In the 21st century, how does God compete with the internet? With smartphones, virtual reality, and our collective attention spans at an all time low, how can the almighty father dust off his stodgy white robes and appear—dare we say—cool to kids? For many religious leaders, this brave new world is considered to be the last frontier for Catholicism in Italy: keep up with the times or be left behind. Following the message of the Pope Francesco I, a new Catholic movement is spreading. “The God’s Party,” a religious youth movement focused around dance music, rock worship, technicolor parades, and holy mass celebrations on the beach. In Sicily, the community of Mani al Cielo is the most famous table-turning, hymn-slinging congregation around. Father Robert Wrona, a representative of the French religious order, is often a special guest of their party. An ex-DJ, Wrona remixes the pulsing beats of contemporary dance with the feel-good spirituality of Christianity. From a visual perspective, it’s strange to see religious advocates emulating the very activities that they have decried for so long. When viewing the Catholic Pride Parade—with it’s technicolor necklaces and DJ floats—it’s hard not to see the influence of, say, the Gay Pride Parades which stand in direct ideological opposition. Utilizing these activities is not supposed to come across as hypocritical or cultural appropriation, but rather as an inclusive, modern instrument to bring young people closer to faith. In other words, it’s God’s Party and everybody is invited. But in this case, BYOB might mean bring your own bible.
Written by Chris Ames, ViewFind