FT December 2005: Articles: "The next stop may be the digitizing of religious practice. Online confessions have been around at least since 1997, and although the Catholic Church has rejected the practice, that hasn’t closed down all the virtual confessionals. At Absolution-Online.com, for instance, you can enter the virtual booth, select your sins from five general classes of misdoing, and then proceed to the automated confessor, which doles out punishments normally consisting of some combination of fasting, Our Fathers, and Hail Marys. Although there is a disclaimer saying that the e-confessional isn’t sanctioned by the Catholic Church, most of its language is taken from the sacramental texts. Absolution-Online.com is also one of several sites that offers a virtual rosary. The website Universalis does an online version of the Liturgy of the Hours. Elsewhere there are cyber Seders and even Internet muftis.
Beliefnet’s Waldman thinks that this distancing of the self from the religious act can be helpful. “The anonymity of the Internet is what makes it work so well for religion,” he says. “It’s the flip side of why porn spreads. The same phenomenon that has led to pornography spreading, a variant of that has made religion one of the most popular topics online. It’s that you can explore religious matters in the privacy of your own home; ask questions you might be embarrassed to ask; have conversations with people with some anonymity; and do it anytime day or night.” This “anonymity combined with intimacy,” Waldman says, makes people “more inclined to open up,” since they aren’t revealing themselves totally.
To which one wants to say: Doesn’t that metaphor give you pause? Is a technique that has made pornography into the Internet’s number-one business really a good idea for religion, the Internet’s number-two business?
The failure of anonymous online pornography to be real sex is also the failure of anonymous online churching to be real religion: In both sex and religion, incarnation—the physical body—turns out to matter a great deal."
Interesting article. Read the part about the Jesus Poker Chips ("He went all in for you").