Gareth Mitchell of the BBC World Service programme Digital Planet (10/08/2010) presented one of the most hilariously ridiculous reports for a long time.The ‘Poor Clares nuns of St. Joseph’s in York have had a digital dot matrix display designed and made for them (in the shape of a chalice or a
candlestick candle with a text display on top) that gives a news feed of
global events and updates of the emotions and feelings of bloggers
around the world. For the last 18 months the Poor Clare's nuns have been
using this internet portal to help “guide their prayers”. Bill Gaver from Goldsmiths, London, who designed the unobtrusive device suitable to the "meditative environment" explained how these nuns have taken vows of socialisolation (enclosure) plus poverty and chastity (which Bill Gaver claims to have done his utmost to respect!).
Despite eschewing the world, these nuns "intercede in the world" - through prayer. However, thenuns needed more up-dated information than the radio apparently gave them so as to know who and what to pray for. Ergo adigital text display device prominently displayed in their prayer hall, which fetches search results using keywords such as 'feel'. Some of the results that came up were reportedly not always suitable, things like ‘I feel good’ (doubtless also less expected postings like ‘I feel like a few beers’ or ‘Why the devil do I feel like a good ****?” and so on).
The BBC presenter and Bill Gaver made complete asses of themselves in expounding the great benefits that can be expected from this innovation in glowing terms. They enthused over how subtly non-invasive of the nuns privacy and vows their device is. Unfortunately, though, the publicity about it had led to journalists knocking at the monastery doors… and the nuns – surprisingly (?) - also let some in to take photographs, despite their self-condemned total isolation from the world!
Professor Gaver (University of London!) actually said he was very proud of his "unobtrusive but effective" innovation! It allows the nuns not to just impose their own views in sending their prayers to the ‘higher plane, as it were’. the one which is really effective! He claimed "they are changing the way God looks at people who are unhappy". So are they instructing God too, as being more out of touch with things even than they are?
Why bother with the Internet at all? Why not just pray to God to do the right thing whoever, wherever, whatever? Can’t he (she, or it) manage to
figure the message and fit the answer to the need, (or the punishment to the crime)? Oddly, the presenter reported that the nuns had already got themselves a computer so as to get on-line (in addition to their traditional use of the radio). This unintended satire was amusing, if nothing more. Let the nuns pray for the victims of Pakistan’s floods, China's mudslides, Russia's drought - news items no one can possibly avoid - and have done
with it all so effectively (via God, of course)?