CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Mobile media a second reformation in the offing?

Hong Kong (SE): “With the explosive impact of the mobile media in the lives of the people during the last decade, Christianity in general is facing a second reformation,” Yam Chi-keung a professor of Religious Studies at Chung Chi College, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said while addressing the Religious Broadcasting and Television Advisory Committee of RTHK 4 on May 3.

“Any thought or attempt to resist a possible reformation can only be futile. Practicing believers and media practitioners can only try our best to understand the changes and stay afloat and keep swimming in the tsunami,” Yam said. 

Speaking on the topic, Religion, media and the social schism in Hong Kong, Yam elaborated on various moments and turning points in the recent history of Hong Kong such as Occupy Central with Love and Peace, the mood of civil disobedience and the Umbrella Movement. 

He observed that the Church was right in the forefront of all those social movements. 

If the first Reformation was the culmination of a media revolution which began with the invention of the printing press and printing of the bible by Johannes Gutenburg, a new reformation is in sight with the explosion of mobile media. 

With the rise of new media, society, and the Church in particular, face a new crisis: a shift in people’s world view and their perspectives. There has been a sudden decentralisation of power and authority. 

Yam expressed the opinion that this tsunami is imminent and that the Church needs to be aware of the changes that are in the offing. 

Father Joe Houston, a Columban missionary in Hong Kong, in responding to the observations said that Churches must be vigilant to prevent a possible further fragmentation of Christianity as happened with the first reformation and that the unifying efforts of the Church must continue. 

Martin Lachmann, a representative of the Amity Foundation in Hong Kong, has expressed excitement at the prospect of a second reformation and tsunami bringing about unification in the Church with the help of mobile media. 

Yam was also quick to acknowledge the dangers involved in mobile media. 

He said, “It has created in us a sense of pseudo-connectedness where people have the illusion that they are well connected with the rest of the world, but in reality have lost their attentiveness to people and surroundings.” 

Mobile media is here to stay, he said but cautious and responsible use should be the watchword for practicing believers.    

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