On April Fools Day, two of the world’s longest standing organizations–each of which just happen to be religious orders–traded blogs. The “rival” Society of Jesus and Order of Preachers faked a blog takeover, each writing posts for one another.
Now, this may not be general knowledge in pop culture, but anyone familiar with one of these long-standing religious groups has heard at least one Jesuit-Dominican joke. The Jesuits and Dominicans are each teaching orders, largely responsible for the foundation of education in much of the world. These historically well-established religious institutions, with 17,000 and 6,000 members worldwide, respectively, the Jesuits and Dominicans have been swinging between friendly and not-so-friendly rivals since the 16th century. Five hundred years of smart guys in robes accusing each other of heresy affords thousands of nerdy jokes, particularly as both Dominicans and Jesuits are notoriously nerdy folk.
Each blog effected a substantial “takeover,” publishing several posts written by the opposite order, all riddled with comic references to one or the other order.
Theologians eat this stuff up. Yes, you have to actually know that “The Angelic Doctor” refers to St. Thomas Aquinas–one of the most famous theologians of all time, and a Dominican himself, to understand that every line of this blog post is a spoof of his centuries-old, 3500-page Summa Theologiæ, but if you do, you’re sure to keep reading.
This April Fools joke took the online realm of religion and theology by storm. As followers of either blog, unlikely EVER to visit the opposite page, discovered the spoof, they quickly shared one or the other homepage, drastically increasing the traffic to each blog for the day–and the next few days, to the confusion of anyone who saw the posts too late, and sadly missed the joke.
Meanwhile, prominent placement of the Like and Share buttons, and frequent references by each order to their own blog, encouraged readers to follow both pages.
With a little collaboration–disguised as friendly rivalry–the Jesuit Post and Dominicana pulled off a subtle act of social media brilliance. What appears to be a goofy joke for online theology nerds is actually a brilliant strategy for any two sites seeking to increase traffic. And for a church that’s been infamously lagging behind the times, I say, well done.
Mossa, Mark S.J. “Jesuits vs. Dominicans.” …and I Let Myself Be Duped. Feb. 16, 2006. <http://markmossasj.blogspot.com/2006/02/jesuits-vs-dominicans.html>
Stephen, Br. Henry, O.P. “Jesuitica and the Dominican Post.” Dominicana. Apr. 2, 2014. <http://www.dominicanablog.com/2014/04/02/jesuitica-and-the-dominican-post/>
“Whether the Society of Jesus is Greater than the Order of Preachers?” The Jesuit Post (as The Dominican Post). Apr. 1, 2014. <https://thejesuitpost.org/2014/04/dominicana-top-ten-posts/>