In the 16th century it was Johann Tetzel, a German Dominican preacher who caught the ire of Martin Luther by his shameless selling of indulgences. His famous sales pitch went something like this, “As soon as the coin into the box rings, a soul from purgatory to heaven springs.”
The elector of Saxony and Luther defender, Frederick the Wise, had banned Tetzel from Wittenberg. But, to Luther’s shock, his parishioners would travel to see Tetzel and return to inform Luther they would no longer need his services in the area of confession, penance and mass. They had already paid for their ticket to heaven, thank you very much.
Tetzel would be proud of a new Web site, Information Age Prayer, which is now selling daily prayers:
Information Age Prayer is a subscription service utilizing a computer with text-to-speech capability to incant your prayers each day. It gives you the satisfaction of knowing that your prayers will always be said even if you wake up late, or forget.
For a mere $3.95 per month (or a paltry $43.45 per year!) you can choose from prayers for Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and even those unaffiliated with any organized religion. Some prices vary, however, depending on the type and length of the prayer. Shorter prayers are cheaper and prayers for financial help are sold at a discount “for obvious reasons.” It’s nice to have a pay to pray Web service so concerned about subscriber’s financial health!
Unlike Tetzel, however, this service exists in a world of potential litigation. So for those wondering why they paid their money to pray for a new Ferrari and God reneged on the deal, you can’t blame Information Age Prayer because it comes with a handy disclaimer.
We make no claims regarding the efficacy of the service. Actual results will vary for each and every subscriber. Information Age Prayer is not a golden ticket to solve your problems and it is most definitely not a selling of indulgences. Information Age Prayer gives no guarantee that any effect the prayer has will be measurable by any means whatsoever. By using this web site you also agree to indemnify Information Age Prayer and its parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, directors, officers, consultants and employees and hold them harmless from any and all claims and expenses, including attorney’s fees arising from your use of this Service and Website and arising from the use of this Service by anyone else.
I’m not sure how much money the Information Age Prayer service has made or how many people would be stupid enough to pay for something they can hit their knees every day and do for free (heck, I do my best praying in the car – all for free!), but it seems to be a mark of today’s pay to play society. There’s no free lunch, not even with God, apparently.
As a final sop, the IAP Web owners promise, though, that they will send 10 percent of whatever they collect to charity. I don’t think Tetzel ever made such a generous guarantee.
Heaven help us. (That will be $3.95, please.)