- Bingo Hall!
- 21st Century
- For Theology & Church
- Pope Francis Resource Library
- Our Authors
Who am I online? Are cyber-friendships real?
Social Media, Spirituality and Community
Understanding the new coordinates of cyberspace, community and faith
The internet has become an existentially new reality of our lives. It stirs questions about who we are as people, and what we long for in the depths of our souls.
Jesuit Antonio Spadaro is one of Pope Francis’ close advisors on social media and cybertheology. He offers here clear, and simple principles to understand the spirituality of the internet, its promise and peril.
We the people of the 21st century are creatures of the World Wide Web, always online, always connected, always communicating. And we—like all others throughout history—have created this technology in our own image,
which gives this creation of ours a spiritual dimension as well.
Reviews and endorsements
"We the people of the twenty-first century are creatures of the World Wide Web, always online, always connected, always communicating. And we—like all others throughout history—have created this technology in our own image, which gives this creation of ours a spiritual dimension as well."
Antonio Spadaro, S. J., editor of La Civiltà Cattolica, has developed a new term for the computer age: cybertheology. In this short but significant book, he speaks to Catholics and others about ways to approach the Internet, since it is obvious that this is a technology that can be used for good or for ill. Spadaro asserts that its powerful, instantaneous ability to link to human thought processes indicates that the World Wide Web is inherently enmeshed with spiritual energy. The Internet is a "place" where people can gather, become a family and uphold one another. Despite its noted dangers, the Internet can be a place for evangelism. Spadaro believes that cybertheology will be a positive movement, but only, he advises, so long as those who want to develop Christian cyber-communion present authentic, whole selves on the Internet, avoiding the temptation to use this medium as a toy for projecting unreal or partial personalities. He asks, "Can we live out the Gospel online?" and answers, “Yes.”
Quoting from such diverse sources as Pope Francis and Marshall McLuhan, Spadaro presents his ideas with a combination of sensitivity and logic, convincing the reader from the first page that the Internet can be not just a link to spiritual resources but an integral part of religious life; not merely a technological toy, but a rich, rewarding environment as real as one's physical life away from the screen. He quotes Pope Francis as saying it is ideally "a network not of wires, but of people.” Spadaro urges his fellow religionists to create online "churches" in the same way that big business has successfully fostered social networking. Highly innovative, Friending God provides philosophical support for those who perceive the positive possibilities of the "sharing" inherent in the World Wide Web.
—The US Review of Books
"Once in a while a book comes along that is "more than a book" and it changes your perceptions of reality in profound ways, rather than just providing information or entertainment. That happened for me in reading Friending God by Antonio Spadaro. This brief text is the most elegant prose work I have ever read on the spirituality of community as experienced via the Internet and in Social Media. We owe Fr. Spadaro a huge debt of gratitude for illuminating a deeper understanding of one of today's most pervasive cultural realities and influences."
—Roy M Carlisle, Acquisitions Director, The Independent Institute