A fantastic website has just been launched that was started by Brandon Vogt, author of The Church and New Media: Blogging Converts, Online Activists, and Bishops Who Tweet. Brandon has assembled some of the best critical thinkers in Catholicism who are theologians, professors, and scientist to contribute to a new “Digital Areopagus” [Areopagus= Latin, from Greek Areios pagos, from Areios pagos (literally, hill of Ares), a hill in Athens where the tribunal met and debated issues of ethics, faith, and reason] Brandon intends to follow the Holy Spirit and the New Evangelization in helping to engage Catholics and non-Catholics in a digital public square for civil and reasoned debate. This beautifully made website is meant to be interactive and help to engage all people and cultures in a meaningful dialog that will hopefully bear fruit in bringing people closer together and help in growing closer to God. This will be a wonderful resource for many for years to come.
A sampling of some of the contributors to Strange Notions:
- Fr. Robert Barron – Word On Fire Ministry, Catholicism Series
- Dr. Peter Kreeft – professor/author of philosophy at Boston College
- Fr. Robert Spitzer – scientist & theologian, Magis Center for Reason & Faith
- Jimmy Akin – Catholic Answers senior apologist
I was honored that Brandon was able to answer a few of my questions by e-mail:
1) How were you able to assemble so many prominent authors, theologians, and educators in one place.
Well thanks to be to God, I’ve become friends with many of them over the past years, and when the gears started chugging on Strange Notions I knew the site demanded content from the best-of-the-best. So I started asking around, and almost invariably, every person I asked to participate gave an enthusiastic, “Yes!”
2) The rules of engagement with the audience for this website are very clear, concise, and civil. What or who were your guides in making these great rules for the Areopagus.
I take my cue from Pope Benedict XVI, who mastered this mode of communication. His writings were remarkably clear, sharp, and charitable. The title of his last encyclical says it all: Caritas in Veritate, charity in truth. That’s what we’re shooting.
In terms of online models, I’ve always appreciated the guys at CalledToCommunion.com. The site is fascinating. In the quick-hit, 140-character world of social media they’ve somehow created a succesfful arena where people read and respond to thousand-word blog posts–complete with footnotes! Even more, the comboxes are filled with mutual respect and a sincere pursuit of truth. If I could pick one site for Strange Notions to emulate that would be it.
3) Great looking website. What platform was used, designer, other details in making the website.
The platform is WordPress, and the designer was John Flynn of Kickstart Media. He built my personal website, BrandonVogt.com, and I can’t recommend him highly enough. He’s extremely talented at creating beautiful, functional sites.
4) The promo video is well-made, what software used to make video. Did you make it yourself, or use a media company?
Cory Heimann at Likable Art was responsible for the outstanding video trailer. Cory’s one of the most gifted young filmmakers in or out of the Church as the Strange Notions video trailer affirms.
5) Since this website will fall under attack, what resources are used to avoid hackers and ways to deal with people who are problematic (blocking technology?)
Well, we’re primarily depending on St. Michael, St. Thomas, and Ven. Fulton Sheen (laughs). But seriously, right now we’re not as prepared as I’d like to be. Like almost any website, if someone really wanted to take down Strange Notions they could. We’ve got backups of the site and we do have some security measures in place but I honestly haven’t put that much thought into it.
6) How is this ministry supported with finances and manpower? Is this being planned as having a long-term presence, or just for the Year of Faith?
So far we’ve been operating on a shoestring budget. I’ve paid for everything using money I get for speaking, and John and Cory worked within my budget to stretch the dollars far. Though it does align with the Year of Faith, StrangeNotions.com is definitely a long-term project. I hope it helps Catholics and atheists find the Truth for decades to come.
Tip–you should follow Brandon on his social media if you want some of the best informative and entertaining news in Catholicism.
Brandon is a wonderful speaker for Catholic New Media, and we are honored he is a member of Catholic Web Services–please check out links below for more information:
BrandonVogt.com (blog and speaking engagements)
Church and New Media (great list of Catholic links that Brandon Vogt assembled)