Monday, May 15, 2006

Ecclesia in 2020

As the cutting-edge Church of the Modern World, we’re here to make things comfortable and convenient for you. We’ve already rounded off some major feast days to the nearest Sunday, to spare you the time-intensive hassle of going to church twice in the same week (don’t forget, “Ascension Sunday” is coming up: 40, that is, 43 days after the Resurrection, just like it says somewhere in the latest Bible CDs). Now we have a new option for you. Soon we will probably be shelving that disagreeable practice of confession altogether, but in the meantime we are proud to announce Online Absolution for your convenient fulfillment of that tedious obligation. This will save you the time and trouble of waiting in line (not that there ever is one) outside the confessional.

Here’s how it works. Just log on to www.cyberconfessional.com and hit the Enter key. This is how you “enter” the confessional (little joke there). Make sure your sound and your PC microphone are turned on, by the way. Once you enter the cyber confessional you will be introduced to your online confessor, Monsignor Microchip. No need to fear; he is a user-friendly confessor and always gives easy, meaningless penances. You can make a keystroke confession or, if your computer supports it, a voice-activated one.

Start by pulling down the Personal Profile menu. This way, Monsignor Microchip (or, if someone has already logged on to him, his assistant, Father File-Format) will have some idea of what template to use in evaluating your confession. Choose from “Basically Good” (most people select this), “Tend to Be a Crank,” or “I’ve no Idea Why I Have to Go to Confession.” If you’re still a little nervous or not sure how to proceed (since most likely you haven’t been to confession for some years now), click on the “Help” icon and Monsignor will direct you to the “standard sins” menu. Pull that down and select whatever applies. Be honest now, for as soon as you logged on to this site, “conscience spyware” was downloaded into your computer, so Monsignor can tell if you’re holding anything back. If you’ve been exceptionally bad, click the “advanced” tab for a menu of the nastier sins.

If you’re really sorry, select the “cyber-tears” option, then press “insert.” Monsignor will notice your compunction and will compassionately reassure you that all is well. If you want him to do that repeatedly, just keep clicking the “refresh” icon. For penance he will most likely request (though there may be one of those *required fields here) that you make an online donation to cyberconfessional.com, so have your credit card handy. After all, even electronic ecclesiastics need some maintenance from time to time.

Now comes the great moment. Turn the volume up (if you are hearing-impaired, click the “say what?” icon, and the formula of absolution will appear in a 36 point, Old English font on your screen). Now listen (bow your head too—the spyware is watching) as Monsignor pronounces the words you’ve been waiting to hear: “Those really aren’t sins, you know; the only real sins are intolerance and not being good to yourself, but if you insist on living in the past and clinging to your silly traditions, very well then, go in peace and be free from whatever was causing your neurotic guilt.” Now go back to your list of sins, click “select all,” then “delete.” Voila! Your trash folder has been purged!

I tried this once, just to see if it would work, but as soon as I hit the “delete” button, I received a “system error” message, code number “x000diablo000”: unable to execute command; you are still in your sins…beep!...still in your sins…beep!...still in your…

Then I decided to get down on my knees and repent from my heart. I found a living, breathing priest of God, confessed my sins, received absolution from the mouth of Christ through him, did my penance and walked away in the joyful freedom of the children of God. I’ll use my computer for other things…