Babble Without a Pause

March 17, 2011

App-lied Religion

Early last week, the Catholic church announced with breathless excitement, the news everyone had been waiting to hear for decades now. No, the priests who sodomized children for decades weren’t finally found guilty and sentenced to life behind bars. The pope – who earlier the same week had urged his hordes of faithful minions priests worldwide, to “help people see the face of Christ on the Web, through blogs, Web sites and videos” –  announced the worldwide release of “Confession: A Roman Catholic App”, the 1st iPhone app officially sanctioned by the Catholic church (and now available through iTunes for only $1.99, YAY!), at a packed papal enclave at dawn.

For those not in the know, let me break it down for you. Catholic confession is an entirely futile exercise wherein non-ten-commandment-abiding sinners christians voluntarily enter a church-stationed wooden cubicle roughly twice a week, reveal saucy details of the wickedness and transgressions of their morally corrupt lives to a bishop, priest or cardinal on the other side of aforementioned box (separated by a veil), in hopes of absolution from the same clergyman who has lesser morals than an Aesop’s fable.

Retweeting the papal ordnance, a grumpy looking archbishop of Canterbury (better known by his twitter handle, @daddyneverlovedme) was heard incoherently grumbling something about how his church-sponsored iPhone was meant for snapping suggestive pictures of young altar boys, not for confession, of all things.

Aside from my barely-disguised animosity toward a catholic church besieged by scandal, and onto the star of this show, the app itself.  The login page of the app reads (and I am NOT kidding) : “Please touch a user below to continue”. Pardon my naivety, is this an app for confession or a how-to for repressed priests? Because, those guys have demonstrated quite conclusively that they don’t really need an invitation. It also purports to be the “Age, vocation and gender specific examination of conscience”. By that criterion, it baffles the mind how “Are you a middle aged, repressed lonely priest” is not the first question on this app. Maybe I’m jumping the gun a bit. I hear that’s scheduled for release in Confession 2.0.

The home page on iTunes goes on to promote the serious utility of such a handy app, citing it as “the iPhone app for making confession easier”. Gee, I wonder why Jesus didn’t think of that. Instead of travelling light years from his home in the sky, to offer himself for your sins, all he had to do was look up the great cosmic iTunes store, download the salvation app, answer a few trivial (for him) questions; and VOILA  redemption guaranteed for generations of unborn sinners. Or Moses. Silly ol’ Moses. Rather than sitting on Mt. Sinai for 40 days painstakingly carving 10 comandments in stone, he simply needed to connect to HeavenWireless, and download the pdf onto his tablet. Perhaps the prophet Mohammed should have asked the angel Gabriel to download the iKoran app to his phone, turn on bluetooth and sync it to his notebook atop Mount Hira. I mean, Gautama Buddha sounds like he was genuinely off his rocker, taking all his clothes off and sitting under a tree, when enlightenment was just a download away. Were he alive today, he’d only have to plug in his 13.1″ laptop to his BSNL 56k dial-up modem, and lookup Kurt Cobain on Google, to find nirvana.

The three god-fearing, born-again, young Catholic men from South Bend, Indiana, crafters of this supreme innovation seem to be not-too-quietly patting themselves on the back at their newly earned all access pass to the pearly gates. “We tried to make it as secure as possible,” says Patrick Leinen, a 31-year-old Internet programmer who built the app with his brother, Chip, a hospital systems administrator, and Ryan Kreager, a Notre Dame doctoral candidate. Yes, you got that right. “As secure as possible”. An app, developed by 3 out of work computer nerdlings, ostensibly overseen and inspired by clergymen. Definitely nothing that could go wrong there. Surely no backdoor (pun MOST CERTAINLY intended) to relay the contents of your daily electronic confession to the waiting eyes, ears (and hands?) of a thousand bishops in underground Vatican sweatshops, poring over details of your everyday life. If the app takes off in popularity like it’s developers expect it to, you honestly shouldn’t be surprised if father TouchMeLot approaches you after sunday service to let you know that he knows who you poked this week (on Facebook or otherwise), and whether or not you were using protection at the time of said poking (Note to non-technical readers: no matter how much the pope Benedict tries to convince you that using protection is sinful, it is good to protect yourself from nasty viruses transmitted by poking strangers wirelessly in public. Don’t believe me? Look here). Cardinal Angelo Sexophile now has up-to-the-minute stats on  all your transgressions which in turn allows him, at the proverbial click of a button, to shame you for the stunningly accurate count of times you yelled ‘Bloody Mary’ at that loud annoying girl Mary from work, slouched in the corner of the pub, while swigging your 10th bloody mary on a sad, lonely Friday night.

Confession has long been promoted by the church as a way to get closer to God, the path to redemption for the sinful (read, all non-Christian gentiles) to ease the burdens of their pagan lifestyle, and touted as the way to a lighter conscience. And now, it appears, a lighter wallet as well. A small request to future developers of the iSalvation, iPray, iBhajan, iNamaaz, iZen and other copycat apps; please don’t make me have to touch this Patrick guy, whoever he is, just to login to my e-confession. Please. I’d rather not.

 

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