Wednesday, October 30, 2013

About the College

Tiffany at Life of a Catholic Librarian has posted a "linkup" appeal, so I will add my own 2 bits. (Tech humor)

She asks several questions:

(1) How you got started in social media; (2) How you started your blog or podcast
I answer: I am a computer scientist and a Chestertonian, and it was through Nancy Brown at Flying Stars back in 2005; she's a Chestertonian and the great biographer of Frances Blogg, who was of course Chesterton's Favourite Blogg. Since 2005 I have sporadically posted comments there, or elsewhere, and have also written a periodic column on the old blogg of the American Chesterton Society. More recently I have been busy with writing the Saga, as mentioned here or on its own site,; a new series called "Case Studies in Computer Science" is about to be launched. One of my readers remarked that he had never read a book on such a technical matter which quoted Chesterton so often... so you may know what to expect. But it is a tech book, NOT a meditation; it also has a good deal on pedagogy and related matters. (I hope to have it ready in the near future.)

(3) Why you value our online Catholic community
One of the major mysteries in my Saga De Bellis Stellarum is a curious organization called the College. Now, as you may already know from Chesterton (ILN Aug 10 1907, CW27:523-8) there are three reasons why secrecy is permitted, and the first of these is the most famous, governing mystery stories and wrapped Christmas Presents: these secrets are kept solely in order that they may be revealed at the proper time; what we know as "the fullness of time". Anyone who violates this secrecy deserves the most severe punishment:

The man who tells the truth about a detective story is simply a wicked man, as wicked as the man who deliberately breaks a child's soap-bubble - and he is more wicked than Nero. To give away a secret when it should be kept is the worst of human crimes; and Dante was never more right than when he made the lowest circle in Hell the Circle of the Traitors. It is to destroy one human pleasure so that it can never be recovered...
[GKC ILN Nov 7 1908, CW28:210]
Hence, while I truly want to tell you more, I can only point to the Saga, and say, "The online Catholic community is valued by me because it is so much like the College." But since that is very self-serving, I will say it another way.

The Catholic online community - indeed every online community when it is well-ordered, honest and charitable and striving to be virtuous - provides a slight faint foretaste of the Communion of Saints, of that "great multitude, dressed in white, which no one could count" that St. John saw, and asked about. It would take me a dozen pages to discuss this at length; issues of things like the various networking protocols, the mysteries of communication between humans - and between angels! - things like how a woman of Nazareth manages to handle thousands of concurrent input requests in dozens of languages, some of which didn't even exist when she was alive... all this and more.

But especially since it helps demonstrate Subsidiarity: the idea that this marvel provides us with a way of transmitting an appeal for PRAYER to more people, in a faster and more wide-spread way, than has ever existed before! It is, as the great Marconi said when he introduced the Pope on the Vatican radio station, the idea that with this technical marvel God has provided the faithful with the comfort of hearing the voice of the Holy Father, wherever they may be.

The same is now true for us, in a lesser degree. We have colleagues who are as close as e-mail. (Or, supply your favourite electronic extension here.) By the very nature of the hierarchy of the Church, every single Catholic is related to every other single Catholic through no more than five other persons... and such a tool helps us relate in more direct ways, with greater convenience for all concerned.

Let us, therefore, as professed Field Agents of the College, sworn to "Watch and Pray" [see Mark 14:38] remember each other frequently in our prayers: we must face such enemies in our daily lives! But as Bernie Brown remarked:

We have allies who are more than a match for our adversaries.
[PJF Ite Milites Audaces]