back to article Church of England will commune with God for you via Amazon's Echo

Technology worship has ascended to a higher spiritual plane with the Church of England now offering the faithful daily voice-activated prayers from Amazon's smart home kit, Echo. Using the new Alexa "skill", believers can ask the CoE for prayers, explanations of the Christian faith and location-based information about local …

  1. LDS Silver badge
    Joke

    So we're back to worship...

    ... female gods?

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: So we're back to worship...

      Did you just assume the gender of an entity?

      1. Mycho Silver badge

        Re: So we're back to worship...

        I think there may have been a divine revelation involved.

      2. LDS Silver badge

        "Did you just assume the gender of an entity?"

        As long as they have female names and female voices...

    2. Teiwaz Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: So we're back to worship...

      So we're back to worship...

      ... female gods?

      I was under the impression many already did.

      Paris: Not a very omnipotent female god - but possibly good for bacanals. (at the very least the catering should be a breeze).

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So we're back to worship...

      The Discworld had many female gods.

      "Gods exist in potentia in numbers uncountable, but the moment an event of any note occurs – say, two snails happening to cross at a single point – a god becomes tied to it and begins to manifest in the physical world."

      Possibly Alexa's sister is Anoia.

    4. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: So we're back to worship...

      "Alexa, provide me with a coherent timeline of events of the Day of Resurrection, which accurately resolves all of the reports recounted in the gospels, Acts and the Pauline epistles."

      "Alexa?"

      "Alexa?"

      I think she's blown a gasket.

    5. macjules Silver badge

      Re: So we're back to worship...

      Wonder what happens when you say "Alexa, ask the Church of England about Jeremy Dowling"

  2. Spacedinvader
    Happy

    "The church also intends to offer the function on Google Pray."

    FTFY

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      I initially misread the original as Google Pay. Internet of Indulgences?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "I initially misread the original as Google Pay."

        According to the BBC article.

        "In March the Church announced it was to begin taking contactless payments for services such as weddings and christenings at more than over 16,000 churches - a move it said should appeal to young people who often did not carry cash."

        Sounds like passing the begging bowl round people obliged by social convention to attend "hatched" and "matched" services. Seems like they are leaving "dispatched" for later.

        1. DiViDeD Silver badge

          MORE than OVER 16,000 churches, eh?

          That's rather a lot of churches.

          I would imagine.

    2. Warm Braw Silver badge

      And presumably it should also be the Apple HomeGod...

      Incidentally, good luck with the Google version - your most likely responses are going to be "I don't understand 'God'", "God is not available in your area right now" or "You need to configure a default God provider".

      1. onefang Silver badge

        Incidentally, good luck with the Google version - your most likely responses are going to be "I don't understand 'God'", "God is not available in your area right now" or "You need to configure a default God provider".

        "The Google Omniscience Department will get back to you shortly."

  3. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    The function will also help users answer the big questions

    I expect the answer to be 42.

    1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

      42

      Sorry, that's a different cult.

      1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Re: 42

        A really odd cult, whose main tenant is ignoring the fact that HHGTTG is awful.

        1. wolfetone Silver badge

          Re: 42

          "whose main tenant is ignoring the fact that HHGTTG is awful."

          BLASPHEMY!!!!! STONE THE HERETIC!!!!

          1. Evil Scot

            Re: 42

            Okay, who though that...

            There's always one isn't there.

          2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: 42

            NO ONE IS TO THROW ANY STONES

            until I blow this whistle.

            1. wolfetone Silver badge
              Coat

              Re: 42

              "NO ONE IS TO THROW ANY STONES

              until I blow this whistle."

              Are there any women here?

              1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

                Re: 42

                @wolfetone, don't worry, we are all without sin.

          3. BitCoward

            Re: 42

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yI2oS2hoL0k

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 42

          The cult has a tenant - is he paying rent? Or did you mean tenet?

        3. smudge Silver badge
          Alien

          Re: 42

          A really odd cult, whose main tenant is ignoring the fact that HHGTTG is awful.

          You are Marvin, and I claim my five ningis.

          1. Teiwaz Silver badge

            Re: 42

            A really odd cult, whose main tenant is ignoring the fact that HHGTTG is awful.

            You are Marvin, and I claim my five ningis.

            I hope you have some spare subspace to store the five mile long triangular rubber coins then.

            Should have asked for eight ningis, then you'd have one pu.

        4. scrubber

          Re: 42

          "HHGTTG is awful"

          Leave him to his Vogon poetry.

          1. NinjaArchitect

            Re: 42

            It think in this case we are looking at the Electric Monk from Dirk Gently

            1. Anonymaus Cowark

              Re: 42

              electric monkey had been my first thought as well

  4. Christoph Silver badge

    Alexa, is there a God?

    Yes, now there is a God

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Angel

      "Alexa, is there a God?

      "Yes, now there is a God"

      Siri: "Ahem..."

      1. onefang Silver badge

        Re: "Alexa, is there a God?

        If I remember correctly, there was a very very short story by Isaac Asimov with that plot.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Alexa, is there a God?

          Asimov story

        2. DiViDeD Silver badge

          Re: "Alexa, is there a God?

          "If I remember correctly, there was a very very short story by Isaac Asimov with that plot."

          That would be 'Answer' by Frederic Brown, the undisputed king of the vignette.

          Also rightly famous for his shortest SF/Horror story in the world:

          "The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock at the door..."

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Alexa, is there a God?

        "Siri: "Ahem..."

        They need a few miracles attributing to their powers before they will gain their major deity status. Any bets on the first case that makes the claim? A cure for cancer; the blind seeing; the lame walking; the dead resurrected; winning a lottery?

        I gave my neighbour some left-over Halloween sweets for her kids. Her religion prevented her kids from doing "Trick or Treat". She said that day she had had to make a choice between milk or sweets. So she said that her god had answered her prayers for sweets for the kids. She believes that her god makes my garden bloom with flowers.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Alexa, is there a God?

          She believes that her god makes my garden bloom with flowers.

          I wish He'd come round & do some weeding in mine, then.

        2. onefang Silver badge

          Re: "Alexa, is there a God?

          "A cure for cancer; the blind seeing; the lame walking; the dead resurrected; winning a lottery?"

          We already got bionic ears, eyes, and limbs, and people winning lotteries happens all the time. Recently actors have been acting in movies after they die, and see my previous post in another thread about Micheal Jackson touring Australia after his death. I guess that leaves curing cancer?

        3. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Re: "Alexa, is there a God?

          She believes that her god makes my garden bloom with flowers.

          Many years and jobs ago one of our junior programmers was a born again Christian, but management had to tell him to tone it down a bit because everyone round him got sick of him thanking God by praying out loud every time his code compiled. He wasn't that bad a programmer.

          1. Teiwaz Silver badge

            Re: "Alexa, is there a God?

            him thanking God by praying out loud every time his code compiled.

            Almost but not quite, I've often been presented with code and thought 'it's a miracle this compiled at all'.

            Most programmers do their praying while compilation is in progress though, not after. After, all bets off, all promised forgotten and it's off to the pub to indulge in some sin*

            * Or at least as close as degrees of afflicted nerdy-types can come to their interpretation of sin*

            * gotos instead of procedures, or procedures instead of functions (presumably). & beer/ale

        4. hplasm Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: "Alexa, is there a God?

          "She said that day she had had to make a choice between milk or sweets."

          Sounds like she needs to look at her choice of god...

      3. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        Re: "Alexa, is there a God?

        So we have an updated version of using water to turn prayer wheels. Re Siri, Alexa et al, remember that you should not cross the streams.

  5. Haku

    So one invisible friend will now talk to another invisible friend?

    Makes total sense.

  6. SVV Silver badge

    Somewhat baffling

    It's not surprising that they're already comfortable asking a pretend sentient entity to solve their problems for them, but why they now need to ask a small plastic device for help instead of going directly to the biig numero uno surely raises serious theological questions?

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: Somewhat baffling

      "...surely raises serious theological questions?"

      Like does God work in binary or trinary?

      1. Steve K Silver badge

        Re: Somewhat baffling

        Qubits obviously - mysterious ways and all that...

      2. Arthur the cat Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Somewhat baffling

        Like does God work in binary or trinary?

        As the Blessed Knuth said(*), in some ways the most efficient base for a computer would be e, which would mean even computers would work in a mysterious way(**).

        (*) Somewhere in TAoCP IIRC.

        (**) Although floating point would automatically be supported by the architecture.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Somewhat baffling

          "Although floating point would automatically be supported by the architecture."

          Will it have infinite precision?

    2. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: Somewhat baffling

      I only discovered this week that my Fire HD8 now had Alexa switched on in a recent update. The way I found out was when I held down the home for too long when distracted by something else. As it was in a dark room and quite late at night I almost leapt out of my skin. However I was reassured by the voice message that the bloody thing couldn't connect to amazon (I have a no root firewall taking care of that). Even if it could connect I physically disabled the built in microphone when I got the tablet, so good luck understanding what I'm saying. I turned on parental controls after that to disable Alexa from coming back.

    3. hplasm Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Somewhat baffling

      That would be an ecumenical question...

  7. Blockchain commentard Silver badge

    Won't appear on Apple Home since the Apple God refuses to allow anything but unconditional, exclusive worshipping and the slightest deviation means you'll be cast in the Windows of Hell !!!

  8. Elmer Phud Silver badge

    Oh great

    You give them access to your media library and religion -

    Alexa, are you the Messiah

    "Of course she is, I should know I've followed enough"

    Though

    "yes, now fuck off" would be preferable.

    1. Swarthy Silver badge

      Re: Oh great

      No! Just a very naughty computer.

  9. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Buddhists had it first

    Prayer wheels/flags...and they used only environmentally sensitive human and wind power.

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Buddhists had it first

      Exactly. If you RTFA you'll see that there is no praying to Alexa involved. Alexa can be asked to recite prayers FOR you. Which is just the high-tech version of the prayer-wheel. Particularly if you can get Alexa to loop.

      Rather takes the fun out of 20 Hail Marys and 10 Our Fathers, though. Bit like an automatic line-writing machine. Was it Molesworth who invented one?

  10. LDS Silver badge

    I'm sure it will end like in...

    ... Asimov's "The Last Question".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm sure it will end like in...

      That is a nice story to read here. Thought I had read all Asimov's stories many years ago - but don't remember that one.

    2. onefang Silver badge

      Re: I'm sure it will end like in...

      That's the story I mean, thanks for naming it.

      Edit, OK having read through the link AC posted, not the same story I was thinking of. I've read that one before as well. The one I'm thinking of as waaay shorter.

  11. harmjschoonhoven

    whois God

    No whois server is known for this kind of object.

  12. hatti

    'Alexa, ask God to deliver me a Pizza'

    1. A K Stiles
      Joke

      Pizza

      Ask the Buddhists - they'll make you one with everything!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pizza

        "[...] they'll make you one with everything!"

        But no "animal" higher than an oyster or clam. That's the point at which they drawn the line of "sentient". Fried oysters and clams seemed to be a speciality of the monastery restaurant in Macau.

  13. Steve K Silver badge

    Electric Monk?

    Is this the emergence of the Electric Monk?

    Look out for hoof prints on the stairs...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Electric Monk?

      "Look out for hoof prints on the stairs..."

      I thought it was a sofa?

      1. Steve K Silver badge

        Re: Electric Monk?

        The Sofa was indeed stuck on Dirk's stairs.

        The horse was in Professor Chronotis' bathroom at Oxford university and I believe it was coaxed/pushed down the stairs by the Electric Monk.

  14. tentimes

    There has to be a joke here somewhere....

    Surely?

  15. Teiwaz Silver badge

    THX 1138 Confession Booths?

    'You are a true believer, blessings of the state, blessings of the masses. thou art a subject of the divine, created in the image of man by the masses for the masses.'

    'Be thankful you have an occupation to fulfil. Work hard, increase production, prevent accidents and be happy.'

    'Buy more, buy more now, and be happy'

    Well, it'll probably not fit my consumer.

  16. scrubber

    God already has a twitter account

    @TheTweetOfGod

  17. 27escape
    Mushroom

    How long before...

    "The Nine Billion Names of God" are read out?

    1. onefang Silver badge

      Re: How long before...

      Two nanoseconds, three tops.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have a Dilbert motif T-shirt that appears to be a condensation of this strip.

    "What if GOD is the consciousness that is created when enough of us are connected to the INTERNET"

    Dilbert "That would certainly limit the types of files I download"

    Dogbert "My web browser would fly!"

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Makes sense....

    no need to go to church....

    As per Bottom.

    Richie : I don't think that, as a Christian, I could look myself in the face whilst watching a dirty video. I mean, it's Sunday for Christ's sake, I mean for Heaven's, I mean for goodness sake. And are the masses all in church praising the Lord's name? No, they're all down the vid shop, trying to get their hands on "Pervy Nights in Bangkok"! I mean, it's ironic, isn't it? There's plenty of wailing and gnashing of teeth going on, but it's not happening in church!

    Eddie : Well, when did you last go to church?

    Richie : Well, I don't have to go, I'm Church of England.

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: Makes sense....

      Eddie: Hang on!

      Rich: What?

      Eddie: Although we and the BBC respect people's rights to believe in whatever they wish - because we don't want to get into the shit on this one - we don't actually believe in God, do we?

      Rich: No.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Makes sense....

        "[...] the BBC respect people's rights to believe in whatever they wish [...]"

        BBC Radio 4 has too much religion in its schedules: "Prayer for the Day"; "Thought for the Day"; "Something Understood"; "Bells on Sunday"; "Sunday"; "Sunday Worship"; "Beyond Belief".

        At least BBC TV no longer closes down for an hour at 6pm so that people will go to Evensong. Nor do they end the evening's broadcast with a cleric delivering "The Epilogue".

        1. David Nash Silver badge

          Re: Makes sense....

          Even R2 brings godish people on weekend mornings. I don't see why they can't leave people to believe their own thing without getting all preachy from time to time.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Makes sense....

            "Even R2 brings godish people on weekend mornings."

            Yes but in balance, they have pagan crap by the likes of Astrologists on in the afternoon

            1. Teiwaz Silver badge

              Re: Makes sense....

              Yes but in balance, they have pagan crap by the likes of Astrologists on in the afternoon

              Hmm, Daily paper 'Sun sign' garbage is like being able to do macros on word and calling yourself a programmer.

              Also not exclusively or particularly 'pagan' by neither the old roman or the modern interpretation.

        2. Teiwaz Silver badge

          Re: Makes sense....

          At least BBC TV no longer closes down for an hour at 6pm so that people will go to Evensong. Nor do they end the evening's broadcast with a cleric delivering "The Epilogue".

          The Angelus on RTE used to creep me out as a kid. They're still doing it, I'm surprised to learn.

          ...mind you, I think for a while I thought the Anglia TV logo was the English version.

          I'd have 'voted' for the 'Venice is Sinking' (by Rondo Veneziano, I found out, decades later) that used to be broadcast occasionally (due to a gap in the schedule, but you don't know about these things as a wee nipper).

        3. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Re: Makes sense....

          BBC Radio 4 has too much religion in its schedules: …

          "Something Understood"

          Not so much religion, more aimless "spiritual" wittering that makes Thought for the Day seem like incisive theological philosophy.

          "Bells on Sunday"

          They may do it in church, but in my experience your average bell ringer is rarely described as "godly".

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Makes sense....

            "They may do it in church, but in my experience your average bell ringer is rarely described as "godly"."

            IIRC there have been several occasions where the long-standing bell ringers were "locked out" by a cleric.

            York Minister a couple of years ago sacked all their bell ringers - then attempted to replace them with presumably more spiritually*** motivated people.

            "It says the Minster is looking for bell ringers who can demonstrate ‘support and respect for chapter, particularly in inviting chapter to fulfil its mission of helping everyone to discover God’s love."

            ***beer wasn't mentioned

          2. onefang Silver badge

            Re: Makes sense....

            'They may do it in church, but in my experience your average bell ringer is rarely described as "godly".'

            I used to play handbells, got a lot of gigs playing in churches. Being an atheist, I'd probably not be described as "godly" either.

            Though technically I am a god, of the OpenSim world I run, coz that's the technical term for the admins. A term invented by Second Life, and inherited by OpenSim, coz they use the same viewers, and that's the term the viewer software uses. I guess it fits, I can wander around the virtual world, and if something needs fixing, some one "prays" to me, I "put on my halo", wave my arms, and it magically gets fixed. Or in other words, I request admin access from the server, which gives it to me, the viewer says "Entering god mode", and adds an Admin menu, with an option to bring up the "God Tools" window. shrugs

  20. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

    A question for true believers

    If Alexa is doing the praying while you sit listening or watching TV, which of you is most likely to be saved?

    Hint: It ain't you. You aren't even number two.

    - tip of the hat to FZ

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: A question for true believers

      If Alexa is doing the praying while you sit listening or watching TV, which of you is most likely to be saved?

      To be 'saved' - Press Ctrl-S - I thought everyone knew that. *

      Like Fish on Friday, it used to be F10 for the lost DOS generations.

  21. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Facepalm

    locked into the CoE ecosystem

    So, they're not really trying to attract new converts or lapsed members then?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: locked into the CoE ecosystem

      "So, they're not really trying to attract new converts or lapsed members then?"

      The Economist believes that is their target audience.

      "Most of the 28 questions programmed into it are aimed at non-believers, who nowadays make up more than half of British adults. Curious agnostics can quiz Alexa on how to pray, what Christians believe and who the Archbishop of Canterbury is. The aim is to use new technology to “bring people into a relationship with God”, says Adrian Harris, head of digital matters at the church. "

  22. onefang Silver badge
    Coat

    So if you can get computers to do your praying for you now, can they do it really really fast? A new unit of measurement for El Reg, Mega Prayers per second.

    And at those sorts of speeds, will the effectiveness of these prayers increase? I'm no theist, so no idea really. Any one care to donate some time on a super computer for a little experiment? We may be able to prove the existence of God if after running this little experiment, a loud voice is heard coming from The Cloud - "AAARRRGGH, shut up already!".

    I'll get my coat, it's the one with the micro dog collars.

  23. jms222

    Animal sacrifices

    Don't certain dickless religious types get animals slaughtered by phone especially around Hajj time so they can feel better about themselves ?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Animal sacrifices

      They ring up abattoirs?

  24. onefang Silver badge

    OK, wasn't Asimov after all - http://www.roma1.infn.it/~anzel/answer.html is the story I meant.

    Been way too long since I read any Asimov.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Shades of that film of a supercomputer housed in a supposedly impenetrable bunker.

      I preferred the Asimov story. Its denouement was at the same time unexpected - and yet blindingly obvious.

  25. Jonathon Green
    Go

    The Oh God of IT issues...

    ...delivering salvation as a service from the cloud :-)

    1. Jay Lenovo Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: The Oh God of IT issues...

      Now if I could just get 'mah' TV Preacher on Netflix.

      I could tithe $7.99-13.99 for some Ultra HD salvation.

      God wants me to watch him on all my devices.

      Better yet, with that GDPR thing, there's certain things he's gonna have to forget I done.

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: The Oh God of IT issues...

        Preacher is an Amazon Prime exclusive.

  26. Florida1920 Silver badge

    Feeding the need

    Somewhere on U.S. Highway 90, in panhandle Florida or Alabama, I saw a roadside sign with an arrow pointing up a driveway, offering "Drive Thru Prayer." As long as there are god-bothering believers, there will be charlatans ready to feed their fear and addiction.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Feeding the need

      "there will be charlatans ready to feed their fear and addiction.

      Don't forget the material wealth that many of the preachers promise to their followers. Basically a First World version of cargo cults.

      1. Florida1920 Silver badge

        Re: Feeding the need

        Don't forget the material wealth that many of the preachers promise to their followers. Basically a First World version of cargo cults.

        In the SW U.S., where I am at the moment, there are TV commercials for "Peter Popoff" (you can't make this stuff up). He offers to send you a container of spiritual water that guarantees you great financial gain. Doing some research (what, me, cynical?), you'll discover you're supposed to sprinkle the water on a check and mail it to PP. In return, great financial wealth will come your way. The TV commercial features totally believable testimonials from people who allegedly followed instructions.

        These charlatans aren't proof that religion is always a scam. But if I were $deity, I wouldn't wait until Judgement Day to wipe out the competition. So my message to them is, "The fact that you still exist is proof that what you claim to represent does not exist."

  27. Serg

    I don't believe it...

    We're on the second page already, and no one has mentioned that you wouldn't be able to have the CoE and the Church of Job... Er, Church of Cook on the same device, it's theoret..sorry, theologically impossible.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't believe it...

      " it's theoret..sorry, theologically impossible."

      Before Constantine saw the social control possibilities of Mithrasmono-theistic Christianity - the Roman Empire did a mix&match of gods from anywhere in their reach. Whatever you believed was ok - as long as it didn't appear to challenge the Emperor and the State.

      Even major Christian sects have effectively often broken the commandment against idolatory. In Africa the Abrahamic god of the various colonialists was added to their extensive list of local gods. The more you acknowledged, the better your chances of a lucky break in life.

  28. Darkness93

    I read "God of War" first and got excited :/

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Presumably Alexa will also act as a confessional to shrive your sins - if you have that compulsion. That will be an interesting addition to their store of your personal data.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      "Presumably Alexa will also act as a confessional"

      Hello ****** based on your recent confessions Amazon would like to offer you the following suggestions for puchase...............

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An Act of God?

    https://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2018/05/24/alexa_recording_couple/

  31. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    God might not be listening all the time,...

    ... but Alexa appears to be, so maybe some prayers will be answered?

    If they are prayers for Dash delivery of toilet roll, weather reports, or pizza.

  32. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Alexa: Get Jesus on the Mainline

    The live version with David Lindley of course...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGKENjR5sIU

    Ah, that's better...

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