The Catholic Church is not exactly renowned for its progressive attitude towards technological progress. Just think of the belligerent attitude the Church still has towards contemporary next nature phenomena like condom use, the anti–conception pill or gay marriage and you’ll get the drift. When it comes to fund raising, however, the Church tends to be more technologically progressive.

During a recent visit of the Central Cathedral in Barcelona, Spain, I spotted these LED based wake lights, which seamlessly replace the wax candles traditionally used to make your prayer tangible. Apparently the God fearing people in control of the Church decided there is no noteworthy spiritual difference between LED’s and burning candles?

So far so good: praying is entirely about the intention of the individual making the prayer and a LED system is indeed more sustainable and less polluting than smoldering old fashioned wax candles.

Yet, there is another side effect of this modern frivolity, which I am still trying to get my head around. While with the system of wax candles, the Church just had to trust people to donate one coin for each candle being lid – one could easily lid a whole row of candles without paying, but of course this never really was a problem as God was always watching and would surely punish any misuse in the afterlife – the LED system is more secure: LED’s don’t lid unless you insert a coin.

I understand this increased technological security might well be an accidental side effect, yet I tend to interpret this as another tiny shred of evidence in my hypothesis that we are living in an age in which the moral functioning or religion is slowly but certainly being replaced by a technologically imposed morality.

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  • whats next? a vending machine for the body and blood of Christ?

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  • @João R.: Like I already said: I am still trying to get my head around this hypothesis that technology is replacing the moral functioning of religion. Let me explain: People who believe in a higher divine entity may at times make certain moral decisions – as God is always watching and will punish them in the afterlife if they behave wrongly. Hence socially, religion functions as a quite efficiently as a moral framework for people. In some part of the world this religious framework is weakened, however we get technologies in return that have more or less the same effect. Think for instance of all the closed circuit camera television networks that are always watching us. They also impose you to behave in a certain way because 'the cameras are always watching' and it will be noticed if you behave badly. Kind of the same thing? (I want to emphasize I am not complaining as I guess in the complex post-tribal societies we now live in, you will always need some kind of moral framework. Nonetheless it is worth a debate on how this seems to shift from religion to electronic technology.)

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  • Really good! Very interesting too. But I didn't understand very well the part in witch you say about your hypotesis. Is there any other place where it's shown? If no, could you tell more about it sometime? Thanks, and congratulations for the blog. It's really contemporary and relevant!

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