Here's hoping I get an invitation for next year.
(Pemptousia) - Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Digital Media and Orthodox Pastoral Care at Divani Apollon Palace, Vouliagmeni, 7, 8, 9 May 2015.Complete article here.
The Internet represents a missionary challenge, but any launch into cyberspace requires proper preparation and the right timing. This, among much else, was stressed at the 1st International Conference on Digital Media and Orthodox Pastoral Care, which was held under the auspices of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew between 7 and 9 May 2015, in the Holy Metropolis of Glyfada. The conference, the first of its kind in the world, was organized jointly by the web sites ‘Pemptousia’ from Greece, ‘OCN’, the Orthodox Christian Network, from the Unites States, and ‘Bogoslov’ from Russia, and was attended by 75 speakers from 21 countries, covering all the jurisdictions of the Orthodox Church.
A whole host of issues regarding the uses of the Internet were addressed from various points of view in the papers presented over the three days. The negative aspects of abuse and misuse were noted, as were the unrealistic expectations fostered by the normal use of modern digital means of communication and information. Also, emphasized were the dangers threatening both the human person and the relationship of the faithful to God and the Church in the reality shaped by new technologies.
Nevertheless, many contributors also highlighted the missionary challenge which has now arisen from the new social factors and the multi-faceted pastoral duty which the new technologies have created. The response of the faithful people of God to the initiatives which have been taken in various places for contact with the treasures of Christian spirituality was also presented.
At the same time, the opportunity was afforded to a large number of our brothers and sisters from every corner of the globe to present their digital work and ways of utilizing digital media in order to shape an authentic Christian conscience. Also highlighted was the nascent relationship between Orthodox monasticism and the Internet, its adoption into the realm of ascetic tradition and the proposals submitted by monks and nuns regarding mission work and the (re-)evangelization of the world.
Those present were unanimous in their view that any launch into cyberspace could not be undertaken without preparation or under unsuitable circumstances. An appropriate spiritual background is required on the part of the person in charge, as is an elevated sense of pastoral responsibility and, most assuredly, soundness and a Gospel ethos in the presentation of their discourse. Moreover, it should not be forgotten that the Internet is no more than a means and that therefore we ought not to use it indiscriminately, but rather in an ascetic manner, which means we should be imbued with a spirit of mindfulness, restraint and responsibility in our dealings with it. Only then will we emerge from the illusions of virtuality and our activities render tangible and beneficial results in real life.
A number of contributors made particularly valuable suggestions regarding the prospects for developing and coordinating the world of spiritual web-sites. It was proposed that the work of the conference be extended into other events and also that a permanent organ be created which would promote understanding, skills and mutual updating among those responsible for these sites- which, it is worth noting, function by and large on a voluntary basis and are motivated purely by missionary zeal. Another issue raised was the need for an independent agency to endorse those sites which have been recognized by their public as being sound and spiritually constructive.