Outsourcing prayer as a hardware routine

Paul Raven @ 23-03-2009

This is something straight out of a Philip K Dick story… or maybe a Douglas Adams novel. Worried that your hectic lifestyle doesn’t leave enough time for prayer? Concerned that your panoply of Earthly duties might detract from your devotionals? Never fear – the good people of Information Age Prayer have got your back:

Information Age Prayer is a subscription service utilizing a computer with text-to-speech capability to incant your prayers each day. It gives you the satisfaction of knowing that your prayers will always be said even if you wake up late, or forget.

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

Somewhere there is a room full of computers* that sounds like a chorus of Stephen Hawkings reciting the Beatitude… which is a pretty weird thought for a Monday morning. Or any morning, come to think of it. And hey, just in case you were thinking that Information Age Prayer was some sort of cop-out or shortcut:

At Information Age Prayer we think our service should be used like a prayer supplement, to extend and strengthen a subscriber’s connection with God. Traditional prayer is an integral part of this connection and should never be forgone, even after signing up.

I think my brain is broken. More coffee is needed… [via Pharyngula]

[ * – The more I think about this room-full of chanting computers, the more I suspect that it may not actually exist. ]

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11 Responses to “Outsourcing prayer as a hardware routine”

  1. Patrick Kennedy says:

    aww, dammit! I was just writing a story based on this. I thought it was funny when I thought of it.

    Stupid reality intruding on my future. 🙂

  2. Madeline Ashby says:

    Recordings and mashups, please.

    (And I thought I was having fun when I asked if the Church could baptize robots…)

  3. Tony Indindoli says:

    It is not unprecedented to outsource prayer, for example leaving a written note for nuns or monks to pray for your specific needs, and this transaction is available over the internet now. Buddhist communities in the Himalaya have prayer “technologies” such as prayer flags, which use the power of the wind to recite prayers for you, and prayer wheels, which recite the written prayer when turned, allowing multiply prayers with minimal effort.

  4. Khannea says:

    This is nothing new and should be, if taken to the logical conclusions, be a source of significant entertainment.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prayer_wheel

  5. bfwebster says:

    Well, I went to the site and in the interests of investigative journalism, purchased a one-time prayer. The transaction (via Paypal) went all the way through and I got the confirmation of payment e-mail direct from Paypal, which means that Information Age Prayer is collecting money.

    On the other hand, the tone on the website sounds fairly tongue-in-cheek. They may well have one or more PCs set up with voice synthesizer software; between that and their 10% donation to valid charities, I suspect they have sufficient legal coverage to avoid any charges of fraud.

    Of course, when I read your post, I immediately thought of Arthur C. Clarke’s short story, “The Nine Billion Names of God.” I suspect these people may have read that story as well. 🙂 ..bruce..

  6. Jack Deighton says:

    I once lived next to a (pretty fundamentalist) Christian couple who recorded prayers on a cassette tape recorder so that they could be played while they were at work, being otherwise busy, or having a meal or something.
    While my wife and I thought that if you couldn’t be bothered to pray properly by yourself without a machine why should your god pay any attention to you they thought this was original and were most upset when we compared this to prayer wheels. (Which they’d never heard of.)

  7. Steve says:

    I hope those computers don’t finish reciting the nine billion names of God any time soon.

  8. Tony Indindoli says:

    to quote the wikipedia article on prayer wheels:

    ” However Lama Zopa Rinpoche has said, “The merit of turning an electric prayer wheel goes to the electric company. This is why I prefer practitioners to use their own ‘right energy’ to turn a prayer wheel”. ”

    Which is a thought that also crossed my mind. If a religious Grandmother has purchased prayers to be recited daily, on behalf of her grandson without his knowledge, on who’s account does the “merit” go?

  9. Tom Marcinko says:

    I too thought of the Clarke story, in case anybody’s counting.

  10. GLP says:

    I have just sold a story with a similar premise. I *thought* I was being satirical…

  11. Sterling Camden says:

    If that’s truly effective, maybe I could set up a computer to repeat “yes, dear” to my wife.