“The internet and social media paint a skewed picture of the world today. It only highlights what is good. People seem to be living the perfect life, the good life. People seem to be hiding their brokenness.”
Dr. Michelle Banawan, an associate professor in the Computer Studies (CS) cluster and director of Management Information Services (MIS-UITO), led the discussion during the 3rd Ignatian Conversation titled “Finding God in the Digital Era” at Finster Auditorium last November 21.
“We are all broken, and the world is not a perfect world. There is healing if we accept our brokenness, when we accept our brokenness it means we do not do this just out of coping or just because we are resilient, but because we value our brokenness.
“We see its value as a defining and transformative opportunity. Do not be afraid to break. Be fearless,” Banawan stressed.
A single mother of four children, she invited everyone to go out of his or her “not-afraid-to-be-broken zone.”
Banawan shared what she calls her “almost encounters” with God during moments of consolation or victories, but she felt His love more during moments of desolation.
“Why ‘almost’? Because I feel that this ‘God experience’ that we have are just a foretaste of that final encounter, that when we encounter God, when we experience Him, let us not be complacent; let us still pursue Him. Let us still be in touch with a restless hearts and continue the pursuit,” she explained.
She went on to share her “virtual encounters” with God and said the digital world could also lead us to Him. She cited inspirational videos, livestream of holy masses, and mobile apps as examples that could help in exercising one’s faith.
“My virtual encounters with God led me to actual almost encounters,” she mused. “With our broken selves we walk with God in the online world even during moments of desolation, we just need to be able to recognize Him and not be overtaken by distractions.”
Banawan said everyone have shared fears and brokenness and are undergoing the same struggles in life.
“Because you are broken, because we have shared brokenness, because we have shared struggles, your brokenness can heal others, just like Christ’s brokenness gave us salvation,” she said.
Banawan reminded everyone that their almost and virtual encounters have an effect on the revelations of others in their journey.
Questions came from pre-recorded videos, tweets, and the live audience. Some members of the Jesuit community also answered some of the queries.
Benjune Alatraca, a first year AB Communications student, raised the final question: “How can we use technology to rekindle the faith of those who don’t believe in God?” later clarifying how to influence atheists.
Dr. Banawan answered faith and non-faith is a personal choice. She hopes her faith and her love of God and His love manifesting in her life will inspire others to find and make their faith firmer in whatever they believe in.
“If they have non-belief, I hope my belief will not make their non-belief [firmer]. I just hope that they’d be able to see the good things happening in me, the brokenness in me that transforms into wholeness (and) hopefully holiness of a person. And it is entirely up to the movements of the Spirit in him if he gets inspired and what time he’ll get the inspiration,” she said.
A partnership between Ignatian Spirituality and Formation Office (ISFO) and CS Cluster, the 3rd Ignatian Conversation is a part of the activities of the Information Technology (I.T.) Week.