[As build up to the 150th Jubilee International Congress at Baclaran, I will post here every day some relevant thoughts and reflections about the Icon and the Baclaran phenomenon.]
The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth
–it is the truth which conceals that there is none.
The simulacrum is true.
In today’s age of digital revolution, which can be described similarly, to what Charles Dickens has said about the French Revolution, “the best of times, the worst of times,” we are propelled into massive transformations—with consequences both good and bad—upon the way we think and act, our values and attitudes. This essay aims to examine critically the place, challenges and significance of the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in the new media age.
Media in the Shrine
The National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help at Baclaran has always utilized the media for its broadcasting and evangelization services. In 1950, barely two years after the launching of the novena, the first broadcast of the novena on radio was conducted. The Baclaran chronicles narrates this event,
Early in January a Chinese manufacturer arranged for a weekly Broadcast of the 7.00 p.m. Novena over Station DZPI for the benefit of the sick and those who cannot come to the Church. Far from lessening the crowds, the broadcast has served to increase their numbers. Letters coming in from all over the Philippines show that the Novena broadcast is being followed throughout the Islands.
The Redemptorist community of Baclaran utilized media not just in the shrine but also in the missions. In the 1950s, the missionaries were going around the barrios with their “sound car”, slides and other visual aids. In those times, when the radio was the most advanced technology in the provinces, these media technologies were already groundbreaking tools in spreading the Gospel. The missionaries, however, eventually faced a stiff competition from the media in getting the attention of the people in the mission. Fr. John Maguire ascertains this, “By 1968 it was becoming clear that Missions in the City were losing their attractive appeal and people, now used to watching television, were not so keen to get up and go to church each evening. Missioners were also changing, and transistors were the in thing.”
In 2003, for the first time video monitors were installed in the shrine. The aim of the monitors was to aid the active participation of the assembly especially in the songs and responses during the masses and novenas. The monitors were also used for evangelization and catechesis especially on the liturgy and sacraments in between masses and novenas. Furthermore, the monitors were utilized for disseminating and drumming up support for the many programs and services of the Shrine and the Philippine Church. It was also envisioned that the monitors will be useful in seminars and talks in the Shrine, for example, Bible, Social Teachings of the Church, etc.
Initial reactions of the people to the monitors were varied from a bit of cynicism to enthusiastic approval. In general, however, most of the reactions were positive as many affirmed the effectiveness of the monitors in their participation and growing appreciation of the liturgy and teachings of the church.
In 2005, the shrine made its first foray into the digital world by launching its website. The shrine’s first online presence was warmly received by netizens. Based on an analytics of the site, visitors to the site came from different parts of the globe, as can be shown from the graph below. We can just surmise that many of these visitors from other countries are devotees working abroad – Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW’s). If this is the case, this can only show two things, first that the OFW’s are a valuable propagators of the devotion and second, this shows that, indeed, OFW’s are present in almost every country of the world.
In 2012, I made a total redesign of the website integrating interactivity into the site like the ability to post comments on webpages, submitting letters of petition and thanksgiving and yes, making a donation. The new design also incorporated social media like facebook and youtube into the site.
As I have mentioned, the website became particularly popular among the overseas Filipino workers (OFW). It became a popular source of information and communication for the OFW’s. A comment posted by Zenaida Obciana in September 24, 2014 on the website, expresses this sentiment: “Thank you very much for having this site, even I’m far away in a country with no [C]atholic church, thru your site I feel that I am home. Many thanks and more power to you all. God bless us. I love you Mama Mary.”
The live-streaming of the novena and masses in the site instantly became a popular hit among the OFW’s. This is expressed in a comment posted by Nila Doroteo Simpson on March 5, 2014: “I am so thankful that even [I] am away from the Philippines I [am] still able to say Novena every Wednesday thru livestreaming. Wayback 2003 to 2004 [I] am always in Baclaran church every Wednesday … Thank you MAMA MARY for always [being] there for us.”
The live-streaming afforded the OFW’s the experience of being almost like they are being transported to Baclaran shrine in real time. This evokes deep feelings and precious memories. Robert Sumang articulates this on the facebook page of the shrine:
Everytime [I] watched the live novena mass every Wednesday here abroad, I felt like [I] am embracing once again Our Mother of Perpetual Help. There are so many graces that I received in my whole life, but I also had my share of loneliness and difficulties here in my going abroad. Because of my profound trust and faith to Our Mother of Perpetual Help, she often protects me including my family and even my enemies. There is no place in my heart for vengeance, I pray instead for those who do me wrong. Thank you very much for your continuous effort to upload the live novena and masses through Facebook especially for us OFW’s.
In 2016, the website — http://www.baclaranchurch.org — won the Best Parish Website in the whole country during the 2016 Catholic Social Media Awards. The Catholic Social Media Awards recognized the shrine’s website for creatively utilizing cyberspace and new media as a tool for online evangelization.
Other media tools that the shrine used for evangelization were: LED Electronic video board which replaced traditional bulletin board in the Shrine, compound and Convent Lobby, the publication of e-newsletter and the video gospel reflection posted on YouTube every Wednesday.
The most recent foray of the shrine into the new media is the Social Media. The shrine started a Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram account. Through the website and the social media platforms, the devotees were able to inquire, get information about the newest activities of the shrine, pray online, post comment, write letters of thanksgiving and petition, make suggestions, donate to the shrine and interact with shrine team and fellow devotees. These new media platforms allowed for creative interactivity and greater participation of the devotees in the shrine. As of April 21, 2017, the shrine’s facebook page — https://www.facebook.com/omphbaclaran — has garnered 20,940 fans and counting. On April 02, 2017, the page garnered 106,676 total reach. Total reach refers to the number of people who were served any activity from shrine’s facebook page including shrine’s posts, posts to shrine’s page by other people, page like ads, mentions and checkins. In short, total reach refers to the number of fb accounts where the shrine’s page landed on their timeline. Indeed, these numbers reflects the vast potential of social media for evangelization and information dissemination.
On the other hand, there were downsides to these new technologies. Over social media, for example, we have been attacked for hypocrisy and called all sorts of names—bastard priests, demons from hell, members of the yellow cult, rapists and pedophiles, coddlers of drug lords, thieving hypocrites playing the games of politicians, etc. The vitriolic comments comes whenever we make prophetic stand for justice and peace and in defense of the poor, as in the case of the rampant extra-judicial killings because of the anti-drug campaign of the government. This shows that the new media technologies can be utilized in both constructive and destructive ways.
There are also positive comments, however, defending the stance of the shrine, for example, on the issue of extra-judicial killings. Cedrick C. Sagun, for example, expressed his support to the prophetic stance made by the Redemptorist community:
Stay faithful to the Gospel and to the teachings of the Church. Kings and rulers come and go, but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Let no one distract you or prevent you from proclaiming the Truth, even if it leads to persecution and martyrdom. People will say a lot of things, but the only voice you need to hear is the voice of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Mother of Perpetual Help will always be there for you. MAY GOD BLESS THE REDEMPTORISTS!
Disconnection in a World of Interconnection
New media technologies have transformed the world into one global interconnected village. The advanced new media technologies enabled utmost information sharing, accessibility, and the democratization of broadcasting. Unfortunately, in this age of interconnection, some new media tools have generated unforeseen destructive consequences. They have become instruments of disconnection from the true, good, and beautiful. Some popular (notorious) examples of these new media platforms, in this regard, are meme, troll and selfie. The culture of destructive meme, trolls and selfie manifests an aberration of the interconnectedness that new media has purportedly brought about.
A meme is “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” Applied in the internet, an Internet meme is an activity, concept, catchphrase or piece of media, which spreads often as mimicry from person to person via the Internet. Internet meme may take the form of an image (typically an image macro), hyperlink, video, website, or hashtag. It may be just a word or phrase, including an intentional misspelling. Internet meme is the most common form of information that we often share on social media especially Facebook and twitter.
Meme is a great catalyst of creativity and knowledge; unfortunately, it has also intensified so-called post-truth. Post-truth is the word of the year for 2016 declared by Oxford dictionary. Oxford Dictionary chose post-truth because of the heightening of the phenomenon in 2016 in the context of the EU referendum in the United Kingdom and the presidential election in the United States. This same phenomenon also happened during the Philippine election of Rudy Duterte in 2016. Post-truth relates to or denotes “circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Oxford cites, for example, that ‘in this era of post-truth politics, it’s easy to cherry-pick data and come to whatever conclusion you desire’ and ‘some commentators have observed that we are living in a post-truth age’
Post-truth memes has become the source of fake news and so-called alternative facts. Pew research center has found that roughly 62% of U.S. adults get news on social media. Worst, 68% of people don’t trust the news they see or read. Think about that: most people don’t trust REAL news. I think approximately the same percentage applies to the Philippines.
A related term is what we call agnotology. Agnotology (formerly agnatology) is the study of culturally induced ignorance or doubt, particularly the publication of inaccurate or misleading scientific data. A cultural example is the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, where the author George Orwell cast a world in which the state changes historic records daily to fit its propaganda goals of the day.
The availability of large amounts of knowledge in this information age, therefore, may not necessarily be producing a knowledgeable citizenry. Instead, it may be allowing many people to cherry-pick information in blogs or news that reinforces their existing beliefs. In the new media age, everybody becomes an expert. This promotes what Ray Williams refers to as an anti-Intellectualism and “Dumbing Down” culture. He describes this culture as,
The new elite are the angry social media posters, those who can shout loudest and more often, a clique of bullies and malcontents baying together like dogs cornering a fox. Too often it’s a combined elite of the anti-intellectuals and the conspiracy followers – not those who can voice the most cogent, most coherent response. Together they foment a rabid culture of anti-rationalism where every fact is suspect; every shadow holds a secret conspiracy. Rational thought is the enemy. Critical thinking is the devil’s tool. 
Google and Facebook are partly to blame for this. They have unwittingly allowed their platforms to be transmitters of fake news and post-truth memes. After several howls of protests, they have taken some measures.
The worst thing to happen, however, is the anesthization and apathy, even the aestheticization of human misery and suffering that have developed because of the post-truth brainwashing. We have experienced these ourselves just recently when the shrine took a stand against the immoral and unchristian extra-judicial killings because of the anti-drug campaign. Many people have criticized us showing no sympathy at all to the victims of the killings.
The rise of internet trolls is another negative consequence. Who among you here have gone into a fight with trolls? How many have unfollowed people or unfriended friends? In Internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory,extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal, on-topic discussion, often for the troll’s amusement. Trolls are important vehicles of fake news and alternative facts. Trolls take advantage of the anonymity principle in the internet, for example, when making comments, they use unidentifiable pseudonyms, which are frequently separated and anonymous from the actual author. Freedom of expression is fundamental; however, this can be misinterpreted and lead to less accountability, deception, distortion and withholding the truth about one’s identity. Trolls, therefore, generates a disconnect in identity and raises question between authenticity and anonymity.
Another popular practice that the digital technologies have generated is the selfie. A selfie is a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a digital camera or camera phone held in the hand or supported by a selfie stick. Selfies are often shared on social networking services such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Selfie was the word of the year in 2013 by the Oxford English Dictionary. The ubiquity of digital cameras, mobile phones with cameras and the social media has intensified the selfie fad. I must admit I have taken selfie myself. The selfie culture helps to strengthen the postmodern shift to the individual—the self is the basic unit of society, no longer the family or tribe. Some have suggested the relationship between selfie-posting behaviors and narcissism. Though there is yet no direct evidence that links selfie and narcissism, it provides, however, for narcissists a platform to seek social status and attention. On the other hand, selfie perhaps, is about a profound desire for beauty—that I am beautiful. Selfie as falling in love with the self, however, goes against building connection for which internet was invented in the first place.
Meme, troll, selfie have generated disconnections in an interconnected world. They are symptomatic, however, of a greater malaise—the alienation from the foundational reality of our being human and society and fixation with replica or representations of reality. Indeed, we live in a hypervisual environment, which amplifies the replica or representations of reality. We are continually bombarded with images, videos, billboards, and ads; we have become a society “where image is everything.” Susan Sontag believes, however, that capitalist societies require images in order to infiltrate the culture of everyday life, legitimize official power, and anaesthetize their subjects through visual spectacles.
Along this line, two concepts worthy of mentioning are the notion of the society of the spectacles by Guy Debord and simulacrum by Jean Baudrillard. Both Debord and Baudrillard wrote before the onset of the digital revolution (Debord in the late 60’s and Baudrillard in the 70’s to 90’s). Their musings, however, is still very much relevant especially in today’s hypermediated world. Both Debord and Baudrillard confronts contemporary society’s penchant for the superficial and consequently creating an illusory world. We are not living on reality but on simulation (imitation or replica) of reality. Media and hyperconsumption or commodity fetishism of neo-liberal capitalism have partnered to create a “simulacraic” and spectacular society. There is a blurring of the lines between the real and the representation. Sometimes we are even convinced that virtual reality is better than the real thing.
Debord traces the development of a modern society in which authentic social life has been replaced with its representation: “In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. All that once was directly lived has become mere representation.” Debord argues that the history of social life can be understood as “the decline of being into having, and having into merely appearing.” This condition, according to Debord, is the “historical moment at which the commodity completes its colonization of social life.”
In his analysis of the spectacular society, Debord notes that quality of life is impoverished, with such lack of authenticity, human perceptions are affected, and there is a degradation of knowledge, with the hindering of critical thought. If Debord were alive today, he would have had a field day calling the virtual communities and superficial connections created by social networks like Facebook and Twitter as characteristically “spectacular”.
Baudrillard built on the theories of Debord with his notion of simulacrum. A simulacrum (plural: simulacra from Latin: simulacrum, which means “likeness, similarity”) is a representation or imitation of a person or thing. Baudrillard, in his theory of simulacrum, attacks contemporary society, which defines reality through terms of media claims. Baudrillard warns us about the danger of this “hyperreality” where social reality and its ‘simulation’ in media can no longer be distinguished: “It is no longer a question of imitation, nor of reduplication, nor even of parody. It is rather a question of substituting signs of the real for the real.” This blurring of the line between the real and the artificial has reinforced the seduction of surfaceness. Our world is a world of simulations; experience is a sum total of simulated events. For Baudrillard, the simulacrum becomes the real; reality becomes hyper-reality. What appears on media becomes the real in actual space.
Baudrillard contends that the hyperreal has become more real than real. Hyperreality is what we get from media, advertising and hyperconsumerism. On a daily basis, most of us deal with the superficial and the hyperreal. The superficial has replaced the genuine in the most basic human experiences in the family, neighbourhood, and community relations. Even the experience of the spiritual and the religious has been coopted by the hyperreal, e.g., internet memes such as spiritual images and videos on facebook—which blurs the genuine spiritual experience. In other words, hyperreality is the aesthetization of the shallow, the superficial, and the popular.
Technologization of everyday life has further augmented the disappearance of the real. A byproduct of technologization is the relegation of traditional institution as transmitter of values. Children, for example, have more interaction with iPad, game console, computers and laptops than with parents, siblings and other children.
An offshoot of this entire phenomenon is the question of presence: What is the meaning of presence today? Am I really present? Presence today is having able to navigate both physical and cyberworld. There is a loss of real and physical presence. In a supposedly interconnected world, there is a hunger for real connection because people have been less genuinely present to one another. Virtual presence of cyberspace has sabotaged physical presence. This further shows the irony of the hyperconnected world: many are connected online, in actual reality, however, are disconnected with their own family, friends, community, and church. Thus, a significant question is: Is technology bringing us together or keeping us apart?
The Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in the New Media Age
In the aberrations of the new media age, what is the place, challenges and potentials of the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help? What can the icon offer to this technologically driven, hypervisual and simulacratic world?
I would like to suggest that what we can learn from the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in today’s new media age could be summed up in the complementary and interdependent dynamic of Contemplatio-Missio. Contemplatio is the contemplative outlook highlighted by the meaning and spirituality of the icon and missio is the missionary orientation enlightened by the life and example of Mary. Contemplatio-Missio is the life that Mary has shown us. As Sr. Thomas Mary, O.P. said, Mary “personifies and expresses the deepest nature and meaning of the Church—a Church which is both contemplative and missionary. Mary is the model contemplative and the first missionary.”
Contemplatio: Looking through the Icon
For the past eighty-five years, the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help placed on the high altar of the shrine, has witnessed the millions of devotees who have visited and prayed at the shrine. In the midst of the sweeping changes in the world, including the digital revolution, the icon has become a source of hope and transformation for the devotees.
As we contemplate on the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, we are invited to look at the world where everything is a sign of God’s presence. Indeed, we live in a visual world; we are all images. The icon spirituality promotes an attitude and presents a challenge to be true and to connect with the most fundamental reality and truth about ourselves—that we are made in the image and likeness of God through the Word, Jesus Christ. In short, we are icons of God; we partake in God’s being and mission. As God is profoundly a community, our most fundamental truth also is that we are all interconnected.
There are similarities and dissimilarities between new media and icon. The icon is also an image. The icon, however, is not just a representation but also a sacramental participation in the sacred. In the icon, there is no dichotomy between the real and representation. This understanding of the icon is similar to Baudrillard’s articulation of the first stage of the notion of simulacra. The first stage, which is associated with the premodern period, is a faithful image/copy, where we believe, and it may even be correct, that a sign is a “reflection of a profound reality,” this is a good appearance, in what Baudrillard called “the sacramental order”.
Amidst the noise and superficiality of online transactions, the icon invites us to contemplate our true identity and meaning of life and the world. The icon provides a strong and genuine anchor in new media’s fleeting and copious diversions. In contrast to the hypervisual reality that new media has unfortunately helped to create, in the icon, it is not the image, the replica, the spectacles, the simulacra, that is principal but the original. In the icon, we are all participants in the original interconnectedness of God. Thus, the icon spirituality is a calling to participate in the real. The icon spirituality is a calling to authenticity in the most profound sense. In front of an icon, we are called not to be passive—mere observer, viewer, outsider, art appreciator. We are called to be active—to participate in the mystery of the Kingdom of God, which the icon represents. We are not outside of the icon; we become part of the icon.
Contemplating the icon especially on the character of Mary can help us to overcome the selfish perspective. Our Mother of Perpetual Help is the perfect contrast and counter image to a selfie culture. The reverse perspective of the Icon implies that we the viewer is not the master, center or virtual owner of the world but a participant in God’s creation.
In a hypervisual and hyperreal world, the icon offers a sacramental worldview. Pope Francis articulates this worldview in his first encyclical, Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith), “The awakening of the faith passes through the awakening of a new sacramental sense of human life and of Christian existence, showing how the visible and the material open themselves towards the mystery of the eternal.” The Icon can help us to see truth, goodness and beauty in our world. It inaugurates a different kind of aesthetics, a sort of counter-aesthetics to the superficial beauty celebrated in the hypermediated world. Thus, the icon can serve as a critique to the escapist, addictive, and distractive patterns in cyberspace. It inspires a return to the real and original source of truth, goodness and beauty—the divine Trinity.
The icon awakens us to the deepest bonds and connection that exist between each one of us. We are all interconnected; this interconnectedness reflects the fundamental reality of us and all creations’ partaking of the interconnectedness of God. This is the deepest desire within us for the true, good and beautiful.
Through the sacramental worldview, which the icon fosters, we can conceive of the internet as a spiritual or sacramental space where we can search for meaning and experience God. Cyberspace can serve as a sacred space, which not only enlightens the mind, but nurture the soul as well. We are not promoting a utopian outlook on technology; the new media, however, are not necessarily opposed to religion and God. Without being naïve, there are elements of cyberspace that intersects with faith, spirituality and God.
Missio: Following Jesus with Mary
Navigating the new media age is following the path of discipleship of Jesus. In this path, Mary is the first disciple and missionary. She walks with us. Mary showed us how to collaborate and cooperate with God in mission. Mary entered into God’s mission not God entered into Mary’s life. This is the meaning of Mary’s fiat: “Let it be done according to your Word.” Mary’s yes represents humanity’s yes par excellence. This is the reason why Mary is the first missionary. Mary is an icon of God’s Mission.
In the new media milieu, where we long for authenticity, goodness and beauty, Mary is a refreshing example and model. Mary offered us a fresh approach to life—a life genuinely free and fully alive for God and for others! Mary is the most genuine person, as Karl Rahner said, [t]he holiest, most authentic, and happiest human being, to say something of her who is blessed among women. As such, she represents most profoundly who we truly are and what we will truly become, Rahner explains, “[S]he is the noblest of human beings in the community of the redeemed, representative of all who are perfect, and the type or figure that manifests completely the meaning of the Church, and grace, and redemption, and God’s salvation.” This does not, however, make Mary different and distant from us; she is one of us, she is with us. “[S]he belongs entirely with us. She must receive God’s mercy just as we must, for she lives and typifies to perfection what we ourselves are to be in Christ’s sight.”
Mary showed us that being disciple and missionary, first of all, is to be Teotokos—bearer of God in our world. As Mary showed us, missio is entering in God’s mission—Missio Dei—and carrying that mission in the world. It is not our mission but God’s mission. How can we become Teotokos (God’s bearer) of Missio Dei (God’s mission) in this hypermediated world?
It is essential to understand the nature of new media as areopagus (public square) and agora (marketplace). New media is an important field for the proclamation of the Gospel. Despite its many defects, God is at work in the new media in many ways that the church needs to discover. Thus, the challenge for the church is how to recognize and nurture the seeds of the Gospel already growing in the Internet and how to weed out the destructive ones. The prophetic pronouncements of Mary in her Magnificat can be a model of proclamation in the internet—God will utilize the new media to overturn the world’s order that has disconnected from God, but will raise up in the end and gather in God’s new social order, those who humbly entered God’s mission—the poor, the hungry, the most abandoned.
We are still in the early stage of the digital age. The new media is only three decades old. As I write now, new information technologies are being developed that will have far more radical consequences than what we are experiencing right now. At this stage, we are still fascinated by the technology. We are not yet mature in using the internet and have not maximized the internet for the real purpose it was invented.
However, it is not just a matter of learning the craft, acquiring the skills and applying the technique of new media but in becoming more aware how new media has changed the world and us. Every new media and communication technology in history has brought great impact upon human culture, consciousness, the way we think and act, our values and attitudes. Following Marshall McLuhan’s dictum “the medium is the message,” media has engendered not just techne (skill, craft and tool) but also more significantly an ethos (way of life).
As we continue to navigate the new media age, the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help and the life of Mary are essential anchor and guide. Through an attitude of contemplatio-missio, enlightened by the icon and the example of Mary—the first disciple and missionary—Our Mother of Perpetual Help, we can seek the true, good and beautiful in the new media.
 Jean Baudrillard, Selected Writings, ed. Mark Poster (Cambridge, UK: Polity, 1988), 166.
 Paraphrased from the opening lines of Charles Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities set during the time of the French Revolution, 1789—1799.
 Baclaran Chronicles, April 7, 1950.
 John Maguire, CSsR., To Give Missions to the Filipino People Wherever They Are Needed (Paranaque: Redemptorist Media Center, 2006), 10.
 Cedrick C. Sagun, facebook, January 31, 2017 accessed at https://www.facebook.com/omphbaclaran/inbox/?selected_item_id=646908125511183
 Meme, Merriam-Webster Dictionary
 Internet Meme, Wikipedia, accessed at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_meme#cite_ref-2.
 Post-truth, English Oxford Living Dictionaries, accessed at https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/post-truth.
 Post-truth, Oxford Living Dictionaries.
 Jim VandeHei and Sara Fischer, “How Tech ate the Media and our Minds,” AXIOs, Feb 10, 2017. Accessed at https://www.axios.com/searching-for-information-nirvana-2248588151.html.
 Knobloch-Westerwick (2009). “Study: Americans choose Media Messages that Agree with their Views”. Communication Research, Sage, 36: 426–448. Accessed at http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/poliview.htm
 Ray Williams, Anti-Intellectualism and the “Dumbing Down” of America, Waking Times, May 19, 2015 http://www.wakingtimes.com/2015/05/19/anti-intellectualism-and-the-dumbing-down-of-america/
 Daisuke Wakabayashi and Mike Isaac, “In Race Against Fake News, Google and Facebook Stroll to the Starting Line,” The New York Times, Jan. 25, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/25/technology/google-facebook-fake-news.html?_r=0.
 The American Association for the Advancement of Science’s conference on “Anonymous Communication Policies for the Internet” upholds that “online anonymous communication is morally neutral” and that “it should be considered a strong human and constitutional right.” Anonymity principle makes people more vocal on the internet than in real life. See Teich, A., Frankel, M.S., Kling, R., and Ya-ching, L. Anonymous communication policies for the Internet: Results and recommendations of the AAAS conference. The Information Society 15, 2 (1999).
 Susan Sontag in Henry A. Giroux, “Instants of Truth”: The “Kill Team” Photos and the Depravity of Aesthetics, Afterimage, Vol. 39, No. 1-2, July-October 2011.
 Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle, trans. by Donald Nicholson-Smith (New York: Zone Books, rev. ed. 1994), Thesis 1.
 Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle, trans. Fredy Perlman and Jon Supak (Black & Red, 1970; rev. ed. 1977), thesis 17.
 Debord, (1994) thesis 42.
 Debord, (1977) from thesis 25: “All community and all critical sense are dissolved”
 Simulacrum, Google, accessed at https://www.google.com.au/?gfe_rd=cr&ei=1GLUWPXoJe_DXrb4rYAE#q=simulacrum+definition&*
 Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation, trans. Sheila Faria Glaser (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994), 2.
 Sr. Thomas Mary, O.P., Marian Theology up to Vatican II, 9. Accessed at http://www.christendom-awake.org/pages/mcbride/marian-upto2vat.htm.
 Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation, 6.
 Pope Francis, Lumen Fidei, #40.
 Karl Rahner, Mary – Mother of the Lord (Herder and Herder, 1963), 24.
 Rahner, Mary – Mother of the Lord, 37.
 Rahner, Mary – Mother of the Lord, 39.
 Teotokos which literally means “God-bearer” is the first dogma of the church on Mary decreed in the Council of Ephesus in 431.
 The Areopagus refers the council of elders of the city of Athens, similar to the Roman Senate. Areopagus became prominent in missiology due to remarkable address of St. Pau’s at the Areopagus (Acts 17:24). St. John Paul II identified the “new worlds and new social phenomena” and “cultural sectors — the modern equivalents of the Areopagus”, towards which “the Church’s missionary activity ought to be directed” today. First of these “new worlds” is the new culture emerging in the mass media. Redemptoris Missio, #37.
 Greek Agora literally means “gathering place” or “assembly.” Benedict XVI referred to the digital world as agora when he said in his 2013 World Communication Day address: “I wish to consider the development of digital social networks which are helping to create a new “agora”, an open public square in which people share ideas, information and opinions, and in which new relationships and forms of community can come into being.” Benedict XVI, “Social Networks: portals of truth and faith; new spaces for evangelization,” 47th World Communications Day, Vatican, 12 May 2013.
 Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore, The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects (Penguin, 1967).