When I first saw the new book, Tweeting with God by Father Michel Remery, it intrigued me because:
- the title is awesome
- the book has a free app
- I’m always looking for easy-to-understand books that connect the Catholic Faith with people’s questions today
- I liked the personal questions the book is not afraid to ask…and answer
So when I was asked to be part of the Tweeting with God Blog Tour from the perspective of discernment, I just couldn’t say no! Here’s the book trailer so you can see a glimpse of the book for yourself:
A Solid Overview of Our Catholic Faith
A solid overview of the faith written in 140-character chunks sounds just perfect for young people today, right? And this book definitely has 200 great tweets about our faith, but it has a lot more than that. Each question has a two-page spread which includes a tweetable answer, and a more thorough one. The tweet is used as the quick “summing up” of the explanation at the end.
I really appreciated the approach of Tweeting with God. While covering the main areas of faith (traditionally Creed, Sacraments, and Morality), many answers start from a personal perspective: What does this [area of faith] have to do with me? The questions are sometimes posed to cover a particular area of faith, or address a contemporary issue, but they are also often personal and common questions that I’ve had people ask me, for example: “Why is the Mass boring?” or, “How does one become a saint?”
The personal “what does faith have to do with my daily life” approach is what I appreciate most about this book. It makes Tweeting with God an excellent introduction to the Catholic life of faith when read cover to cover, but also a great reference for the tough questions often posed to Catholics—from the history of the Crusades to the motivations for a celibate priesthood.
To keep the language understandable, large concepts are explained simply. In most cases, this works really well, but occasionally I felt that the answer was oversimplified and really suffered from the lack of precision. Still, overall this is a great introduction to the faith that addresses many controversial or counter-cultural issues that Catholics face.
(For a fun tweet-able review of the book, check out Alison Gingras’ review at Reconciled to You.)
What Does Tweeting with God Have To Do with Discernment? (or Why Am I Blogging About This Book Here?)
The personal approach that Father Remery takes connects the mysteries of God, Christ, and the Church with how to live a vibrant spiritual life. Instead of an “add-on” section in the back on prayer, the Christian’s relationship with God is front and center throughout the presentation of the Catholic Faith. What we believe is shown to directly connect with our personal relationship with God. The opening pages don’t speak about God just from the traditional language of the Book of Genesis and the creed, but they emphasize that God’s plan for creation includes his plan for each of us. A surprisingly thorough and wonderfully accessible treatment of prayer begins early on in Part 3.
With the spotlight of the book focused on our personal relationship with God, it’s only natural that Father Remery frequently refers to seeking God’s will and discovering God’s plan for our life. The principles of discernment are raised simply and persuasively. A few of my favorite spots in the book about discernment are:
Tweet 1.7 Why should I believe in God (sets up God’s longing for us and our longing for God that are so important on a vocational discernment journey)
Tweet 3.4 Can prayer help me to make the right decisions? (simple explanation of superficial desires and deep desires)
Tweet 4.3 What does God ask of me? (the description of vocation is simple and fantastic)
Tweet 4.6 How can I know the will of God? (check out the red box—great advice for listening to God’s will)
Tweet 4.8 What is the relationship between faith and actions? (Offers a defense of monastic life of prayer)
Appendix 4: Praying with the Bible according to St. Ignatius of Loyola
Appendix 5: Reflecting on your day through prayer (or the Examen Prayer)
Although I am really impressed with Tweeting with God overall, there are a couple of things that I wish were done differently:
1) To keep the book short and focused on young people’s questions, some things were left out that might have been helpful to include. For example, the only references to discernment (or seeking God’s will) have to do with vocational discernment. I couldn’t find a reference to living in a spirit of discernment. In a book geared to young people—which this book undoubtedly is—vocational discernment is certainly an appropriate emphasis, but it is also important to realize that God doesn’t just call us once in our lifetime.
2) The initial vocational division that the book offers is “to be married in the Lord” or “to remain single in the Lord.” The text seems to suggest that this is the basic question to begin discerning your vocation with. While this may be helpful for some people, I don’t necessarily think that this is a good starting point for everyone. This might be a case of oversimplifying.
3) Every 2-page spread has a picture which you’re supposed to be able to scan with your smartphone using the Tweeting with God app, so that it will bring up new content. I tried scanning the pictures with two different phones, and it didn’t do anything. However, the app still has a few cool features of its own. In addition to additional information for all the tweets in the book, it also has a section on the Mass and Catholic Prayers in 10 languages (very helpful for international travelers, or if you’re visiting a parish that celebrates Mass in another language!)
Tweeting with God is an splendid introduction to the faith for young adults that compellingly and beautifully integrates learning about the truths of our Catholic Faith and living a dynamic relationship with God as a Catholic.