Whether or not maps intrigue you, watch the first episode of Real + True

3 mins read
looking at map
Adobe Stock

Ava Lalor (New)People who know me well know that I have no sense of direction. Absolutely none when it comes to knowing where is north and what direction I’m facing from any given location. I get that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, but the sun doesn’t usually help me navigate where I’m going. Oh, and not to mention that I frequently mix up my left and right when issuing directions from the passenger seat.

Luckily, I’m pretty good with landmarks. My mental map is fairly dependable, which was a blessing when I moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana, three years ago and had to get used to driving in a much bigger city than I had ever lived (though Fort Wayne is very chill as cities go). Still, with the exception of needing to know where I’m going — and my phone GPS is always there if I need it — I’ve never been interested in maps or geography. While I know people who would spend hours creating their own map just for fun (aka my brother, and it was usually a map of a new fictional world he had created) or memorizing maps, I’ve always been too content with simply knowing where I am. Who cares how the highway system interconnects? (My apologies to certain people I know who care very much.) I get that maps are useful, but what’s so interesting about where things are unless you are physically there to experience it?

This is an image for the global project “Real + True” which aims to to “unlock” the catechism and modernize the way church teaching is presented to a digital age. Launched Sept. 7, 2021, the initiative includes videos, social media content and a podcast organized along the four pillars of the catechism. (CNS photo/Real True)

But a new initiative of OSV, Real + True, made me think twice about maps and even reconsider their purpose in my life — or, rather, what they reveal about life itself.

Real + True aims to spread the mission of the Church by developing a better understanding of and appreciation for the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and its creators and partners are doing so through innovative videos, social media content and a podcast.

As a Catholic who is embarrassed with how little I’ve read the Catechism (I at least read the entire YouCat in high school), I was eager to dive into this new initiative. But I was surprised by their approach. Unlike the Bible in a Year podcast where Father Mike Schmitz reads a few chapters of Scripture and unpacks them each day, this initiative is different. Instead of leading with the content of the catechism, the creative minds behind Real + True began by asking a few questions.

In their first episode, they start with the question “What would the Earth be like without maps?” Truth be told, this question has never passed my mind. But the video — and especially further questions and comments asked throughout — got me thinking and engaging with what they had to share.

As Edmund Mitchell, narrator and co-founder of Real + True, notes in the video: “We make maps because we want to know the universe, but we also have a deep desire to understand our place in the universe. And that seems to be the hardest question. Where do I fit on the map and how should I respond to my place in the world?”

Now these are questions that intrigue me. Mitchell goes on to say: “What if maps aren’t enough? What if they are a sign of the deepest desire of the human heart? Maybe we make maps of our hometown and maps of Mars because deep down we sense we’re made to know and respond to the infinite. Deep down, we sense we’re made for something greater than ourselves that we’re made for a great adventure.

“Our ancestors first looked up and made maps of the heavens. What if the heavens have made a map for us?”

It wasn’t until after the video ended that I realized Mitchell had never mentioned the Catechism once in the video. But what he did was stir up a curiosity in me that makes me eager to engage and learn more.

So, I would like to invite you to join me in following along with Real + True as they produce more content asking the big questions and providing the answers that the Church offers. If only we are curious enough to listen.

Ava Lalor is assistant editor for Our Sunday Visitor and editor for Radiant magazine.

Ava Lalor

Ava Lalor is associate editor for Our Sunday Visitor and editor for Radiant magazine.