Catholic Memes

I meant to post this sooner, just never had time to get around to it... there's a new Catholic Meme site around, aptly named Catholic Memes. An example of what you'll find browsing the site:

Wonka Meme - Catholic Meme - Church teaching

There's tons more where that came from. The site is a bit like an expanded LOLSaints; whereas centers around the lives of the saints, and incorporates little snippets of info about each saint pictured, Catholic Memes puts the message in the meme. Some may call that a bit more shallow, but I think they're funny nonetheless—with a healthy dose of sarcasm!

I'm not sure who runs Catholic Memes, but it looks like their first post was on August 10, 2012, which is not too long ago.

Catholic New Media Conference (CNMC) 2012 - Wrap-up

CNMC 2012

This year's Catholic New Media Conference (held in Arlington, TX), came by so fast I didn't really have time to prepare any blog posts before hand, post pictures during the conference, or summarize individual sessions.

In years past (2011 and 2010), I've tried to dump pretty much everything I learned on my blog... but this year's CNMC was so much more broad-reaching that there was no way I could keep up with all the great content!

Tech Summit

Along with Matthew Warner, I helped organize a Tech Summit on the first day of this year's conference. We talked about mobile apps, the mobile web, the Catholic development community, and much more. We wanted to try to bring together individuals involved in Catholic web design and development, software programming, etc., to share stories and think about ways we can help each other and the Church to have a stronger influence in the tech world, and an improved channel of communication through the Internet.

Some highlights from the Tech Summit:

  • Josh Simmons from eCatholic spoke about what makes a good parish website—design, content, freshness, and mobile-friendliness.
  • During an 'App and Development Expo,' I presented the Catholic Diocese App, an open-source project to help every Catholic Diocese have an app for iPhone and/or Android.
  • Dane Falkner of Surgeworks talked about development processes and the reasons why (or why not) your organization should have an app. Focus and good wireframing are key to having a good and usable app.
  • Andrew Jones talked about Logos' bible software for Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, and some of the great features for learning sacred scripture and other texts.
  • Jeffrey Pinyan introduced his Catechism API, which allows developers to integrate the Catechism in their websites and apps, and even has a nifty feature that allows embedding snippets of the Catechism in a website with all references and info intact.
  • Flocknote introduced its new iPhone app (waiting for App Store approval).
  • Matthew Warner and I spoke about the importance of our collaboration and use of standards in Catholic development, so we can be a relevant force in the world today, and in the future, when it comes to software and websites.
  • Flocknote announced a Catechism mailing list for the Year of Faith, where you can sign up to receive daily Catechism readings courtesy of the Catechism API.

Jeff Geerling and Matthew Warner at CNMC Tech Summit

  • I spoke about Open Source Catholic and my hope that it will be a center for collaboration between Catholic web and app developers, designers, and others.

CNMC Celebration and Networking Day

Because of my involvement in the Tech Summit, I missed the other great presentations on Wednesday... but on Thursday, I was in the main CNMC conference room, with sponsor booths lined up in the back, along with many others (I hear there were something like 100 more registrants this year than last!).

Things kicked off with a great overview of the past seven years of Catholic New Media involvement by Fr. Roderick, and an eerie but poignant video highlighting the importance of bringing the soul to the Internet.

Throughout the day I built up my cnmc-attendees list on Twitter (I've been trying to include everyone I've noticed at every CNMC for the past four years!).

Some great names in Catholic new media introduced some awesome ideas and spoke about a diverse array of topics:

  • Elizabeth Scalia of The Anchoress told us about her story, her methods for dealing with less-than-kind commenters, and her writing process. She mentioned that email from her readers really helped her keep going sometimes; as long as we let the Holy Spirit work through us, we're letting God work through us and affect people's lives.
  • Rob Kaczmark from Spirit Juice Studios gave a ton of great advice to those creating video content on YouTube (and elsewhere). Professional production costs money (so don't cheap out!), other Churches and organizations are putting out tons of high quality and modern content—Catholics, not as much. Makeup and hair are important for good video—even for 80-year-old priests! (btw, my YouTube channel is here: geerlingguy).
  • Brandon Vogt talked about how other groups (Mohrmans, Atheists, etc.) are killing it online, while Catholics are lagging behind. SEO (making our stuff show up in Google and YouTube searches) is really important. Having good site navigation and structure that is user-centered, and using language that's not 'Churchy' and incomprehensible to non-Catholics... these are virtues of good Catholic presences online.
  • Bishop Christopher Coyne, auxiliary bishop in Indianapolis, brought a little Augustine into the discussion. We need to be 'conciliating the hostile' online. We should always take the high road. We should preach Christ, then His Church. Content is king, but quality is queen. Talk more about what you're for, not what you'reagainst. Step out of a conversation if it becomes ad hominem.

Collin Raye CMN Trade Show Dinner

  • Aletia, a new website set up by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications was announced at a Catholic Marketing Network dinner (see more here). (Collin Raye also played a few songs and shared a story from his own life during the dinner).

Catholic Bloggers' Summit

Because of a meeting taking place most of the middle of the day, I was only able to attend the first and last parts of the Catholic Bloggers' Summit on Friday... but it was still a great experience.

Jennifer Fulwiler, of Conversion Diary, reminded us of the importance of proper use of time online in her keynote. She said, "How many minutes of your day do you spend online? How many in prayer? What's your ratio?" The world won't stop if you are away from your blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc. It's true! Your blog is not about you. People read blogs more for the stories than for the argument. Be ready to step away from the blog if the Holy Spirit calls you to do so.

Some breakout sessions were held by a variety of bloggers, and from what I've read on Twitter, they were equally enlightening. I'll try to summarize them when I can, but for now, just head over to the #cnmc12 hashtag on Twitter and read through midday tweets on August 30, 2012.

At the end of it all, I and others talked a bit longer, said our farewells, and headed either to a bed to get some much-needed sleep, or a bar to continue the 'IRL' conversations later into the evening.

Flocknote Meeting

The CNMC was the first time all the Flocknote staff met in person since we hired our new Happiness Engineer, Kaitlyn Rawley. We had a great all-hands-on-deck meeting during part of the last day of CNMC, and during the meeting, we snapped some new staff photos. We'll be updating things here and there accordingly, but here are a few headshots to give some idea of how crazy (and crazy-awesome) the Flocknote team is:

Matthew Warner - Flocknote     Kaitlyn Rawley     Jeff Geerling - Flocknote

We're working on some awesome new things at Flocknote, and it's really the best communications tool for parishes and other Catholic organizations that have a variety of ministries and groups! Check out how Flocknote can help your organization.

Odds and Ends

The conference was awesome. This was by far the best CNMC to date, especially with regard to the diversity of the attendees. I met people working in social media, software development, communications, blogging, marketing, and other fields, and I think everyone was able to take away something great.

The WiFi and Internet connection at the conference was very reliable and fast (here's basically how it was set up: WiFi for small conferences), and kudos to Steve Nelson, Fr. Roderick, Maria Johnson, Inge Loots, and all those from SQPN who helped make this such a wonderful event!

Lake at CNMC with Sports Arenas
Lake and sports stadiums in Arlington, TX; conference center out of frame to right.

I'm looking forward to #cnmc13, are you?

More resources and other summary posts:

LCWR Assembly in St. Louis

For the past few months, the LCWR (Leadership Conference of Women Religious) has been gearing up for an annual convention in St. Louis (my home diocese), where they'll have a keynote by Barbara Marx Hubbard.

Google finds some interesting tidbits about Hubbard:

"Agents of conscious evolution training." — her newest course, offered via her site.

"Birth 2012; Cocreating a planetary shift. It is time to activate a new era of human possibility and potential!" — Also from her site.

"Conscious evolution is the evolution of evolution, from unconscious to conscious choice. While consciousness has been evolving for billions of years, conscious evolution is new. It is part of the trajectory of human evolution, the canvas of choice before us now as we recognize that we have come to possess the powers that we used to attribute to the gods." — From her site's description of 'conscious evolution'.

"Dr. Hubbard is working to understand and catalyze the actions needed to navigate a quantum change to avoid global collapse. She is also working on the synthesis of the principles and practices of Conscious Evolution and New Thought with Reverend Jim Lockard. She is a founder and member of the Santa Barbara Conscious Evolution Community. She is initiating the SYNCON Process, for synergistic convergence to overcome the polarization in the United States by..." — Bio on Enlightenment Next.

I could go on linking to and quoting a variety of descriptions of Barbera and her work, but even taking about a minute to research her work and foundations, it's apparent she would not be a good fit for a keynote at a Catholic event.

At least she uses Drupal!

The LCWR is being investigated by the CDF (Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith), and things like having Hubbard headlining their annual conference does not help their standing.

I typically avoid commenting on issues like this, because I know how easy it is for people's feelings to get hurt, but sometimes things get so ridiculous that I can't stand being silent. It seems our Archbishop will be showing his support for the event by delivering an opening greeting. I'm not a bishop, nor a statesman, but I just don't see the logic in giving support to such an event. Simply allowing the event would be enough to make me nervous; attending and welcoming the guests seems like a stamp of approval.

If we want to save the LCWR from losing their standing in the Church, I suggest we do so by first praying for them, and second calling them out on their poor selection of a keynote speaker. You wouldn't ignore the speck in your friend's eye if you could help that friend remove it and live a better life, would you? (Of course, you should also be working on the plank in your own eye.)

"Noli irritare leonem" – Don't disturb the lion

Someone shared a link to slides from a recent lecture put on by Credo St. Louis by Rev. Michael Witt concerning religious liberty and the current furor over the HHS contraception mandate.

Noli Irritare Leonem - Crest of Archbishop Peter Richard Kenrick

During the presentation, Fr. Witt spoke of the episcopal motto of Archbishop Kenrick, Noli irritare leonem (seen in the picture of his crest above, which I took during a visit to the Old Cathedral a few years ago). It is translated, "Don't disturb the lion," and conveys a special message today: don't try stripping us [Catholics] of our religious liberty, or you'll get the full force of our fury!*

Kenrick responded forcefully to an earlier attempt by the Missouri legislature to 'cage the lion', so to speak, by telling the clergy entrusted to his care to refuse endorsement of the 'Drake Constitution' after the civil war—a move that put him in hot waters with the law, but showed that the lion could not be caged, and would fight aggressively to protect his freedom!

We need more lions today—the presentation shows pretty clearly the progression of the HHS mandate through the past couple years, and why it's extremely detrimental to the freedom of religion in the U.S.A., and does so within a good historical context.

Let's work and pray to keep America free and great!

(Download the PDF of the presentation here via Credo St. Louis.)

*Fury meaning the full brunt of prayer, lobbying, and votes from the Catholic faithful to protect religious liberty, in this case.


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