Connected Toward Communion: The Church and Social Communication in the Digital Age by Daniella Zsupan-Jerome is not a book first and foremost about social media or new media and definitely not a how-to manual for best practices in Catholic media. It is a survey of the Church’s teachings on social communications since Vatican II’s Inter Mirifica with an eye primarily toward how pastoral workers–ordained, religious, and lay–could be formed both to use media and to help others use it well. This is a theological and academic book (the author consistently refers to the book as “the study”) whose audience includes those who teach in seminaries and Catholic colleges and perhaps those in dioceses and parishes intent on training others to be Catholic communicators and/or literate media consumers.
If you want to understand a theology of communications, if you’re involved in preparing others for ministry, this is a good book for you. Walking through the various documents on social communications, starting with Inter Mirifica, then Communio et Progressio and then other works through the 80s and 90s and finally into the Internet era, we see the Church’s idea of the use of media for evangelization grow beyond specialized training for broadcast and print work into generalized ideas about media literacy and universal participation in the whole spectrum of social media.
If you want to understand a theology and history of Catholic social communications, Connected Toward Communion is a good resource. If you’re a professional or volunteer Catholic communicator at the national, diocesan or parish level, a good overview of the Church’s teachings and reflections on communications is helpful. Don’t get caught thinking that just because you focus today on web sites and social media that documents that predate them aren’t relevant. But if you’re looking for a book with practical tips and techniques, then you’ll want to also look at some of the other titles out there on the subject.
- Connected Toward Communion: Amazon.com