Saturday, August 20, 2011


Over on the right side of the blog is a link to 150 Google+ invitations. As I write this, four people have used the link.

One thing to consider, Google+ has a policy that you must use your real name. Unless or until they change or modify that policy, you need to consider that. Yes, you can still probably register under a fake name, but once they discover the fake name, you have four days to fix it, or get banned.

Update: I was banned under this policy.

So what is Google+ and why do I use it?

Google+ is a young, growing, social network. Yes, kind of like Facebook.  Yes, most of the world (they claim 750 million members) are on Facebook, but I'm not.  Here's the link to a previous post called Why I Left Facebook Today.

What do you do on a social network? You act socially, either with small groups of friends or followers, or with the public at large.  Some people use it for a status update - what they are doing at any particular moment in time, like "I'm drinking coffee and reading the morning news online." 

Some people use it for a way of expressing a particular thought or feeling they might be having, like "I'm glad the library has extended it's hours on nights and weekends, and these are the recent books I've read from the library . . . "

Some use it to express longer thoughts and views on a subject, kind of like how I use this blog.  With Google+ you can link to blogs, or re-share posts from other people, or put a video in the post, lots of different things.  You can link to things outside of Google+ too.  You make it what you want.

I use Google+ as a combination of Twitter and this Blog.  I post small status updates (I just spent $3,000 on auto repair), and I reshare things from other Plusers (I guess that's what we're called).  I've also started putting more info there, than on this blog.  It is just easier to do.  When I sit down to blog, I feel like I need to write something more profound than usual.  Those who know me will realize that profundity is not my strongest ability.  I don't post often, because I don't feel profound often.  I use Google+ more because I feel like it is a group of friends and acquaintances who chose to be made aware of what I want to say, whether profound or not.  If they get tired of my use of the service, they just 'uncircle' or block me, and they hear no more.  (Parishioners have to go to another parish to make that happen in real life!)

Update: No one is bothered by me, since I was banned.

Yes, there are some games to play too.  Being an "Angry Birds" addict, you can see my scores.

You choose who to follow, and who to share with by using the Circles feature.  Just like in real life, you have different relationships with different people.  They have some Circles set up for you to start.  One for Family, one for Friends, and I think one for Acquaintances.  As you find people on Google+, you drag them to one of those Circles, or make new Circles.  For example, I've added Circles for Priests and for Deacons and Religious.  I also have a Circle for people I want to follow and read their public updates, but probably won't ever interact with, I just want to listen to them.  So I also have a Circle called Following. 

With Circles, you can choose to share your posts with just some of the world.  I might post something that would only apply to other priests, so I don't share it with the entire public (anyone on Google+) or with my family.  I might post something to my family, and choose to only share it with them (none of my family are on Google+ and don't see a reason to join, they want me back on Facebook, so we're at an impasse).  Facebook only has one level, Friends.  You either Friend or Unfriend someone, and that's the only choice.  With Circles, I can move someone around to different Circles, or include them in multiple Circles, and remove them from a Circle at my discretion.

I can also export my data and leave Google+, and that's the feature I like the most.

One major thing to consider.  Google+ is just starting and not a completely finished product.  That's why you have to be 'invited.'  They will add new features, and change the way things work, and might even remove features, so you are participating in a Work in Progress.  So don't join if you don't want to be part of the growth of a new service.  But if you do join, and want to include me in a Circle, just search for "Father Bud Pelletier" (without the quote marks) and there I am.  No, Bud is not my real first name, but I think they might let me use my nickname

Update: Nope, not the nickname, nor the title.  C'est la vie.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

And in my free time . . .

Last September I was asked to serve as the Spiritual Advisor to our Diocesan Council of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.  Below is a video from the National Council giving a bit of an overview and history for the Society in the United States.

When I accepted the role, I really thought I knew all there was to know about the Society.  After all, every parish I've been in has had a local Conference.  They help people with food and other needs, direct Charity, very good, very nice, end of story.

Oh but I was so very, very poorly informed.  As it turns out, the Society has a rule, much like the rule of a religious order, that very definitely spells out that the goal is the spiritual growth of the members (also called Vincentians).  The way they help in the spiritual growth of the members is through the charitable activities.

That puts a much different spin on things for me, especially as a pastor.  These people seek to grow in a relationship with Christ, and through that relationship, serve the needs of others.  But it works both ways.  Some might come just out of a sense of charity, and through the Society, then come to a better relationship with Christ.  Any way you want, it all works, since the goal is the relationship with Christ.

I think I'll be writing more on the Society, and using some of the great social media work they've been doing at the Phoenix Council.  You'll probably get tired of it.  That's OK, just as long as you see the Society a little bit differently.  And if this gives you the itch to volunteer or donate, so much the better!