One of my closest and oldest friends is a Catholic priest. He’s pretty confident that he has a job for life. I hope for his sake he’s right, but computers and the internet have disrupted a lot of industries and I wonder if the Church might also be vulnerable to change.
It strikes me that a lot of the activities that priests carry out are quite repetitive. You might perhaps think of them as rituals. Saying prayers; reading passages from the Bible; conducting mass. Perhaps a digital recording of such things could be used instead? I don’t know, I’m not religious after all. Maybe there’s something I’m missing.
But if not, then maybe the church could go a step further and supply standardized liturgies, prayers and readings as MP3 downloads or podcasts to the faithful, thereby making enormous savings on human resources, and arguably providing a superior experience. In fact, why not allow people to worship in their own homes or other places at a time of their choosing? The Church could then sell off its obsolete buildings and make a killing in real estate.
After all, church attendance is falling. Businesses that are losing market share need to pay close attention to their customers’ needs and tailor their services to fit busy 21st century lifestyles. And making good use of technology is the way to do this.
Smartphones could be key to the success of this project. Everyone’s looking for a personal god these days, one that matches their requirements and, ideally, fits in a pocket and can be accessed 24/7.
There could be apps for prayers, masses, even confessions. As there are just seven deadly sins, a simple menu could be used for users to select the relevant one and receive a penance. (Select 1 for Pride, 2 for Gluttony, etc.) The app wouldn’t need to record any personal data, so I don’t see any privacy issues here, although building a Database of Sin might be an interesting project.
Anyway, I advised my friend to review his options and make sure that he keeps his transferable skills up to date, just in case something unexpected happens. I don’t think he took my advice half as seriously as he should have done. Perhaps he thought I was joking.