Criticizing God on the Internet

Criticizing God on the Internet

“God on the Internet is the title of Jonathan Last’s article in the December issue of First Things. It is both another roundup of religious and specifically Catholic web sites, and a critique of the phenomenon of people “doing” so much religion online.

He has a problem with the formation of online communities defined by their like-mindedness.

On the Internet, those dissatisfied with what they find in their religious brick-and-mortar communities can simply retreat into a virtual world in which they are surrounded entirely by like-minded people.

But is that any different from the parish-hopping we see today among people who want a more conservative or more liberal priest or an older or younger crowd or what have you? Is this just a problem of the Internet or is such compartmentalization in evidence across the spectrum of life. I will note that Last’s own magazine, The Weekly Standard, is itself a conservative magazine which one presumes seeks to attract like-minded readers.

Other criticisms

Last also bemoans the politicization he sees on religious sites.

Your Catholic Voice is a political action group devoted to “shaping” the government, “from the County Courthouse to the halls of Congress.” The website Priests for Life is similarly engaged in the nuts-and-bolts of political action.

But aren’t Catholics called to engage the world? We are to shape it, to bring the Gospel into the public sphere. There’s nothing wrong with grassroots groups who want to motivate Catholics to make a difference at all levels of governments.