The act of confession contains two parts, confession and absolution, but many dimensions. A Catholic confesses to the priest, in the role of intercessor, who determines the suitable absolution. The app won’t absolve you…but that minor restraint in the app’s development doesn’t justify its existence.
The app is supposed to bring people back to the faith–and even boasts an imprimatur— but this mission misses out on some key themes that keep religion relevant in the modern era.
If communities and traditions–especially religious ones–are meant to be a safe harbor from social isolation and fragmentation of meaningful conversation, then communications technology like this trivializes that experience in favor of convenience, impersonality, and gimmicks.
I can’t argue the benefit of accessibility (to some, see below), but at what cost? The process gets de-sanctified if you can do it while you are waiting for your laundry, sitting on the toilet, or riding the bus. One can, of course, pray in these scenarios, but confession has always been a distinct, developed, inherently ritualized form of prayer.
Setting aside time in one’s day, entering a quiet room, and baring your soul…is it as meaningful on a iPhone? Confession has always rested on the rite of unburdening one’s soul to a priest–untethering the process from the rite denies that what is on one’s mind is unworthy of the priest’s time–and their own.
This Catholic News Service article reads like an Onion piece.
An inspirational quote pops up after you enter in your confession?
It also generates an examination of conscience.
But will it be sensitive, will it listen, will a voice readout of the text issue from the speakers with a slight tone of compassion?
App functionality includes a compendium of prayers (that actually sounds practical) and the ability to list your sins so you don’t forget any when ‘confessing’! However, one must still go to a priest for absolution.
Instead of merely being a sociological debasement of the 21st century relevance of religion, it may also be a direct marketing tool: one has to enter one’s age, sex, vocation, date of last confession, et al. This information is stored by the app.
Josh Harris (of I Kissed Dating Goodbye fame) about tweeting in church.
Glenn Schuck, religious studies professor at Williams College, identifies new media in church as more likely to be a Protestant process, as it relies less on authority and intercession.
Let’s be real: this is elitist. Not everyone can afford a smart phone, Apple product or otherwise. I don’t have a smart phone. Good thing I wasn’t going to use this anyway.