This Week in God

THIS WEEK IN GOD…. First up from the God Machine this week is an interesting commercial development, combining spirituality, technology, and entrepreneurship. (thanks to reader R.K.)

Information Age Prayer is a site that charges you a monthly fee to say prayers for you. A typical charge is $4.95 per month to say three prayers specified by you each day.

“We use state of the art text to speech synthesizers to voice each prayer at a volume and speed equivalent to typical person praying,” the company states. “Each prayer is voiced individually, with the name of the subscriber displayed on screen.”

Prices, however, are dictated by the length of the prayer. As noted in the Information Age Prayer FAQ, “A discounted prayer will cost less than other prayers of similar length.”

When I first saw the piece, I thought it was describing a fee-based service in which someone would pay to be prayed for — as in, I would spend my money and someone would in turn ask God to bless me. But that’s not this service — this is prayer outsourcing. As the thinking goes, people are busy, so they can pay money to pay a computer to say the prayers they don’t have time to say.

Have I mentioned lately that spirituality in the 21st century is fascinating?

Also from the God Machine this week:

* This week, a far-right state legislator in Oklahoma pushed a measure to have a Ten Commandments monument placed on the Capitol grounds. Asked which version of the Decalogue would receive the state’s endorsement — Catholics, Protestants, and Jews list the Commandments differently — state Sen. Randy Brogdon (R) said, “Probably an Oklahoma version.” I don’t think he was kidding.

* In the Texas legislature, there’s an effort underway to empower the Institute for Creation Research to grant Master of Science degrees.

* And reader M.W. alerted me to this unfortunate faith-based story: “A Tunisian pilot who paused to pray instead of taking emergency measures before crash-landing his plane, killing 16 people, has been sentenced to 10 years in jail by an Italian court along with his co-pilot.”