Connections and Communities: What a Great (“New”) Idea!
Almost every day you see articles in the secular world that tout some healthy method or best practice or enlightened application. Isn’t it amusing when they claim that this is “new?”
In January 2016, I wrote about an interview between Bill Moyers and Marty Kaplan (Professor of Entertainment, Media and Society at the University of Southern California). They were touting the value of a “media fast.” They recommended physically getting away to a quiet location for several days. This way one could “fast” from the world and the nose. It would be a kind of retreat. Tom Shakley is a former student of mine. In the article, “Unplugging Sundays,” he talks about demolishing social media on Sundays. “The Day of Rest” should be a day when we have a Sabbath from technology.
Wow, what a concept. We’ve been “touting” that idea since the time of St. Benedict (400 AD).
Lisa Marie Platske is a coach, speaker, and International Best-Selling Author. She has mentored over 10,000 trailblazing entrepreneurs, consultants and corporate leaders. She helps them to grow a bigger vision, create a meaningful brand, and position their expertise. That way they are seen, heard, and rewarded for their message.
One area on which she has been recently focussing on is the idea of “community.” I was reading one of her articles entitled, What True Connection Is Not – and Is – and Why You Need to Know the Difference. It was featured on her company website, Upside Thinking. It had to do with the topic of “community” and “connection.” (Spoiler alert! The Catholic Church has some experience in these two areas.)
Last year, she created the 2nd edition of her book Connection: The New Currency. How Everyday Women Collaborate to Build Wealth, Community, and Prosperity. As Lisa writes,
We live in the most connected time the world has ever seen and yet it doesn’t always feel that way. It’s possible to talk with people on the other side of the planet and see them on a video screen as if they were sitting next to you. With a few keystrokes, you can send a text or email to a friend on the other side of the globe, and get a message back in a matter of moments. You can have partnerships and collaborators in business on multiple continents.
Social media has created a false sense of connection because now you and I are “connected” online yet live in different communities and seldom actually talk or get to spend time together. There are many people who feel disconnected and alone. Many suffer silently in their own lives not wanting to rock the boat. Countless others who look like they have it all with the trappings of financial and business success on the outside are lonely in their own homes.
As a result, most people lack the intimacy that comes from deep friendships and relationships. The consequences showing up in research findings are: 1) clinical depression has increased, and 2) loneliness has been linked to disease. Human beings are communal creatures and need connections to prosper and flourish.
Ascension Press is a Catholic media company. For 20 years, they have helped Catholics have an encounter with Jesus Christ. They have offered Bible studies, sacramental prep programs, Q&A-style books and free online videos. They have helped over 1,000,000 Catholics and 8,000 parishes by producing more than 50 faith formation programs. Everything that they do has been focused on encountering “connecting” with Christ. They believe that the “secret” to an encounter with God isn’t so secret … it can all be found in the promise made by Jesus himself:
For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them (Matthew 18:20).
There it is – that community/connection thing again. This is not a new idea. This is an area in which the Catholic church is very comfortable – because we have been doing it ever since Jesus Christ started doing it 2,000 years ago.
Recently Ascension Press rolled out a new program called “Radical Communities.” Michael Gormley (who did our parish mission about two years ago here at S. Monica ) introduces the idea :
Mike says that Ascension is “trying to help build a culture of community. Mike Gormley’s words seem to echo those of Lisa Platske. “Even though we have been technologically connected, we have never been more relationally divided.”
Hospitality is at the heart of a community. It’s something that Catholics have done for centuries, but we need to revisit the idea and re-craft the way we do it. We need to restore this sense of community within our communities. We need to devote ourselves again to fellowship and the breaking of bread with one another.