Popecasting

So you want to download Pope Benedict XVI into your iPod?

You might think the Vatican as old fashioned. Think again. It is actually one of the first global institutions that took advantage of podcasting. Chances are, you’ve probably heard about podcasting only a few days ago, but Vatican Radio has been utilizing this relatively new technology since early this year. And yes, the Holy Father has his own podcast. Well, sort of.

Podcasting is basically the process of producing audio and making it available through websites so listeners may download the audio content into their audio player. Papal messages, especially those the Pontiff delivers during his customary weekly general audience at the Vatican, are available for download from the Vatican Radio website. You have a choice of formats. You can download his minutes-long speeches and reflections either as .ram or mp3.

And if you find it hard to understand his German-flavored English, you can read the full text of his messages in the Pope Page. Call it the Holy Father’s show notes or his papal blog. If you have spare time to send him comments and feedbacks you can actually do so by emailing him. His email address is benedictxvi@vatican.va. I am not joking. Try it for yourself. Plus you can subscribe to the Vatican Radio’s podcast feed using this url: http://feeds.feedburner.com/vaticanradio105live.

My hope is that the Pope will be able to touch the hearts of people all over the world and strengthen their faith through his downloadable teachings, pronouncements, and reflections. And I too hope that podcasters around the world may use the technology to communicate sound moral values and to advance a culture of love, peace, and solidarity.

Forbes attacks blogs, bloggers

Forbes has written a scathing attack on the blogosphere, calling web logs as the “prized platform of an online lynch mob spouting liberty but spewing lies, libel and invective.”

The article by Dan Lyons said blogs started as online diaries but later became the “ultimate vehicle for brand-bashing, personal attacks, political extremism and smear campaigns.”

Lyons added in his article:

It’s not easy to fight back: Often a bashing victim can’t even figure out who his attacker is. No target is too mighty, or too obscure, for this new and virulent strain of oratory.

Here’s what top bloggers think of the Forbes article.

If Jesus Were a Blogger

While He was on earth Christ revealed Himself as the Perfect Communicator. He spoke from within, that is to say, from out of the press of His people. He preached the Divine message without fear or compromise. He adjusted to His people’s way of talking and to their patterns of thought. And He spoke out of the predicament of their time. (The Pastoral Instruction Communio et Progressio, no. 11)

Jesus Christ, the Perfect Communicator, used every available means to communicate the Good News. He was so creative and ingenious in communicating with the people of his time, that if he were around today, Jesus would have a blog. But what and how would he blog?

If Jesus were a blogger he would talk about the daily experiences and concerns of people. He would use stories from everyday life like the uninvited wedding guests or a determined woman looking for her lost coin. He would talk about a Samaritan who helped an injured person and in the process teach people what it means to be a compassionate neighbor. He would most likely describe the kingdom of heaven “like treasure hidden in blogosphere” or “like an eBay bidder looking for fine pearls”. Or he would surprise and startle his readers by making a most unexpected person a “hero”, like the unrighteous steward in Lk. 16:1-13. Maybe he would also write down the story of an unjust judge to explain to his online visitor’s their need to pray always and never to lose heart. In short, Jesus’ blog would be aimed at helping people understand who God is and what his reign is like.

If Jesus were a blogger he would ask questions and address the issues of social justice and poverty. He would challenge the prevailing social and political structures of our time and speak against religious bigotry, racial prejudice, and economic selfishness. Forgiveness, compassion, peace, and putting others first would be some of the common themes of his blogposts. He would side with the poor and the marginalized and call them blessed. He would call for an end to war and all forms of violence. And he would insist good over evil, grace over vengeance, love over hatred.

If Jesus were a blogger he would have a shoutbox on his sidebar so he could chat in real time with online friends like Nicodemus, Mary, Peter, Martha, John, and the woman at the well. Aside from the twelve disciples, his blogroll would contain links to tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers, sinners and other outcasts. To protect himself from spammers like those irreverent Pharisees and Sadducees, he’d install an anti-spam plug-in. I am sure Jesus would use open-source content management systems and he would release his blog articles under the Creative Commons License. He may well have a “make poverty history” whiteband on his website. He’d also probably enable a plug-in that allows guests to make donations to victims of natural disasters. This is in line with his challenge for everyone to make a positive difference in this world.

If Jesus were a blogger he would post from his mobile phone or through a wifi-enabled Linux laptop. This is important because, being always on-the-go, he would need to blog from every place where there is a wireless hotspot – in the synagogues and marketplaces, on the mountain and at the sea, or while by his lonesome in the desert.

If Jesus were a blogger he wouldn’t be simply transmitting information or entertaining people through well-crafted stories. While his web-based publication would be true to life, written for the purpose of teaching spiritual and moral truth, he wouldn’t stop there. He would go far beyond just blogging. As a good shepherd, he would be where his flocks are – healing the sick, conversing with outcasts, preaching to the masses, praying with his disciples, teaching by example – all for the glory of the Father.

After all, man does not live by blog alone.

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Fr. Stephen Cuyos, is a Cebuano Missionary of the Sacred Heart presently based in Rome, Italy. He manages two websites, two blogs and two podcasts, namely, MSC Philippines, MSC Capitulum Generale, The Pinoy Migrants’ Voices, Cuying Blog, Europinoy Perspective and Cuying Podcast. You can contact him at stephencuyos@gmail.com.

Why Church Leaders Should Blog

What do Archbishop Oscar Cruz, Bishop Leonardo Medroso, and Monsignor Jose Manguiran have in common? They are all diocesan bishops, you say. Well, that’s quite obvious, isn’t it. But did you know that the three of them are also bloggers?

Yes, you’ve read it right. These bishops blog too. And their respective weblogs are Viewpoints, Tidbits, and The Meaning.

The blogosphere is a new place and opportunity for leaders of faith communities to dialogue with the online world. Aside from being inexpensive to develop and maintain, blogs are inherently global in reach and two-way in approach. And to think that there are more than 14 million of them all over the world. In order to be effective in their task of teaching, sanctifying and shepherding the people of God, church leaders (bishops, pastors, parish priests and other religious leaders) should blog and maintain an active, listening presence in the blogosphere. Why? Let me give you three reasons:

1. To reach and enrich
Blogging is perhaps the cheapest publishing tool, be it online or offline. Most blogwares, blogspaces and bandwidths are free. Visit Blogger, Friendster, Yahoo 360, MSN Spaces, Blogsome, MyBlogSite and you’ll know what I mean. At the minimum, all you need to pay is rent for a computer unit and a cup of cappuccino in an internet cafe. Compare that with, say, a printed parish newsletter, and you’ll realize how much time and money you’ll save (just imagine the number of trips you need to make to the publishing house and the amount of coffee you need to drink to cope with the stress). But the real power of blogging lies in its ability to reach people on a global scale in real time. Precisely because of this, blogging has created an enormous possibility in which online people worldwide can be reached and enriched.

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