Information Age Prayer Pray-O-Mat
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. 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."
I'm fascinated by the intersection between religion and technology, as are some of my favorite science fiction writers. For example, if a machine can say a prayer for you, why not have a fully robotic pope and clergy?
(Project Pope by Clifford Simak [cover])
In his 1971 story Good News From The Vatican, writer Robert Silverberg tells the story of a robot cardinal who might one day become pope.
Rabbi Mueller removes his sunglasses... "I can tell you that his Eminency is tall and distinguished, with a fine voice and a gentle smile..."
"But he's mounted on wheels, isn't he?" Kenneth persists.
"On treads," replies the rabbi, giving Kenneth a fiery, devastating look. "Treads, like a tractor has. But I don't think treads are spiritually inferior to feet, or, for that matter, to wheels..."
"Every era gets the Pope it deserves," Bishop Fitzpatrick observed somewhat gloomily today at breakfast. "The proper Pope for our times is a robot, certainly..."
(Read more about Silverberg's robot pope)
In Roger Zelazny's Hugo award-winning 1967 novel Lord of Light, he describes a pray-o-mat:
It was a machine, gleaming and metallic, before which they moved.
A man inserted a coin into the mouth of a steel tiger. The machine began to purr. He pressed buttons cast in the likenesses of animals and demons. There came then a flashing of lights along the lengths of the Nagas, the two holy serpents who twisted about the transparent face of the machine.
The man drew down upon the lever that grew from the side of the machine cast in the likeness of the tail of a fish.
A holy blue light filled the interior of the machine; the serpents pulsed redly; and there, in the midst of the light and a soft music that had begun to play a prayer wheel swung into view and began spinning at a furious pace.
The man wore a beatific expression.
(Read more about Zelazny's pray-o-mat)
Philip K. Dick fans will no doubt insist that I include the empathy box originally introduced in his 1964 story The Little Black Box:
Joan saw a metal box with two handles, attached by a lead of twin-cable wire to the TV set. Ray seized the two handles, and at once a grimace of pain shot across his face...
"This is the empathy box, my dear... when you take hold of these handles you're no longer watching Wilbur Mercer. You're actually participating in his apotheosis. Why, you're feeling what he feels."
(Read more about Dick's empathy box)
I should also note that one of the manifestations of Number Six in the most recent incarnation of Battlestar Galactica is very religious. "Head-Six" (or "inner six") often tries to get Baltar to believe in the Cylong God and to accept his place in God's plan.
(Baltar and Six)
Bow your head and click, that you might see these stories more clearly:
Read more at the Information Age Prayer site and the Information Age Prayer FAQ. Thanks to Moira for pointing this one out.
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