Yesterday I followed a Twitter link to a survey about the rosary. It began normally enough (age, gender) and then started asking whether I’d ever used a rosary aide.
The only “rosary aides” I own are rosaries (about eleven or twelve million at last count) and one audio rosary I got free in the back of the church (well, free with a three dollar donation, but I can’t wrap my head around that so I try to think of the donation as an entirely separate action from the receipt of the CD.)
The CD is a recording of six people in a room saying the rosary, and its purpose is so I don’t drive into a tree while fumbling with beads and contemplating the Scourging At The Pillar.
The first batch of heavy-duty questions asked whether I’d ever used an audio rosary with music and meditations. Um, no, sorry. I have books of meditations if I want them, and I also have this thing called a brain, which is full of meditations of its own and is sometimes receptive to ideas God wants to give me. Sometimes. Occasionally. Well, even a stone warms up if you sit on it for five years.
Regardless, I have something called “limited time” which means a 20-minute prayer should not take 45 minutes, or else I’d never do it and then my guardian angel would be forced to wake me up in the middle of the night again to make me finish. This isn’t good for my spiritual development for several reasons, the primary one that I’m not a nice person, even less so when someone wakes me up in the middle of the night for anything other than “I’m only two months old and I’m starving to death.” We’re supposed to respect angels as higher-order beings, and “So finish it yourself if it’s that important” isn’t exactly respectful.
We reached the survey’s true agenda: how much would you pay for a smartphone app that would assist your rosary-prayers? This even after I’d noted that a) I don’t own a smartphone and therefore b) I’d never purchased any apps for the smartphone I don’t own and c) No, I probably won’t be spending more than ten dollars apiece on the apps I’m not going to purchase for the smartphone I don’t own.
Penultimate question: If you believed an app would forward your spiritual life and bring you closer to God, how much would you pay for it?
I answered $5.
Final question, and I’m not making this up (although I’m paraphrasing because the question itself was about 300 words long): Some people think if they under-report their spending on these surveys, the products will be priced lower. So please be honest: if you really, honestly, truly believed that an app would bring you closer to Heaven and impact your eternal soul’s eternal destination and more closely unite your soul to God’s vision for your life, how much would you spend on it?
Once again, I answered $5.
That’s when I realized just how cynical I’d become. Because I know there’s nothing more valuable than growing closer to God. For one young man, the cost was selling everything he had and giving it away. And here I’m saying I’d spend about as much as I pay in library fines.
I’ve been exposed to so much advertising and experienced so many false promises about products, that even in theory, I couldn’t imagine this product actually delivering.
The more insignificant the product, the more outlandish the claims. So this lipstick will turn you into Miss America, and that diet snack bar will burn calories and lengthen your life by ten years. I’m more likely to trust a McDonalds ad saying “This food will taste okay and stop you from feeling hungry for three hours” than “Enjoy our juciest burger yet — two pounds of pure angus heaven!”
So if you claim your app is going to bring me closer to God, I’m going to react as if you told me your shoes will improve my marriage. The minute you say your app will advance my spiritual development and help unite my soul to the Almighty Triune God, my innate cynicism kicks in: “Yeah, your app is worth about five bucks.” Because even in fantasyland, I can’t imagine a product doing what it’s supposed to.
And that’s beside the point that really, an app can’t do that. Prayer and grace? Sure. But an app? A freaking app…? Oops, my cynicism is showing again.
Anyhow, thank you Advertisers for saving me a ton of money. If anyone needs me or my spare change, I’ll be the one with the string of beads.