An interview with author and blogger Brandon Vogt about StrangeNotions.com
Brandon Vogt apparently does not sleep very much. He is an author, blogger, and speaker, as well as an engineer, husband, and father. His first book was titled The Church and New Media: Blogging Converts, Online Activists, and Bishops Who Tweet (Our Sunday Visitor, 2011), and included a Foreword by Cardinal Sean O'Malley and an Afterword by Cardinal Timothy Dolan.
Brandon’s most recent project is the site, StrangeNotions.com, which is “designed to be the central place of dialogue online between Catholics and atheists. Its implicit goal is to bring non-Catholics to faith--especially followers of the so-called New Atheism. As a 'digital Areopagus', the site will include intelligent articles, compelling video, and rich discussion through its comment boxes.” It is, Brandon says, “the first English apostolate dedicated solely to reaching atheists and agnostics.” He recently answered some questions put to him by Catholic World Report.
CWR: There are countless Catholic websites, many of them
dedicated to apologetics and evangelization. What is unique about
Brandon Vogt: Well, first the aim. Few other sites exclusively engage atheists. Most focus on Protestant apologetics, which is certainly needed, but the issues there are quite different than those relevant to non-believers. For example, at Strange Notions we don't really focus on Marian dogmas, purgatory, or the liturgy. We're concerned with more basic questions about God's existence, cosmology, morality, miracles, science, and the reliability of the Gospels. We must solidify these foundational issues before the second-level issues become important.
Second, the tone. We're all familiar with the typical online religious discussion. If not, just visit any secular newspaper site and scroll down to the comments. They're full of snark, shallowness, and slander. But Strange Notions is not like that. We've done several things to ensure the dialogue remains serious and charitable, and in the site's first weeks it seems to have worked. Our tight comment policy and several moderators have kept the discussions fair and on point.
Third, the contributors really differentiate this site from others. I've gathered the best-of-the-best Catholic intellects to contribute content including Dr. Peter Kreeft, Dr. Edward Feser, Fr. Robert Barron, Fr. Robert Spitzer, Dr. Benjamin Wiker, Dr. Christopher Kaczor, Dr. Janet Smith, Dr. Kevin Vost, Christopher West, Jimmy Akin, Jennifer Fulwiler, Marc Barnes, Leah Libresco, Stacy Trascanos, Mark Shea, Tim Staples, Carl Olson, and many more. Right now we have over thirty contributors and we're continuing to add more. The hope is that this website becomes the definitive Catholic response to atheism--the best of our rich theological and philosophical tradition.
Finally, we have some exciting plans in the works to set the site apart, including interactive YouTube debates and video interviews with popular atheists and Catholics. So stay tuned!
CWR: Why the specific focus on atheism?