalists. I won’t spend time talking about my own personal religious beliefs, suffice to say that I always found it more practical to speak with God directly, through prayer.
Whether God exists or not will always be up for debate. What is certain is that people need comfort and guidance. Leaders of the Church, whatever that religion might be, have always struggled with getting their message to as many people as possible. If you think about it, this is probably why our religions become so organized, because Church leaders want the message to remain consistent, whether it’s in a book, ritual, or lifestyle.
Humanity through Technology
So the Pope’s on Twitter, that’s great. You know who’s been on Twitter even longer? The Dalai Lama @DalaiLama, a spiritual leader with an appeal that goes beyond the religious, reaching even the most secular compassionate mind. I’m sure there are many more examples of inspirational leaders who use social media to reach their followers, and most of them are not religious. So why am I putting so much emphasis on spirituality? Because that is what we mainly use technology for.
You may not think about it as spirituality, but every email, Facebook share, tweet, or private message is a call for help. You need someone’s attention. You want to know if someone likes you. Not just anybody, you know exactly who you are hoping will see your message even before you send it. We use modern tools to have human conversations, beyond geography, time zones, even religious beliefs. It’s ok! Don’t be afraid. Technology will never take away our humanity. Everything we build is designed to help us connect and communicate.
Reaching Every Body
So back to the letter from the Pope #AmorisLaetitia: it’s about redefining what it means to be a family beyond legal and ritualistic mandates, and more around love. If you’re familiar with the Catholic religion, you know it’s a big deal. If you’re not an expert on Catholic dogma, then let me tell you what it means:
- We all make mistakes
- We all want to be loved
- We can all feel welcome
In centuries, even decades past, it would have taken months if not years for a message from the Pope to travel the world. Now, we can all have a lively conversation about it within hours, regardless of geography, time zones, or religious beliefs. More importantly, each of us has access to the original letter, not needing to rely on the motives of those who may have intercepted it, translated it, or even interpreted it for us. This technology connection to the Pope is the closest thing Catholics have ever had to prayer.
Can you think of other examples of how we are using technology to increase our spirituality? I am sure we will find new tools to communicate, because many of us believe that within every body, there is a soul.