Sunday, April 13, 2008

Spirited Talk

I have a confession to make: I love filling out surveys. Actually, I find them recreational. When I was a teenager, my mom participated in a survey group that sometimes sent products for "the 13- to 18-year-old girl" to try and then answer some questions about. I loved that. So, when I graduated from college, I registered for ZoomPanel and began completing surveys regularly, earning points towards lots of nifty prizes (including a small food processor, a pair of binoculars, and a waffle maker). If you are interested in trying out ZoomPanel, I would be happy to refer you. Just leave a comment or email me and I'll send you a link.


A few years ago I saw an advertisement on the back of a parish bulletin (yes, I do actually look at those from time to time) for SpiritedTalk.org, a survey-facilitator for Loyola Press. The website describes itself as a "unique online community of people willing to share their thoughts and ideas about Catholic life and faith." Although I wouldn't really call it a "community" (I have never interacted with the other participants), I agree with their assertion that, "By sharing your perspective, you will help Loyola Press improve our publications and better serve the greater Catholic community."

They do not invite me to complete surveys very often (only twice a year, if I remember correctly), but the surveys are about Catholic publications, which I thoroughly enjoy reviewing. I'm not registered for SpiritedTalk.org because I want to earn prizes; I participate because I want to help the editors choose good Catholic material to publish. And I've seen my opinions make a difference!

The last survey I took offered us information about four projects that Loyola Press was considering publishing. I read excerpts and answered questions (both multiple choice and short answer) about my impressions. I honestly thought two were lame and one was downright problematic - so I wrote why. But the fourth was awesome - inspiring material, incredibly well written. I urged them to publish the book. And they did! Months later, I received an email informing me that, due to positive feedback received via SpiritedTalk, They Come Back Singing: Finding God with the Refugees by missionary Jesuit Fr. Gary Smith was set to be published in February of 2008.

So I requested that my library purchase it (more on that in a future post) and they did - 3 copies! As soon as the one I'd reserved came in, I began a spiritual adventure of solidarity with the Sudanese refugees in northern Uganda. Fr. Smith's writing is clear and engaging, informative and full of love - of God and of the suffering people God called him to serve. Several times I have been moved to prayer by Fr. Smith's honest reflections on the beauty of the Sudanese and on his own frailty. Other times I have asked myself "how then shall I live?" with this new knowledge of the needs of brothers and sisters in Christ on other continents - and the abundance I take for granted every day. Perhaps God will call David and I to be missionaries (in a foreign land) someday? They Come Back Singing encourages me that such a life would be full of joy.

I highly recommend this book, if you're up for the challenge - and the blessings.

2 comments:

Michelle said...

Hi there! I came across your blog (I happen to work for Loyola Press) & I not only b/c I work for Loyola Press but I couldn't agree more with your love for They Come Back Singing. It really puts a "face" on the situation in Africa. We have so many blessings in the States & these poor people lack the very basic human needs. Fr Gary is very down to earth & so inspiring. At age 75, he is returning to Africa to serve. Talk about walking the walk!

*carrie* said...

Frances,

That does sound like a wonderful book!

I like taking surveys, too. I will have to check out the site you mentioned.