Of the listing of websites that Catholic Techie Andrew Haines sent me, the that I clicked first on was Juicy Ecumenism. I mean, how could I not? Then I proceeded to click down through the other sites he sent me, and the rabbit trail that followed was both beautiful to behold and intriguing.

His company's name, for one thing, got my attention. It's Fiat Insight. And yeah, how's that for Catholic? How's that for a nod to Mama? How's that for a fun site to click through? (Admittedly, I'm a bit of a techie junkie.)

He's also involved with Ethika Politika and Cleveland Mixer (which, when my two-year-old son saw it, required a full five minutes of clicky fun). Of course, there are more. Many more.

And did I mention he runs the nonprofit Center for Morality in Public Life? Yeah, there's that, too.

His faith's at the heart of the work he does, and I think that's what makes this interview with Andrew noteworthy. It's what makes him a Catholic techie. :)


Tell us about yourself in five words or less.

Philosophy doesn't pay the bills.

Of your pursuits, what's your favorite?

As a father, husband, CTO of Fiat Insight, editor of an online journal (Ethika Politika), and grad student, I have a fair number of pursuits!

Honestly, though, this is becoming more and more the status quo: I don't see myself as more "involved" than most others. Today, people have ever-increasing access to different types of communication and work, and dealing with them is more and more put at odds with the basic responsibilities of family life.

For my pursuits—happily—there's no apples-to-apples comparison. If I had to boil it down to a "favorite," it'd be something like "building community"—the thing that connects my life as Dad, my relationship with clients, and the beliefs I hold most dearly as a Catholic.

When you think of the New Evangelization from your approach as a "Catholic Techie," what excites you? What makes you want to continue?

This is probably the wrong question! Not because it's a bad one, but because it's so central (and I'm going to have a hard time avoiding a philosophical rant about why that's the case).

In a word, I think, the New Evangelization is the answer to a major "crisis of culture" (to use a phrase from Pope Benedict) that we all struggle with each day. I'm not convinced that we really appreciate the role that technology plays in culture forming, since I'm not sure we know—at least most of us—what real Christian culture looks like.

Being a "Catholic Techie," one has a strange mix of responsibilities: first and foremost, to try to live and promote the Faith, its fullness and its tradition; and secondly to produce "things" that connect with that bigger picture. "Catholic Techie" is more than just "web developer" or "strategist," since—like anything beautiful—authentic faith requires a lived witness, not just crafty words or impressive skills.

This is an exciting prospect! Something that many people either don't notice or aren't pursuing. That's what makes me want to do it every day.

What's the most rewarding aspect of your work?

Building websites and applications that do what they're supposed to do, are easy to use, and—maybe most importantly—convey real beauty. If we do that, I'm quite pleased.

(I thought about saying "I enjoy providing custom solutions to client problems," but honestly, beauty and functionality are the only solution. The whole point of web development is to help people extend their normal lives in a digital way—since humans are created to be workers and prayers, that means their lives are filled with both function and beauty. Finding ways to connect "real life" to digital media means focusing on the tangible, even tactile parts of web use. We see this even from a non-Christian perspective in "usability" and "intuitive interface" design. It's all the more important—and rewarding—for a Catholic to take these things very seriously.)

In your spare time, what are we likely to find you doing? Do you have a gadget in hand or do you go native and screenless?

Spare time? What's that? Really, they didn't stop making it in 2010? :)

Back when I used to have spare time, I got in the habit of reading books on paper. I still really enjoy that. I also really enjoy a glass of wine (Virginia has a plethora of wineries and neat craft beverages), which I'm convinced is the antidote to 9 hours of staring at a MacBook.

Honestly, one of my favorite things to do—call me crazy (you wouldn't be the first)—is to wake up early, around 4 a.m., and start my day off with a couple hours of peaceful reading and writing. And of course, I greatly look forward to the weekends, when I get to spend the most time with my kids and my wife: I have a three-year-old son and a one-and-a-half-year-old daughter—'nuff said!

Want more Catholic Techie interviews? Here you go.


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Copyright 2013 Sarah Reinhard