It seems everybody is talking about that confession app we mentioned here last month (Confession: There's an app for that). It even made the local news last night, somewhere between a story on a fire and the weather report. So I thought I'd give you an update on what some columnists and bloggers have to say about this app and whether it might help you.
Mike Hayes over at Googling God bought the app and gives the Examination of Conscience a spin.
From Mike's post:
Here’s my review by going through the app step by step. To start this is supposed to be an app to help people go to confession–something you can bring into the confessional with you. Believe it or not. Now that’s not a completely bad idea. The app asks for a Name, Sex, Birthday, Vocation (e.g. married, priesthood, etc), Date of last confession and a password.
Then it takes you through a “Custom Examination of Conscience.” I played around with this creating several different usernames and found that if there’s a child they only list two things to examine: “Responsibilities to God” and “Responsibilities to Others”. I find it interesting that they think that not praying daily is a sin. And Not asking the Holy Spirit to help you when temptation comes is also a sin. (I personally ask Mary for help during those times, so I guess I have to check that one off). On the responsibilities to others they list “Not being helpful and affectionate to my family” as a sin. Um, I know lots of well behaved children that aren’t all that affectionate towards most people. Sinners! All y’all!
If you head to Mike's post HERE, you can see the specifics about how the app walks you through the Ten Commandments to check for sins.
Here's Mike's overall assessment:
All in all, it’s a app that I think is fair for those who haven’t been to confession in some time. But I fear that people might use it as a way to just go through the motions of a checklist without thinking about their past month or so (or longer) since their last confession. I also think it might lead many to scrupulosity. Thinking that we can never be any good. “There it is in black and white–I’m horrible.”
It also seems very heavy handed and while I’m the guy who always claims that the internet isn’t as impersonal as most think, I found this experience left me quite cold and didn’t thrust me into deep contemplation about my sinfulness but rather, just kept me checking off boxes.
Somewhere in this app there needs to be a more encouraging tone. Especially for those who haven’t been to confession in ages. If someone saw a large list of sins without a bit of encouragement and welcoming language I doubt that this app would be enough to get them to come back to the sacrament.
Lastly, how many people will abuse this? And just use the app to provide a vertical experience of the sacrament (between them and God) but not a horizontal one (reconciling with the community through the church’s representative).
So overall, I would rate this 2 out of 5 and certainly not worth paying the money for. Wait for another version that’s free and in the meantime you can use Fr Dave and I’s You Tube video and our How to Go To Confession PDF
In today's New York Times, columnist Maureen Dowd gives her own take on this new app, which has an imprimatur.
From Dowd's column:
Nothing is sacred anymore, even the sacred. And even that most secret ritual of the Roman Catholic faith, the veiled black confessional box.
Once funeral homes began live-streaming funerals, it was probably inevitable. But now confessions are not only about touching the soul, but touching the screen.
With the help of two priests, three young Catholic men from South Bend, Ind., have developed an iPhone app to guide Catholics through — and if they are lapsed, back to — confession.
It shot to global success, ranking No. 42 on the best-selling app list, according to iTunes.
Dowd also puts the Examination of Conscience to the test, signing herself into the program with different ages, backgrounds in order to see what it serves up. Here's some of what she found:
Children are asked if they pout or use bad language. Teenagers are asked if they are a tattletale or bully. Women are asked if they’ve had an abortion or encouraged anyone to have an abortion and if they’re chaste. Men are asked about the latter two, as well.
The app also tailors the questions if you sign in as a priest or a “religious.” For instance, if you say you’re a female and try to select “priest” as your vocation, a dialogue box appears that says “sex and vocation are incompatible.” So much for modernity.
Under the Sixth Commandment, men and women are asked: “Have I been guilty of any homosexual activity?” Priests, however, are not. They are asked if they flirt.
So what do you think of this modern-day cheat sheet for confession? Have you downloaded the app yet? If so, give us your take. And when did pouting become a sin? App or no app, I could be in trouble.