Wednesday, February 16, 2022
How Catholics Will Stand Up to Big Tech

Guest Post by Kailash, Co-Founder of Fidei

Innovation and Salvation 

The next phase of software products will dramatically enhance the presence of the Catholic Church in our culture. I work in the technology sector and try my best to build innovative technology products. I used to discount the value of this type of work in the light of eternity. What does our work matter if our products are not with us in Heaven? Yes, God wants us to enjoy our work, "find enjoyment in [your] toil — this is the gift of God" (Ecclesiastes 5:19), but we know there is no work in Heaven, "We must work the works of Him who sent me, while it is day; night comes, when no one can work" (John 9:4). How can work and innovation have an important impact if it does not last forever? Recently, I have revisited this question and find myself moving towards the opposite position. Innovation is a critical part of leading souls to salvation and the new frontier of software technology has the power to allow Catholics to create self-sufficiency unlike any time in history and provide a platform for us to reclaim our fallen culture.

Personal Example

I arrived at this position by thinking about my own family history and journey to the Catholic faith. Those of us here in the West, and the United States, in particular, lose track of how social and economic stagnation affects a soul's journey to God. My family is from a region in South India called Tamilnadu. They lived in that region for at least five centuries, likely for many centuries before. There is a city Chennai in this state that holds the martyrdom site of St Thomas the Apostle. A few hundred miles to the south of Chennai in Palayur, Kerala is a church thought to be founded by St Thomas in the year 52AD. Christianity has existed throughout South India from the very start and my family had been exposed to Christianity in some manner for several centuries. Yet none found the true Catholic faith until me. 

My conversion depended on many innovations in order to receive the word of God at the time I was ready. For example, I do not think I could have found the Catholic faith unless I was born in the United States. The innovation of air travel allowed my parents to come to the United States in a palatable manner compared to sea voyages before. I also needed some way to encounter the Catholic faith and learn what its principles and founding implied for my life. The innovation of the internet allowed me to educate myself on the Catholic faith using resources from all over the world and all throughout time precisely when I was ready to know God. The skeptic may reply that I could still have found God without air travel or the internet. While this may be true insofar as God can do anything, the static, pre-industrial society my family lived in for many centuries never worked to draw my ancestors to the Truth. Innovation yielded my salvation.

Innovation Today 

What does the innovation of today mean for the future of the Catholic faith? Much of the innovation produced so far on the internet has centered around content distribution (Google, YouTube, Facebook, etc.). As I mentioned before, it has never been easier for a person to read the writings of the Church Fathers or to research the history of Church doctrine on any given issue. It has never been easier for someone to hear from authority on the Catholic Church than it is now. While St. Augustine had to travel to distant lands to finally encounter St Ambrose and eventually convert, we can encounter Blessed Fulton Sheen on-demand in the comfort and privacy of our home. While St. Monica had to worry about her son's salvation from afar in darkness, parents today can help their children stay close to the Truth over the phone in conversation when needed. These are not trivial matters; innovations have a real and measurable impact on the faith of Catholics today.

The next wave of innovation will go much further than the content channels for evangelization and education that helped lead to my conversion. These changes will allow Catholics to reclaim our culture through self-sufficiency in the digital economy. The Catechism says that "everyone has the right of economic initiative [and] everyone should make legitimate use of his talents to contribute to the abundance that will benefit all and to harvest the just fruits of his labor" (CCC 2429). For most Catholics in the United States, pursuing economic initiative means using internet-enabled software products. Until recently, this, unfortunately, meant we had to use software products provided by companies whose values were not only anathema to our own but who actively worked to undermine Christian culture. Today, however, this need no longer be the case. There have been developments in technology such as the decreasing cost of cloud computing and the maturation of open-source software that enable Catholics to break our reliance on Big Tech and finally be in business for ourselves in the digital world. 

We are entering a world where our right to economic initiative will include choosing explicitly Catholic companies to provide our basic internet services to communicate and transact online. Just like how generations ago we might choose to patronize a local Catholic baker, today in the Internet age we can choose to utilize a Catholic software provider. This will give consumers the power to use technology products without having to weigh moral compromises and disagreements with the company providing the product they use. No longer will Catholics inconvenience themselves and hide their true beliefs as an artifact of the culture Big Tech has created online and the knowledge these corporations have over our personal preferences and whereabouts. This new world of technology will end our legitimate fears of losing our job or making enemies with large corporations who hold all our personal data.

Instead, self-sufficiency among Catholics will create a platform for us to boldly evangelize in our fallen society. We will move from simply being “tolerated” to “in command” of expressing ourselves. Economic self-sufficiency points to the Benedict Option where Christian people "build intentional communities of counter-cultural witness." The point of self-sufficiency extends beyond providing means for Catholic people to exist in an insular society. Self-sufficiency will allow us to take risks and extend deeper into the darkness of our world that has forgotten about God.

This new phase of innovation will allow us to be leaven to the bread of the world and confidently fight for God for the salvation of all of mankind. Self-sufficiency in the digital world will provide a new foundation to take risks for God because it allows us to live intentionally together as counter-cultural Christians no matter how far away we are from each other. New software will furnish the ability for Catholics to live, communicate, bank, and transact online without moral compromise, without exposure to the great evils found on the Internet today, and without wondering what enemies they will make along the way. These changes will provide the platform for Catholics to boldly evangelize in our fallen culture. Find out how we are starting this trend starting with email at Fidei.

1 comment(s):

del_button February 21, 2022 at 7:50 AM
Iacobus M said...

Thanks for this post, Kailash (and Matthew). I've been trying to navigate the online world without the Googles, Facebooks, etc. over the past year. It's still not easy, but it can be done, and as more specifically Catholic resources become available, we'll be able to spead the word more effectively in the future. Thanks again!

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