You need to know about the launching of a new website, Strange Notions, spearheaded by Brandon Vogt who knows a thing or two about "new" media and the new evangelization. (Check out his book here: The Church and New Media: Blogging Converts, Online Activists, and Bishops Who Tweet)
After St. Paul preaches in the Areopagus in Athens to the intellectual elite, they respond saying "May we learn what this new teaching is that you speak of? You bring some strange notions to our ears, we should like to know what these things mean." (Acts 17:19-20)
With a website trailer like that, the adrenaline is already flowing just at the idea of a site that sets out to bring intellectual conversations between atheists and Catholics to an internet in dire need of it.
StrangeNotions.com is designed to be the central place of dialogue online between Catholics and atheists.
Its implicit goal is to bring non-Catholics to faith--especially followers of the so-called New Atheism. As a 'digital Areopagus', the site will include intelligent articles, compelling video, and rich discussion through its comment boxes.
The site is laid out in blog post format, with by-topic articles from a team of contributors presumably written with an atheist audience in mind.
The list of main contributors for the site is world class, with some of the best of the best as far as Catholic writers and thinkers go. In my humble opinion, this is one of the best lineups I've ever seen for a Catholic website of this nature.
I also like the extensive recommended books list that doesn't pull punches and is intellectually demanding.
I'm very interested to be watching this site unfold and participating in the conversations.
I do wonder, however, what will draw intelligent atheists to this site and the conversations and not just your normal trolls that lurk on Catholic websites. It would be great to see this website reach out to atheist bloggers and speakers to engage them in open dialogue in a way that goes beyond just the comment box. To have a thinking atheist write a response or article defending his position would add to the website's claim to be an open forum of reason and dialogue. Maybe even a HuffPoLive-esque Google Hangout would work well.
This is a site to watch and get involved with, learn a thing or two, and even send to your skeptical atheist friends challenging them to engage in dialogue with the authors and thinkers. Pray for this "digital areopagus", because it is a much needed space in the mission territory of the internet.
The Brains Behind It All:
Brandon Vogt is an award-winning author, blogger, in speaker. In 2011 he released his first book titled The Church and New Media: Blogging Converts, Online Activists, and Bishops Who Tweet (Our Sunday Visitor). The book includes a Foreword by Cardinal Sean O'Malley, an Afterword by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, and was endorsed by a several other cardinals, bishops, and leading Catholic thinkers.
Since then he’s established himself as an expert on Catholic new media and in May 2011, Vatican officials invited him to Rome to discuss social media. At the meeting, Archbishop Claudio Celli explained that the Church's mission today is to "open a conversation with the world." That's precisely what StrangeNotions.com is designed to do.