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June 20, 2024 — The internet, wherever we access it, is so much of our lives now. Being online isn’t some alternate reality different from our real lives. The internet is real life. But what is that doing to our brains and our souls? How are the mini computers in our pockets affecting our lives, whether we’re using them for listening to great Jesuit podcasts or mindlessly scrolling through Instagram? What is our technology doing to our ability to, say, pay attention to the person in front of us? Or to read something long and dense? Or to be be bored? Or to pray?

Host Mike Jordan Laskey has been growing more curious about these questions over the past few years, and it has led him to learn more about a discipline within the study of communications called “media ecology.” Media ecology is all about the environment that our ways of sending and receiving information create. The printing press affected all elements of culture in countless way; same thing for the radio and photograph and television and computer and smartphone. And one of the leading scholars working in media ecology today, especially at the subject area’s intersection with religion, is a Jesuit priest named Fr. Paul Soukup, and he’s today’s guest.

Fr. Soukup is a professor of communication at Santa Clara University in California, where he teaches and writes on these topics. Some of his book titles are helpful introductions to his areas of interest: “Communication and Theology”; “Christian Communication”; “Media, Culture and Catholicism”; and “Out of Eden: 7 Ways God Restores Blocked Communication.”

Mike asked Fr. Soukup to orient us to the world of media ecology and how he sees our media environment today affecting our individual and communal lives. They also discussed the media ecology of theology and how information technology development through the ages has affected the ways the church does its thinking and praying.

AMDG is a production of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States.

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