Sometimes reality is stranger than fiction.

From The Mirror:

Robot ‘preacher’ can beam light from its hands and give automated blessings to worshippers

A robot ‘preacher’ that beams lights from its hands [I’ve gotta work on that one.] and can give automated blessings to the faithful has been launched in the town that gave fame to Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation.

Five hundred years after Luther published the Ninety-five Theses in Wittenberg, kicking off the Reformation, an evangelical church launched a unique automated blessing robot for the special celebrations in the historic town located in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt.

The robot on show in the old town of Wittenberg is called “BlessU-2” and was developed by the Evangelical Church in Hesse and Nassau.

It consists of a metal box with a touch screen, two arms on the side, a head with eyes and a digital mouth at the top.

After the robot wishes users a “warm welcome”, it asks them if they want to be blessed by a male or female voice.

It then asks the believer “what blessing do you want”, which results in the robot making a mechanical sound as it raises its arms to the heavens and starts to smile.

Lights then start to flash in the robot’s arms as it says “God bless and protect you” and recites a biblical verse.

After the blessing, the user has the possibility to print the dictum.

Church spokesman Sebastian von Gehren said: “It is an experiment that is supposed to inspire discussion.”

Von Gehren explained that they consciously decided against a typical human appearance.

He said that the reactions vary wildly. “One half thinks it’s great” while “the other cannot imagine a blessing from a machine.”


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Christ-Bearer says:

    Well, it has the same power to consecrate the Eucharist that a Lutheran minister has.

  2. Baritone says:

    I suppose this is a pretty accurate picture of what we are like if we “speak with the tongues of man and of angels and have not charity”. Scary.

  3. Kerry says:

    “I am Landrau. You are NOT of the body. You must die.”

  4. rodrigow says:

    I say we counter it with Catholic Daleks.

    “Con-VERT! Con-VERT!”

  5. Rob in Maine says:

    I like the Landru reference, however this reminds me of Bender and Robotology from Futurama.

  6. John Grammaticus says:

    Rodrigow I love that idea (indeed a Catholic military chaplain with WAY too much time on his hands recently made his own dalek), my only worry is that this might leave the cybermen (you will be converted), the sontarons (Papa. Papa, Papa) and the Master feeling a bit left out.

  7. billy15 says:

    Oh my…

    I thought this was satire and laughed. Like I thought this was from the Babylon Bee or something. Then I kept reading… and watching. It reminds me of a meme I just saw today on Catholic Memes. Methinks some Christians are trying too hard to be “cool”.

  8. bibi1003 says:

    Danger Will Robinson!!!

  9. jarthurcrank says:

    Seems like Friar Tetzel is owed an apology.

  10. iamlucky13 says:

    As Rob in Maine mentioned, Futurama had a robot preacher, but this reminds me more of the electronic confession booths (for confessing to the state) in George Lucas’s early film THX 1138.

    But really, it seems most like the sort of thing I’d expect to be intended either as random humor, or as a mockery.

  11. JonathanTX says:

    Isn’t this literally idolatry? Asking a man-made object for a spiritual benefit?

  12. Cafea Fruor says:

    And here I thought electric votive candles were ridiculous. This is more ridiculous BY FAR.

  13. Mario Bird says:

    Looks like someone in Deutschland took your “Liturgy Science Theater 3000” tag seriously, Fr. Can’t wait to see what our friends at Lutheran Satire do with this.

  14. They shall become like unto their empty gods; they have eyes, and see not; ears, and hear not; hands, and feel not …

  15. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    Them robots took our jobs. I hope you all have robot insurance for when the Lutheran robot ministers attack and steal your pills for fuel. People who say robots dont exist are likely robots themselves.

  16. Suudy says:

    There one advantage–consistent orthodoxy. Well, the orthodoxy of the heterodox programmer, anyway. No rogue ministers. No deviation from the text. And a robot priest would actually say the black and do the red, exactly as written. So at least those of us irritated by the priest that likes to give the homily before the readings and then in the “interest of brevity” skip the readings (yes, this really happened), would never again be so bothered.

    Tough choice. Strict, by the book, order of mass. Or an actual priest present. Who really believes that technology makes our lives easier? /sarcasm

  17. mike cliffson says:

    124C4U ?

  18. Aquinas Gal says:

    The next thing: a robot that takes you to heaven: “Beam me up, Scotty!”

  19. SundaySilence says:

    Klaatu barada nikto

  20. Cantor says:

    I can think of a few parishes where this would be a liturgical improvement.

  21. Andrew1025 says:

    Someone should hack in and have it start reading the entirety of the catechism.

  22. Greg Smisek says:

    I would suggest hacking it to recite continuously “On the Jews and their Lies” by the Great Reformer himself, were it not for the injustice against the Jews.

  23. Kathleen10 says:

    I notice he looks ticked off, as if he suddenly has to operate in a world where his vocation has been pulled out from under him and he must dodge nasty clerics who wish to flip off his switch if he remains faithful to that vocation.
    Bibi, Sunday Silence, we were assembled in the same era.

  24. Semper Gumby says:

    Kerry et al: excellent.

    Hopefully this contraption won’t turn into V’ger from Star Trek and start “assimilating” people.

  25. MichaelKavanagh says:

    Step right up folks! Bless-o-Matic is here for one night only! Just insert a quarter in the coin slot and save save save! Its Heresy in a can, with an all day whiff of simony!

    Hurry hurry hurry!

  26. PTK_70 says:

    The eyebrows make this amusement. Otherwise, it would be sacrilege, surely.

  27. loyeyoung says:

    Suspiciously reminiscent of the Church of Bacon, which is as orthodox as the Lutherans.

  28. Tristan says:

    The internet version has apparently existed for a while.

    From Fr Tim Finigan:

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