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Chan Lowe: The Confession App


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When my grandmother hit her mid-nineties, it became too much of a hardship for her to hoof it the three blocks to the Polish church every Sunday. Instead, the priest came to her house once a month with his little bag to hear her confession and administer the Holy Eucharist.

There in her living room, beneath the hand-tinted photograph of the man she knew as Jan Pawel II⎯who occupied the second position in her pantheon of heroes just beneath Liberace⎯she made her confession in Polish, presumably because God would think she was trying to fudge it if she did it in her limited English.

It didn’t take long. She once said to me, “I old lady, ninety-six years old. What’s left to confess?”

Still, she did it regularly. It was important to her, and I’ve never seen a lady more at peace with her life and her maker than Nana.

It was with skepticism, therefore, that I read the story about the new iPhone “Confession App.” Since we now rely on technology for just about everything else, it seemed only a matter of time before we employed our smart phones to manage the data stream between us remote users and the Great Mainframe Designer in the sky.

Certain members of the clergy have endorsed the app, albeit cautiously, indicating that if it helps put young people in better touch with their spiritual identities, then it has some redeeming value. They stress that it is really a way to aid self-examination and introspection.

In a world full of secular distractions, this may be a clever form of spiritual jiujitsu, using the very power of technology to cut through the clutter it helps to create.

Or maybe it’s just silly, which is what I confess I thought when I first heard of it.

Like any of man’s artifices, its value lies in how intelligently it is used.

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Comments

Spiritual jiu-jitsu is an apt way of putting it. Martin Marty, a Lutheran theologian, said the same about fundamentalists getting into broadcasting a generation ago. He likened it to jiu-jitsu in using culture against itself. However, he predicted that it would end with fundamentalists being changed more than they changed society. Catholics should take warning.


WHY WOULD A TRUE BELIEVER NOT BY-PASS THE PHONE APPS AND CONFESS TO THE GRAND POOBAH ON THE CLOUDS DIRECT? THAT WAY YOU GET NO DROPPED CALLS AND THE VOICE BACK DIRECT FROM THE SOURCE. NO NEED TO PAY FOR MORTALS OR THEIR EQUIPMENT TO MAKE YOUR CONNECTION. JUST SWAB OUT YOUR EARS.


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About the author
Chan LoweCHAN LOWE has been the Sun Sentinel’s first and only editorial cartoonist for the past twenty-six years. Before that, he worked as cartoonist and writer for the Oklahoma City Times and the Shawnee (OK) News-Star.

Chan went to school in New York City, Los Angeles, and the U.K., and graduated from Williams College in 1975 with a degree in Art History. He also spent a year at Stanford University as a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow.

His work has won numerous awards, including the Green Eyeshade Award and the National Press Foundation Berryman Award. He has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His cartoons have won multiple first-place awards in all of the Florida state journalism contests, and The Lowe-Down blog, which he began in 2008, has won writing awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.
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