franciscan - May 1998
© Copyright, The Society of Saint Francis, 1998
God on the Internet
by Michael Hagger SFO
The Internet is in some ways an electronic world with both the good and the bad that we meet in everyday life. Just like a visit to a newsagent, where, if we choose to look at the top shelves of the magazine racks we will find a selection of unsavoury publications, such material is also available on the Net. But unlike the newsagent, where we will find little of specifically Christian interest, the bulk of his stock, aiming at being commercial, is orientated to a world which emphasises self and me first.
The Net has a huge amount of information which is very specifically Christian, and representing the Body of Christ, from the members who place most emphasis on the sacramental to those who have difficulty with any form of sacrament and major on the Word of God.
This very diverse view of the Church as found on the Net can make a significant contribution towards a better understanding of traditions which may seem alien to ourselves.
There are numerous Web sites offering items on prayer and liturgy posted by a wide variety of Christian traditions, ranging from the meaning of gestures, to the Byzantine liturgy of St John Chrysostom.
The Web site www.universalis.com offers the Divine Office of the day (The Liturgy of the Hours according to the Roman Rite). The Insight for Living site www.Insight.org offers a range of evangelical material and has a daily broadcast by Chuck Swindoll on Premier Radio (London Christian Radio). When writing an essay, recently I wanted to quote from Justin Martyr on baptism. I knew that I had nothing either in my notes or in the books on my shelf so, rather than travelling off to the seminary library, I connected to the Internet and made a search for Justin Martyr, which resulted in just two possible sites. The first turned out to be a parish but the second was the Christian Classics Ethereal Library server, at Wheaton College in America, offering me thirty-eight volumes of the Fathers of the Church. The Franciscan Institute Library, at St Bonaventure University, may be of interest to Franciscans and can be found at www.sbu.edu/friedsam/public_htmlbrochure/fibroch.htm. I conclude that God is very definitely alive and well on the Net, and why shouldn’t he be, as the creator and sustainer of all that is?
After all, in the Acts of the Apostles, Paul says ‘He is not far from each one of us, for in him we live and move and have our being.’ §
Michael Hagger is a member of the Roman Catholic Secular Franciscan Order.
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