“Specialized, Ecclesial Ideography: the “New Evangelization” in the Catholic Church” appeared this month in the Michigan Academician. Authored by one of our contributors, Mike McCallion, and Benjamin Bennett-Carpenter, the paper considers the “new evangelization” movement called for by recent Catholic papal authorities in light of recent sociological and rhetorical theory. A topic that has continued to spark lively discussion and debate on our blog, the “new evangelization” refers to efforts to revive religious belief among baptized Christians and non-Christians alike, particularly in Europe and North America, who have become alienated from religious faith.
Principally, Bennett-Carpenter and McCallion’s paper argue that the “new evangelization” operates as a kind of specialized, ecclesial “ideograph” specific to internal Catholic relations. But its analysis invites continued and extensive application for analyzing other ideographs in culture, they suggest. After providing some context for the ideograph as a concept, which Michael McGee defines as a summarizing term that galvanizes people in their discourse about certain courses of action, even when they have diverse or conflicting agendas, the authors consider international, national and diocesan sources of the “new evangelization.” Therein, they convincingly point to the term’s plasticity and ability to unify diverse clerical and lay leaders in the Catholic church, which they present as a “heterogeneous organization that responds in both progressive and conservative manners to various socio-political contexts.” In this way, the authors convince one that their ideographic analysis bears implications beyond Catholic, intra-ecclesial relations, and that “further work on ideographs could elaborate on differences within [specialized] contexts, perhaps drawing on ethnographic studies not only of ecclesial or other cultural contexts but also within professional and scientific contexts.” Continue reading