I've been a bit of a lurker for the past few months. Things are always a bit insane during Lent for priests, and this year was no different.
Got a bunch of things to share, and figure I'll work backwords.
After all four of my Easter masses where finished, celebrated with a cigar and some scotch, then a nice steak dinner. Even shared a little of the steak with the cat (not pictured, the moment was too fleeting).
Found out that Tumblr is moving in the walled garden direction. Not sure when it started, but this popped up when I shared a post with a friend not on Tumblr. Not sure what I'm going to do about this, I really don't like it, initial thought is finding another place to publish stuff I find on Tumblr. I don't want to do that here, but I also hate the idea of starting up another social media thing somewhere.
Over a year ago I got rid of my subscription to Spotify, and started rebuilding my MP3 collection. Been using Bandcamp or ripping cds I can buy directly from the mucisian if possible, though I've had to get used cds or go through Amazon for a few things I couldn't find elsewhere.
Because of this I've switched to listen to music as an album, and that's been a paradigm shift. I used to build playlists around what I wanted to hear, now I'm directed by the artist to hear what they want to express.
My latest album purchase was Parts 1 by Xsodect, and I highly recommend checking it out. Chill yet exhilerating electronic music. Which I heard about in...
...the March newsletter from Hundred Rabbits, an artist collective of two that sails around the Pacific ocean on a sailboat, making art, coding video games, and doing a bunch of other cool stuff. Someone on SSB mentioned them, and I fell down the rabbit hole (pun very much intended) of exploring all their stuff. Check out their website here, they're making some really cool things!
I've got a bunch of half-written blog posts and projects and experiments that I want to get around to finishing soon. Looks like there will be a little free time to dedicate to fun stuff in the near future, but we'll see if that holds true!
Peace and Joy!
A 20ish page paper I wrote in grad school, follow this link to the paper.
A broad historical and theological overview of the development of the Catholic university. This paper is framed as giving the aspects a Catholic university aims for. The writings on the subject by St John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, John Henry Cardinal Newman, Christopher Dawson, Helene Wieruszowski, Denis Lawton, and Peter Gordon are explored. Prominent themes include the relationship of faith and reason, the necessary universality of education, and the service the university provides to society.
Here's a walkthrough on how to get started on Manyverse, a peer-to-peer, offline first social media.
1. Download the app, you cannot have the same acount on multiple devices, so if you want it on your phone and computer, go ahead and download it on both, but be ready to setup seperate accounts (people usually name one account 'joe smith phone', and the other 'joe smith computer')
I highly recommend starting with your computer account, the computer app is more dependable.
2. Setup your account. Everything will be empty, don't worry, that's normal. Setup your profile, upload a profile pic, write a description of yourself.
3. Now, let's get you connected. go to https://ssbroom.techpriesthub.xyz/ in your browser on the same device, on the top right part of screen, right next to 'sign in,' you'll see 'create new invite.' Follow the prompts and connect.
4. On your connections tab, click through to see the room, and start following everyone you see online.
5. And now we wait...
6. Unfortunately, people need to follow you back for you to connect to the network (this is a pain point, and I haven't found a good way to get around it).
7. In the meantime, make an introduction post, and use the hashtage #new-people and #newhere to get noticed.
7. I'll try to follow back accounts that join the room at least once a day, so check back after a few days, it'll start downloading posts once we're connected, then start following some people, liking, commenting, all the usual stuff!
Advanced things to try:
A. Increase replication hops: go to settings, and increase replication hops to 3 or 4 in order to load more accounts to your device. This will require more memory (each account you can view is stored on your device, which means it's accessible offline, but it also means you can take up a lot of memory if you're not careful), so you can also click through to storage, and increase the storage limit to whatever is good for that device.
B. Find other open room servers to connect to here
c. Connect to pub servers: if you want to meet a lot of people really quickly, a pub server is the way to do that. I'll leave it up to you to do more research and decide if it's something you want to do. Search terms to get you moving in the right direction are: 'ssb' 'pub' 'server'. SSB is the protocol Manyverse is built on, stands for Secure Scuttlebutt. Pub servers have a few drawbacks, but if you want to find other people fast, it's the best way.
A couple weeks ago, I started an experiment:
Everything I need to survive in a bag (including a towel, of course).
My phone lives in the bag, not in my pocket. I take it out of the bag when I want to use it, and put it back when I'm done.
The bag also contains my tablet, a sketchbook, couple of books, and some other odds and ends (and of course, the towel).
End goal is to keep the phone on the same level as everything else: a tool, which I use for specific jobs, and then put back in its place when I'm done.
The idea was, I'd try it out for at least two weeks, even if I hated it, in order to get some better data than just trying it out for a few days.
However, after just two days, I decided it was no longer an experiment. I would never go back.
I used a backpack for the bag, and that extra step of having to dig around the backpack to find the phone (I drop it in, and it disappears, just like it should) provides insulation from the immediacy the phone used to represent in my life.
I had often surmised the availability that a cell phone offered was radical, i.e., not natural. It made me a slave to others. Everyone I typically interact with expects calls and text to be returned within the hour, because that's what they would do.
But just having the phone not in my pocket, evaporated any compulsion I had to answer right away. The anxiety of being "available," melted away.
And then there was the other aspect of having a tiny computer at my beck and call. That itch to look things up, scroll through media, revel in distraction.
But again, just that little bit of removal from immediate proximity, of having to dig the phone out of the backpack, helped immensely to curb that obsession.
It made the phone a tool. When I need it for something I fish it out and use it for that task, then it goes away. Same as the sketchbook, the tablet, and the various other things I keep in the bag.
So overall, a successful experiment. I doubt it'll be the same silver bullet for everyone, but I'm really thankful it helped me find some balance and peace in my digital life.
One final note though: to stop me from reflexively putting the phone in my pocket, especially at first, I figured I should have something else take its place. I decided on two things: my pocket watch, and my pocket knife. I had carried both these things during high school, but got my first cell phone shortly after graduation. I ended up ditching the watch, since the phone told time, as well as ditching the knife, since I didn't want to scratch up the phone.
Having these two tools back has been amazing. With the pocket watch back, I ditched the wristwatch, which always felt like it literally shackled me to a clock. And the pocket knife comes in handy way more than I expected.
In closing: we should have never taken the phone off the wall.
Building a framework (the Saint Maker) to form evangelists, meant to encompass all aspects of life, making use of any technologies now available, and those developed in the future. The tool for developing the Saint Maker will be a university. The university will consist of teaching companies where students work to cover tuition. The three-fold reason for this model is: to assist in the university's mission by being more inter-connected with daily life, providing various benefits to students, and to help reach financial self-sufficiency as quickly as possible.
Problem: how to evangelize the whole world?
Solution: form faith-filled, hard-working Catholics. They will evangelize the world.
Problem: how to form these Catholics?
Solution: through a framework of formation that catechizes praxatically and formally.
Problem: present frameworks (parish catechesis, Catholic schools [including home schools], Catholic universities, and even parishes in general), have a low success rate compared to their failures.
Solution: our present methods are too fragmented. A true solution encompasses all aspects of a person's life. As God meets people at all times in their lives, the solution must be present at all times and in all places as well. We need a way to connect everything: parish life (liturgy, prayer, charity), family life, catechesis, learning, social life, financial life, business life, family life.
Problem: there presently exists no way to extrinsically connect all these things outside of the individual them-self (who obviously connects all these things by being the point of conflux).
Solution: technology for a complete solution is not yet achieved, but using existent technological means, a framework could be made that begins to bridge all those areas of life.
That is our goal.
A way to connect prayer and work, family and friends, liturgy and learning. All within an explicitly and overwhelmingly Catholic context. To form disciples of all nations.
The overarching goal is to use any present and future technological means to create a framework for Catholic life that promotes sanctity.
The task is the same as it's always been, but new tools to aid in accomplishing that task are continually developed.
A full answer of what the Saint Maker will look like (this nexus that impregnates the whole life of a Catholic with Catholicity), is not yet clear.
To find clarity on how it needs to be designed, the first step is to develop a place for the incubation of this nexus, and that place is a university.
There is no need to reinvent the wheel, the Catholic Church knows how to run universities.
This one will have a goal: making a community that has both the capability and the resources to develop the Saint Maker.
Since we will be building a new university, there are aspects that must be considered to make it the ideal incubation chamber for our task. The typical divide from academia and everyday life, is not helpful in regards to the goal of this university. In bridging the two, we can build a university that is better equipped to design and build the Saint Maker, as well as provide benefits to students not found in a typical university setting.
A student begins by applying online. This first step is even a class, as the application is a tutorial in how to effectively fill out applications for employment. Part of that application is applying for your first job in the university.
If accepted, follow up tutorials are begun to prepare for a job interview, which will also be a teaching opportunity. Concurrently, tutorials are begun for placement in a dorm, which is carried out exactly the same as applying for an apartment.
With acceptance to the university, a final job offer, and a dorm “rented,” the student is ready to move in.
The first semester is practicum oriented: classes in everything you need to be a successful adult in this world (faith being most important, so classes in how to live a saintly life, but also money management, time management, how to study, how to learn, how to think effectively, how to keep a house, etc).
Towards the end of the first semester, begin transition into formal education. Making use of online and in-person classes (both developed by the university but, especially initially, also from other universities), and also other programs for blue collar work (apprenticeships and certificate programs).
During first semester, the student will apply for a mentor. This mentor will help them through the growing pains of the first semester (which will be substantial, especially in comparison with your typical university experience [due to essentially needing to act like an adult from day one]), and should also function as a very basic spiritual advisor.
There will be no separation between academia and the rest of the world, this will be exactly like the real world. There will be no breaks in the student's job, they’ll need to negotiate time off to visit their families.
The university will also function as it's own micro-economy. Students will be paying their way by working, but a profit-sharing system will help encourage diligent work, help them learn money management, and further stimulate the local economy.
Our hypothetical student will continue into their second year, able at any time to apply for a different job or a different dorm. University life is year-round, both to better integrate into real life, but also to avoid any difficulties in staffing university jobs.
As the student approaches the end of year two, it's their turn to become a mentor. Necessary training will happen during the year, and the student will learn how to sort through applications as they pick their mentee.
The student continues until they complete their formal education program, at which point, they should have all the necessary skills to move easily into the real world.
At this point it also seems another mentorship program can be available, with students studying Human Resources helping recent graduates find and secure a job.
The one thing that travels with most people throughout their day, is their phone. It is not a perfect end goal of what the Saint Maker is trying to accomplish, but it’s a start.
Growing along with the university, will be a mobile application, that will be the start of the Saint Maker. It will be a type of digital parish.
A place for prayer, community, challenge to conversion, and comfort in times of distress.
It can also serve dual purpose as an interface for students with the university. Again, a further inter-connection between different aspects of life.
The university, with a set goal of developing a formational nexus spanning the entirety of human life, must be designed to facilitate achieving that goal. And in the interest of treating funding as something intrinsic to this mission, the university must be self-sustaining almost from the beginning, and moving as quickly as possible to generate the resources to pursue it's goal.
With this in mind, and seeing the examples of colleges that are set up so that all students work to earn their tuition, it seems the best model to follow (graduate with a degree and a resume).
The university will essentially be made up of teaching “companies.” This should be beneficial for the students, as well as providing a way to begin from nothing, and grow organically, without a large initial funding drive.
Web Development Teaching Company: immediate goal of building the online tools needed for the fledgling university, also providing a place to work for the founding students. Goal is to be self-sufficient as soon as possible.
Food Truck/Restaurant Teaching Company: first step towards a physical location (since the Web Development Teaching Company can exist completely online), can be run by a small crew, and provide jobs for few students.
Begin Retreat Center: end goal is to have a fully functioning retreat center run by a Hospitality Teaching Company, but at this point construction will be begun on parts of the retreat center to provide housing for students as the physical location of the university is built up.
Hospitality Teaching Company: manages the embryonic Retreat Center/dorms, to be expanded as soon as the retreat center is fully operational. (potential for properties in the area to be purchased and run as AirBNB's to expand company and provide more revenue)
Restaurant: end goal of the Food Truck is to establish a full Restaurant, again to provide jobs for students, but also food for the students and faculty of the growing campus of the university.
Full Retreat Center: phase one will be complete when the Retreat Center is fully constructed, students have been moved to new housing, and it is run by the Hospitality Teaching Company.
Construction Teaching Company: to facilitate building the campus, as well as providing jobs for students, but ultimately to build the center of the university campus:
Build Church: to be the visual beating heart of the university. Not rushed, planned carefully, built to last, and absolutely beautiful for the glory of God and the spreading of the Gospel.
Build Library: not just a building, and not a typical library. It is to be a place fulfilling the usual tasks of a library, both online and in it's physical location. But it is also to be a laboratory which will work on the Saint Maker.
At this point, with the university off to a good start, it will be time to begin committed work on the Saint Maker. All the tools will be in place, but from this vantage point it is difficult to know how the work will proceed. Only God knows how long it will take to get to this point, and we will leave it up to Him to direct the work when the time comes.
Concurrently, the university should continue to grow, with new teaching companies and other additions to the campus.
Pray for the success of this undertaking!
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