You mean I can have the equivalent of a reverse voodoo hex placed on my electronics?! Nice! This will surely improve my ipod/iphone in a significant and noticeable way!
Two hymns had been sung and the sermon preached when the Rev Canon David Parrott lifted his right hand to begin the blessing of the smart phones.
The congregation at St Lawrence Jewry in the City of London raised their mobiles and iPods above their heads and Canon Parrott raised his voice to the heavens to address the Lord God of all Creation. “May our tongues be gentle, our e-mails be simple and our websites be accessible,” he said.
Great efforts have been made to modernise the Church of England, but its liturgy dates from before the arrival of the Nokia 6310, and until yesterday, none had been brave enough to adapt its ceremonies to address the modern mysteries of 3G network coverage, iPhone apps and variable battery life.
But if anyone can, the Canon can. Even before he came to St Lawrence Jewry, Canon Parrott was known for his dynamic approach. In his former parish, he once dressed up as a Christmas tree to promote the message of Christmas.
Yesterday, in the church of the City of London Corporation, he presented an updated version of Plow Monday, an observance that dates from medieval times. On this day, the first Monday after Twelfth Night, farm labourers would bring a plough to the door of the church to be blessed.
“When I arrived a few months ago I looked at this service and thought, ‘Why do we have a Plow Monday?’,” Canon Parrott said. Men and women coming to his church no longer used ploughs; their tools were their laptops, their iPhones and their BlackBerries.
So he wrote a blessing and strode out to deliver it before a congregation of eighty, the white heat of technology shining from his every pronouncement. “I invite you to have your mobile phone out … though I would like you to put it on silent,” he said.
This was Church 2.0. Behind him, the altar resembled a counter at PC World. Upon it, laid out like holy relics, were four smart phones, one Apple laptop and one Dell.
When he stepped up to deliver his sermon, the melody of a million ringtones played on the organ. One almost expected Canon Parrott to bellow: “Hello! I’m just giving a service!”
Instead, he expounded upon some verses from Exodus that contained a lesson “which is exactly what the Corporation of London’s training department is delivering in their sessions and teamwork today”.
Then, after another hymn, came the blessing of the smart phones. The Lord Mayor of London offered his BlackBerry to Canon Parrott, which was received with due reverence and placed upon the altar.
Then the congregation held their phones in the air, and Canon Parrott addressed the Almighty. “By your blessing, may these phones and computers, symbols of all the technology and communication in our daily lives, be a reminder to us that you are a God who communicates with us and who speaks by your Word. Amen.”
Worshippers left the church to return to their desks and computers, a place where the Word is not the living gospel but a piece of software that formats documents.
Colin Ashcroft, 47, who works in IT, said that he had been pleased to be remembered directly in the prayers. Did he sense the presence of God within the operations of mobile phone software? “Certainly it has a mind of its own sometimes,” he said. “Whether that’s God or not I don’t know.”
Others felt uncomfortable. Rita Bullough, 60, a retired secretary, said that she found the blessing “quite amusing” and she was not sure if amusement had any place within a church service. “I wasn’t entirely comfortable with it,” she said.
Nick Anstee, the Lord Mayor was delighted, however. “My BlackBerry is two years old but it’s a fantastic model,” he said. Now it was also a blessed instrument.
“I was asked whether I had a message during the service,” he said. “I will check later, though I don’t suppose He has provided the message.”
Even on a good day, the Vodafone network does not stretch quite that far.
Thanks to JT for this one