What’s next, Facebook communion? From the annals of the just plain strange comes Information Age Prayer, a web service that lets your computer do your praying for you. “Do you work the late shift? Can't make it to morning prayer?” asks the site. “You can still get the feeling of having your prayers said on time by signing up for the Catholic Morning Prayer, Protestant Morning Prayer, Muslim Fajr Salat or the Jewish Morning and Evening Shema.” Subscribers can purchase prayer packages that the computer will say in your place. “It gives you the satisfaction of knowing that your prayers will always be said even if you wake up late, or forget.” Information Age Prayer (http://informationageprayer.com) uses text-to-speech technology to read the prayers “at a volume and speed equivalent to typical person praying.”
Currently, the site offers prayers for the Protestant, Muslim, Catholic and Jewish faiths, and it will be adding more religions in the future.
A month of Paternosters will set you back $3.95; an individual Hail Mary costs seven cents. At this price, I could have bought my way out of penance after my last confession for a little more than two bucks. If only the Internet had existed twenty five years ago, I would have had a lot more time to sin instead doing all those Hail Mary’s the priests made me say.
(Of course, if the Internet had existed twenty-five years ago, I would have been on it 24/7, researching D&D and tropical fish, seriously cutting into my sin time.)
While putting aside any theological problems that might arise from having a non-sentient machine talk to God for you, or the fact that Luther would consider selling prayers Indulgences 2.0, Information Age Prayer is just plain wrong.
If there is indeed a personal God, I'm not sure God would approve of such impersonal dialogue.