Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fr. Robert Barron: The "Barry Sanders" of Catholic Social Media

Some of the biggest buzz in Catholic circles is Fr. Robert Barron's new series, Catholicism. Portions of it will be debuting on PBS in Chicago on October 13th and it sounds like there will be other cities in the mix.  Detroit will be among the cities offering it, starting on October 30th at 6 pm.  See if it will be available in your area here

From a must-read interview with the National Catholic Register on this:

In March 2010, you questioned PBS’ decision to not air religious programming and used examples to demonstrate that they exclude one type of evangelization but allow another type. Now it turns out that PBS has agreed to air your series on more than 80 public-television stations this fall. How did that come about?

We approached WTTW over a year ago in Chicago with the documentary. I was aware that I had done this piece on YouTube, and I stand by it. I wasn’t expecting much from PBS, but they called us down, and we met with their people. To my infinite delight and surprise, they said they thought it was well done, that it was visually compelling, that it would be interesting to non-Catholics and any religious seekers, and that they loved it. We went to lunch afterwards and wondered, How did that happen?

They watched all 10 episodes and chose four — the first episode on Jesus, the episode on the mystery of God, the episode on Mary, and the one on Peter and Paul and the missionary outreach of the Church. It will begin airing during prime time in Chicago on Oct. 13 and will air in successive three Thursday evenings. PBS Chicago marketed around the country, and they’ll be airing it on just over 80 stations.

The other episodes we sent to EWTN, and they’ll be playing them starting in the beginning of November. We’re thrilled.

This looks quite exciting.  Here is a webpage dedicated to the series with a lot more info. I never understood why educational channels do not permit people of certain faiths to tell their own story. 

There is much more to read about this, and of course, I recommend Father Barron's website, Word on Fire, and social media he engages in, which you can pick up from there.   He has his own YouTube channel for Word on Fire which I also recommend visiting.   Follow Fr. Robert Barron on Twitter, as well.

The "Barry Sanders" of Catholic Social Media
I find myself gravitating more and more to Fr. Barron's material.  You can try drive change by negative means (i.e., angry complaints, too much emphasis on what is not being done or focusig on things going wrong, etc.);  or, you can try to win hearts through postiive means (i.e., appealing to people's sense of reason with intellectual discourse devoid of anger, acknowledging what is wrong without over-emphasizing it, and offering hope).  In my humble opinion, Fr. Robert Barron has mastered the latter.  Some may be perplexed as to why he may choose certain topics in his Word on Fire videos.  This is a man who is not just going after fallen away Catholics and non-Catholic christians.  He's engaging atheists, agnostics and other non-Christians, and he is taking the high-road, completely unphased by some of the nastiness that can be out there. 

Fr. Barron is to Catholic social media what former Detroit Lions running back, Barry Sanders was to football.  Sanders, with his small stature against the many giant men he played against was unphased by the odds against him.  He weaved in and out, dodging the multitudes, throwing them into confusion as to where he was going next.   Sanders could make a good run, take a beating and come out of the pile trotting to the next play, repeating it over again until he punched through to the end zone.  Then he would get up and just hand the ball over to the referee like it was no big deal. He never trash-talked that I recall and was very restrained in how he talked about others.  This is how I see Fr. Barron taking on this culture of secularism, relativism, subjectivism, etc.  It is with this lack of emotionalism and hyperbole that Barron teaches.  his positive approach is working and what he teaches goes deep, not just on the surface.  When some of them see he's interested in dialogue, they let go of the edge and get down to talking.   You can see where things like philosophy, history, anthropology, literature and other subjects all come in to play.  It is wise for seminarians, consecrated persons, and lay people to study up if they want to win souls.  Fr. Barron shows how well such seemingly benign things are needed to understand others.  This is what is needed to have intelligent discourse.

You can buy the entire series on DVD.  Father also has a book by the same name, and a study guide.  Find a few other interesting items by him in below.


Barry Sanders fans can take a moment to smell the roses...

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!
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