Sunday, 25 January 2009

On Happy Browsing

There are times when satire is superfluous, and many of them begin when the religious and the internet get too close. In terms of frequency, it is clear from a quick glance that the main culprits are the evangelicals (for sheer crappiness - I believe thse pages have previously mentioned the delightful and The Jesus TV) and the Roman Catholics (for volume of tack), but of course, no one is innocent - the Anglicans are always good for a news story and the Free Presbyterians have the advertising junk all sewn up and ready to wear. And if we may include looser definitions of religion, our friend Richard Dawkins has a website so dire that it could be a Christian conspiracy to make atheists look stupid.

With this in mind, the first item on our agenda today is the Vatican's new channel on YouTube (or as someone suggested, BlessYouTube). The closest thing we have had to this so far is GodTube, in itself a delightful demonstration of the fine line, so frequently crossed, between sense and insanity. It's not hard to see why the Vatican wishes to distance itself from this, quite frankly, but can Pope Benny improve on the online home of Christian self-demotion?

A quick glance at this new offering reveals that the current top video (or newest, or something - I don't really understand YouTube) is entitled 'Internet can promote the search for truth'. I hit play and listened for a few seconds before realising he was talking German. Then a few seconds more and realised that, no, it was English, but with an 'Allo 'Allo accent.

Anyway, two things struck me. First, should we be worried that the Pope is searching for truth? I always thought (and, not being Catholic, I freely admit I may be wrong - I'm certainly no stranger to the wrong end of the stick) that the Pope knew the truth. That that was kind of the whole point of the Pope. That he knew what was true and was here to share it with the rest of us. I'm a little concerned to discover that he's getting it all from Wikipedia. Or maybe he's talking about the rest of us, and the point is that the internet can promote our search for truth now that the Vatican is on YouTube.

Second, isn't truth more or less the antithesis of the internet? I thought the very purpose of the internet was to allow a worldwide platform for conspiracy theorists, wacky medical practicioners, the permanently confused, Richard Dawkins and the downright evil - those people, in short, who lurk in the dark corners of dodgy pubs and spend their evenings saying things like 'There never were any polar bears'. The internet allows them to go online and share their thoughts with the masses. There's an obvious pun to be had there, but let's move on instead.

Our second offering today is also from the Catholics. I do apologise to Catholic viewers for lumping them all together in this, but I think once you've heard what I'm about to say you'll understand; not content with Google, internet searching has been taken a step closer to cleanliness with the introduction of Cathoogle - 'The best way for good Catholics to search the web'.

It's hard to know where to start with this, but typing in 'sex' seemed to suggest itself (and let's face it, would you even dare consider that on Google?). The first result article (at time of writing) is entitled 'Catholic questions and answers about marriage and same-sex unions', which seems to set a certain 'tone' for the results page, but the second is entitled 'Catholic organiser charged in online sex sting', which I'm guessing is not so much the kind of thing they promote.

In any case, quite why Cathoogle is 'The best way for good Catholics to search the web' is not adequately explained, and we could probably construct a useful reflection from any of the words 'best', 'good' and 'Catholics' in that sentence.

With all of this in mind, I think it's time I got offline for the day.


Anonymous said...

a common misconception for those outside the faith:

hope this helps

whynotsmile said...

Thank you anonymous. Yes, I knew that about infallibility, it's more that I thought that when the Pope sought truth, he turned to God rather than Wikipedia.

Wandering Photographer said...

Well rather than use the search term "sex" as suggested, I decided to do a head-to-head with Google and Cathoogle on my name.

I can report that I am officially OK according to the Catholic church having maintained the top spot in the search results. Quite what this means in practical terms I am not sure, but I won't be holding my breath waiting for the Pope to contact me on matters of great importance!

Umm, of course it does call in to question the reliability of the search results! Do they KNOW who I am?!?!?!

Virtual Methodist said...

With yet another reference to Dicky Dawkins, I wondered whether you have seen the rap here

whynotsmile said...

WP, of course they know who you are. But do you know who THEY are?

VM, yes I had seen that - really quite splendid. Especially some of the comments.