Thanks to modern social media, you may have noticed the firestorm that has ensued after Miley Cyrus’ provocative dance routine at the MTV Video Music Awards a couple of weeks ago. Moments after the performance was broadcast live on television, the video of it went viral on Youtube, getting over 6 million views. This event also elicited an enormous response all across the internet, from twitter, to major news outlets like ABCnews, CBSnews, CNN and Fox News, as well as outcry all across the blogosphere with stories of parents writing to their daughters and sons about what it means to “grow up”.
However, I propose that for Christians modern means of communication, especially the internet, can have a much nobler purpose. In his encyclical letter Redemptoris Missio, Bl. John Paul II talks about modern communication becoming the new Aeropagus: a new place to exchange ideas, to create culture and to inspire or influence our society. It becomes our duty as Christians, then, to embrace new forms of media to preach and spread the saving message of Jesus.
For Bl. John Paul II, though, this is not enough. “Involvement in the mass media, however, is not meant to merely strengthen the preaching of the Gospel. There is a deeper reality involved here: since the very evangelization of modern culture depends to a great extent on the influence of the media, it is not enough to use the media simply to spread the Christian message and the Church’s authentic teaching. It is also necessary to integrate that message into the “new culture” (Redemptoris Missio 37). How do we embrace the internet as a means, not just to change, but to help create a new culture centered and focused upon Christ?