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Big News: NE1 nos txt msgs R PITA! YKWIMAITYD

Big News

NE1 nos txt msgs R PITA! YKWIMAITYD

By Dave Crampton

Well, if you can understand this week’s heading, that’s just too bad. You’re sick. You must have read the only book that has outsold Harry Potter last Christmas – well, in the UK at least. The book is entitled WAN2TLK? ltle bk of txt msgs. It was the top selling book prior to Christmas in the UK - Harry Potter books cleaned up the rest of the top five.

Text messages are big. Text messages are huge. The text message is the fastest growing cult around – and with no PR , advertising or marketing. More than 10 billion text messages are sent every year from mobile phones. That’s $NZ 2,000,000,000 worth of one way communication transactions going to phone companies every year. Some kids buy mobile phones and never talk to anyone, they ‘re too busy texting. Some schools have banned texting as well as Harry Potter.

Anyone knows text messages are a pain in the arse! You know what I mean and I think you do. That’s the heading in longhand. I`m sure many teachers will agree text messages are a PITA during school hours.

But text messages are also a means to eternal life and the church is getting in behind it all. The Hanover Evangelical Youth Church in Germany even had its own text message service to anybody who wanted to register – the only problem was that they had to record the 325 characters of the Lords Prayer down to the maximum 160 characters of a text message. Anything for a short church service. More than 1000 registered to take part, which is probably at least 50 times what they`ll pack into the pews in any case. It’s all about combining technology with tradition and taking church to where people are at, cont-txt-ualising the message in short snappy phrases to all people who haven’t been to church since their confirmation.

One Internet site- http://www.ship-of-fools.com -- decided to give the German church a hand. They recently had a Lords Prayer text message competition entitled “R fthr” (hu rt n hvn, I presume) and asked for all comers to contribute with the top prayer to be listed on the site this week. I would have called it “R Fr”.

But it’s not just the mobile phone that is spreading the Word. More than 50 million people will rely solely on the Internet for their entire faith based experiences within the next 10 years. You could call it godonline.com. Currently, 8 percent of adults and 12 percent of teenagers use the Internet for religious experiences in the States, according to Barna Research Group who has researched this sort of carry-on. However many of these people are not church-goers anyway, so it’s not as if people are leaving the bricks and mortar for the net-based cyber church – yet. But there are already signs that it is happening. There are cyber Churches out there. One cyber pastor is getting paid about US$30 000 to write sermons to his flock, most of whom he has never met. I s’pose it brings new meaning to “let your fingers do the talking”.

I guess there`s no excuse for missing church – unless the computer crashes or there’s a power cut. But you can get sermons delivered to your email address now if you want. And your phone, in some certain test-message cases.

However the Vatican has ruled out on-line confessions for all connected members of the congregation. I guess that includes priestly messages such as “U R 4gvn nd I abslv u frm ur sn – go n sn no mre “ on your cellphone. “It cannot be turned into an online recycle bin for sins in place of face-to-face confessions”, a senior Vatican official said last week of virtual confessions – and he probably said it by telephone or e-mail. I guess virtual communion is a bit hard to administer as well, unless you`ve got some holy wine stashed at home. Mind you, you can rent a priest for weddings, parties and anything at http://www.rentapriest.com Online priests are particularly busy during the summer wedding season. Most are married priests who have split from the church and the Vatican is understandably pissed off with them.

I wonder if these married priests get hitched through Internet sites such as http://www.christiancafe.com, a dating service where you can register to find your perfect match – or a pen-pal. Some have code names like jesuslovesme233 or praisehim544. Didn`t see one with phwoaarr666, though. If you`re in a hurry , you can get “quick-matched” to somebody who is like you, if you so desire. Sounds to me like “quick match” is a Christian way of having an affair if you happened to be married with three kids and wanted to opt out and meet someone else who is married with three kids. Of course most people are unattached; but there’s a few dodgy Christians who use such sites to see if they can get a better a better marital deal. I note that there is no category for married people, just “involved” which could mean anything from the first date, a de facto partnership, marriage, an affair or a blatant lie.

Oh, it’s a mixed up, mismatched world isn’t it. But don’t worry - .New Zealand hasn`t been turned upside down. God is still in heaven and all is well with the world.

- Dave Crampton is a Wellington-based freelance journalist, in addition to writing for Scoop he is the Australasian correspondent for newsroom-online.com. He can be contacted at davec@globe.net.nz

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