Matt Swaim's new book "Prayer in the Digital Age" is a well-formed, clearly executed resource on how to maneuver through technology with our souls intact
Matt Swaim is one of my favorite
For me this is an easily quantifiable
statement. It is important that when I pick up a book I learn something new, am given a new insight
or dimension on something that I already know or in some way am edified. Swaim delivers on all
With his newest
book, Prayer in the Digital Age, Swaim easily proves himself to be the voice for our age—wherein
“age” refers to the technological world in which we find ourselves trying to discover
how we connect with one another while we stay connected to God. Armed with wit and wisdom, Swaim
shows that he has his hand on the pulse of where Catholics are at, where we might be going if we
aren’t careful and where we ought to be going with mindfulness and a keen awareness of how to
get the most from technology without unwittingly selling out.
So much more than a cautionary tale
wherein one might throw the baby out with the bath water, Prayer in the Digital Age is the well-formed, clearly executed resource on
how to maneuver through technology with our souls intact. Swaim is honest and straightforward in
everything he covers. He’s clever and incredibly insightful. I was particularly taken by such
concepts as the personas that are being manufactured and portrayed and the harm that such a
fabrication does to the person and the person’s relationship with God and with others. I
applaud Matt for such honest truths as when he says: Our illusory friendships are with avatars
and actors rather than with those who should be closest to us, namely family, friends and
If you want a great book
to read that is relevant and worthwhile, you want Prayer in the Digital Age. Quite frankly, the foreword by Jennifer Fulwiler
is worth the purchase price alone! I laughed out loud (LOL!) when I read it and knew I was in for an
excellent treat in the coming pages.
writing, Matt is the Executive Producer of Brian Patrick’s Sonrise Morning Show which
is produced by Sacred Heart radio and carried by EWTN. Interestingly, the Sonrise Morning Show has
as a regular contributor Dr. Kevin Vost who is another of my favorite authors.
Matt generously gave me a few minutes
of his time, in between all his demands, to answer some questions—you’ll love the
anecdote about laundering his Smartphone!
Cheryl: You are
clearly very knowledgeable about Christian history, Scripture and the technology you speak of in
Prayer in the Digital Age; can you give the reader a brief background about yourself?
Matt: Sure! I was raised in a strong Christian family, and have always had a deep love for
Christ. Growing up, I remember mowing lawns to buy my first 8-bit Nintendo, and have been pretty
well plugged in ever since. As I began to get into underground music through my teenage years,
cynicism about the media began to develop, and my relationship with technology took on more of a
love-hate character. Over the course of my collegiate studies (which included philosophy, media, and
scripture), my understanding of the relationship between faith and media became more nuanced.
Imagine my surprise, as I began to explore the Catholic Church and discovered that this conversation
had been going on even prior to the Second Vatican
Cheryl: This book is
timely and filled with profound and necessary insights. I was so affected by what you wrote in this
book! Can you tell me a bit about the process of this book—from the idea being put upon your
heart to the completion?
Matt: A couple of Christmases ago, I
was gearing up for a silent retreat and in preparation for the retreat, I accidentally ruined my
Smartphone by putting it through the laundry. The irony that I’d feel the need for 3G access
on a silent retreat finally struck me. While in the monastery, I read a ton of actual books and
wrote about a third of Prayer in the Digital Age. I was amazed at how relevant the insights
of saints like Augustine, Therese of Lisieux and John of the Cross were to the challenges posed by
the digital age. I guess you could say that the book is almost like a diary, with me taking an
assessment of my own tendencies when it comes to my use of technology and putting it all down on
paper. As any writer knows, there are an awful lot of things that become part of a book that were
never even in the original concept, and that was certainly the case with this one. Any insight of
value was likely stolen from a Doctor of the Church and repurposed for the edification of the
Cheryl: There are so many books
“out there” that, while warm and fuzzy, really don’t shed light on some of the
issues that Catholics face today—or will be facing in the near future—and how to deal
with them. There are also many books that seem to rehash what has already been “done.”
Prayer in the Digital Age truly stands alone in what it shared with the reader. Is it possible to
give us an idea of what you hoped the reader would take away from this
Matt: The easy thing to do when it
comes to looking at the media through the lens of our Catholic faith is to just assume it’s
all bad and inherently harmful. Both Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have reminded us that
we’re called to be significantly more critical than that in our approach. If anything, what I
hope the reader takes away is a sense of empowerment- an assuagement of the feelings of being
overwhelmed by what is seen as a hostile digital environment. The book was an attempt to tap into
the sentiments that many of us have about what’s good and bad about the media, and articulate
it for those who haven’t been able to quite put their finger on what’s wrong and what
should be done about it.
Cheryl: This is your second book and I wonder what we
can expect from you in the future.
Matt: The most exciting project on the
horizon for me is a collaboration (to which I’ve only contributed minimally) with Dr. Kevin
Vost (St. Albert the Great), Peggy Bowes (The Rosary Workout) and others, called Tending the Temple. It’s a
devotional that follows the calendar of saints and uses their lives to explore themes of spiritual
and physical fitness. I had a blast writing the few entries I added to the volume, and I think
readers will appreciate the wit and wisdom of the other contributors.