The road to conversion

Following last week’s article, we see Spadaro proceeding to compare the saving of a file with the salvation of a soul. He notes that our understanding of saving a file prohibits us from starting afresh, which a theological understanding outlines.[1] A metanoia is not particularly possible in the digital world, since whatever is shared, remains. This digital world which he describes, which I’d like to call our ‘un-forgetting culture,’ keeps reminding us that my sin stays always before me (Ps 52), which leaves a heavy burden on the Catholic catechesis of the Sacrament of Confession. It is a concept which requires an unlearning process, and giving a new sense of understanding; a new need which back in the hardcopy days, was not necessarily.

His attention then turns to the action of converting, which he sums up as a “translation of sorts.”[2] The need to decipher the data in a file pushes the user to convert to a format which allows him to “enter into a relationship with (this) data.” This relational exercise is transposed to the relationship of the sinner with God. While I can understand where he is coming from, this exercise might be lost to the modern average desktop user, who rarely faces issues with opening unknown file formats. Most data formats are XML based, and thus, keep abreast the easiness to share data between applications. While XML has spearheaded the advancement towards eliminating the need to convert data at every stage of development, it still “does not come close” to fully eliminating the need.[3] However, Seligman and Rosenthal note that this new technology has ignited an enthusiasm which vouches the agreement of standards, prompting researchers and vendors to make significant strides.[4] Back to Spadaro’s theory. Spadaro speaks of the restoration of one’s relationship with the other as reading from a file. Likewise is the sinner-God relationship, where through Confession, the broken relationship is re-established.

Given the above reflections, can we still continue to see the digital world as a mere tool? Is it not directly impacting our anthropological and thus, theological understandings?

[1] Antonio Spadaro, Cybertheology: Thinking Christianity in the Era of the Internet, 2014, doi:10.5422/fordham/9780823256990.001.0001.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Len Seligman and Arnon Rosenthal, ‘The Impact of XML on Databases and Data Sharing’, n.d.

[4] Ibid.

Matthew is a Masters graduate in Informatics and is currently reading a Bachelor’s Degree in Sacred Theology. He has a strong interest in merging the tech field, particularly Artificial Intelligence and Social Media, with theology. He is also in his sixth year of formation at the Archbishop’s Seminary.

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