Who says you can’t have a phone line to God?
iStockphoto.com Catholic clergy in Italy have had a lot to get upset about recently. First, Italian Catholics who have a custom of carrying around tiny pictures of saints in their wallets and purses no longer have to worry about their santini becoming worn and tattered. Instead, they can buy a €3 ($4.50 U.S.) weekly subscription from ...
Catholic clergy in Italy have had a lot to get upset about recently. First, Italian Catholics who have a custom of carrying around tiny pictures of saints in their wallets and purses no longer have to worry about their santini becoming worn and tattered. Instead, they can buy a €3 ($4.50 U.S.) weekly subscription from a Milan-based company that lets them download images of three saints onto their mobile phones. (Did Italians ever consider just laminating their santini?) Accompanying prayers cost about 50 U.S. cents, which sounds like a bargain. But a bishop complained to La Stampa newspaper that the downloadable saints are “in really bad taste.”
What’s really in bad taste, though, is a recent TV commercial for Red Bull energy drink. It was pulled in Italy after a priest complained that it depicted the nativity scene in a “sacrilegious way.” The ad shows four wise men, not three, visiting baby Jesus. The fourth wise man offered the infant cans of Red Bull. The commercial ends with fluttering angels in the sky chugging Red Bull and illustrating the company’s slogan, “Red Bull gives you wings.” You can watch it here:
Of course, Christianity isn’t the only religion in which connecting to God via mobile phones has caused a stir. Ring tones that feature Koranic verses and azan, calls to prayer, have had a mixed reception in the Muslim world, as FP noted earlier this year.
Culture almost always takes time to adapt to new technologies. In the 19th century, Muslims were divided about gramophone recordings of their holy book. Saudi clerics denounced the television when it was first introduced to the kingdom. But except for groups such as the Amish, people the world over seem to have found ways to make religion and technology compatible. Some people just need more time to adapt than others.
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