Taking veneration to the cloud!

Image of man in church in prayer The universal serial bus (USB) port is probably the single-most versatile connector on your computer. Developed in the mid-90s, it is an industry standard which defines the cables, connectors, and communications protocols for connecting, communicating and supplying power between computers, peripherals and/or other electronic devices. Common usage includes keyboards, pointing devices, digital cameras, printers, portable media players, disk drives, network adapters, smartphones, PDAs and video game consoles.

Some of the lesser known USB devices, germane to this missive, include the USB Turntable, the USB Personal Office Fan, the USB Personal Heat Comfort Pad, the USB Coffee Cup Warmer and, for the outdoorsman, the Rechargeable USB Cigarette Lighter.

But wait... it gets better. There's the USB Humping Dog, the USB Personal Pleasure Vibrator for the modern business woman and, in case you've ever wondered why Cubicle Boy down the hall is always smiling, the USB Personal Pocket Pussy. Moderately impressed by the depths to which the entrepreneurial spirit could sink in an effort to pimp otherwise useless crap to the unwashed masses, I donned a pyramid-shaped tinfoil hat and conjured up a product that can, in my view, easily be marketed to the lowest common denominator. It is... if you listen close you can hear seven trumpets and it's not the Tijuana Brass... the iGod!

Mosques, synagogues and churches require considerable capital investment. Moreover, there are significant ongoing costs associated with the continuing operation of such institutions. And when the combined effects of Canada's changing demographic, declining attendance and urban sprawl are factored into the equation, the fiscal viability of new institutional construction is likely untenable. Although the disappearance of Blockbuster and the emergence of Netflix coincide, it is not coincidental. Their respective failure and success are a direct consequence of their respective business model or, more precisely, the model's ability to embrace technology and conduct business in the cloud environment where substantially lower capital investment and associated operating costs are required. Salvation, like the entertainment industry, is a commodity and if religion is to undergo a resurgence then veneration better move to the cloud... and fast. The ethereal needs a new business model; one capable of catering to the spiritual needs of the savvy techno-pious and one which embraces technology. Virtual places of worship can provide parishioners new eWorship opportunities through the miracle of the iGod.

The iGod, as I would envision, is a simple USB device which, when connected to a PC's USB port, launches the iGod application software and connects the righteous to a virtual house of worship. (Smartphone and tablet versions of the iGod app would also be available.) The intuitive graphical user interface would provide multiple configuration options including the ability to select deity, faith, church, ecclesia, denomination and sect to accommodate a multiplicity of religions. Advanced options include the ability to access individualized religious observances including confessions, rabinical edicts, fatwas, marriages, funeral services and much, much more allowing the faithful the ability to custom tailor their iGod experience to their specific spiritual need.

Embracing the iGod technology would not bring about the elimination of traditional religious facilities. It would, however, streamline the provision of services and greatly reduce the number of fixed structures and overall operating costs. While some rituals, such as the Catholic confessional, might be well-suited to the iGod and easily facilitated using a secure internet connection, other spiritual rites of passage, the brit milah as practiced in the Jewish faith for example, would be less likely in a virtual setting. Afterall, one simply might not wish to rely on a neighbour wielding a Swiss army knife to step in as mohel to perform the all-important weenie bob-job.

Certainly the iGod and eWorship would not be without its detractors. But I'd wager 30 silver coins that those same critics were, in the not too distant past, lined up in a bank queue with a fist full of utility bills and a paycheque once a month. Come to think of it, who, apart from drug dealers and fraudsters working under the table, doesn't use online banking for the vast majority of their financial transactions? The time for the iGod is nigh and in the words of the infamous Bob Dylan, "The Times They Are a-Changin'".

Submitted by Jeff Dubois, 02 May 2012