The iConfessional: Offering Peace To The Internet-Savvy Sinner
Posted by Shawn L on March 14, 2008
Sites where readers can share all of their dirty little secrets in sweet, sweet anonymity have long been a staple of the Internet. While blogs like Postsecret have turned such catharsis into an art form, these sites, more commonly, are places for folks simply to swap stories, brag a bit, and spill their guts. Common admissions range from the serious (“I cheated on my girlfriend” or “I did meth today for the first time in month”) to the scatological (“I was the guy who stunk up the bathroom at work today”).
Recently, these sites have given birth to a new, and odd, phenomenon: the iConfessional. Think of it as Deus ex blog . . . iConfessionals (or “Confession 2.0“) are identical to their progenitors in all but one very important respect: they are maintained by Christian churches for the express purpose of fulfilling the Bible’s requirement that we “confess our sins.” The purpose of these sites is not pure entertainment, but absolution; as one site phrases its mission, “Get real, come clean, and begin the journey toward healing.”
I have to say that, for all of their sincerity, the idea of using and viewing these sites is a bit creepy. To begin, you can browse iConfessionals by the type of sin that interests you. “Porn,” “sex,” “cutting” and “eating disorders” — they’re all there, with dozens more for your sin-shopping pleasure.
Furthermore, in a traditional confessional environment, the penitent can expect a mixture of rebuke and forgiveness from the ecclesiastical leader (for us, our Bishop or Stake President). At the iConfessional, however, posters are thrown to the mercy of the faceless commenters. Anyone who has spent any time whatsoever in cyberspace knows that this is a motley crew (not you, of course, dear reader). The whole idea of “commenting” on another person’s confession is odd to begin with. But beyond that, while your confession may be met with a “we’re praying for you,” it is more likely to garner a response like this one: “obviously You are not in touch with reality if you think this is funny. When u truly grow up please submit a piece on how u wrote this to get attention from someone. Maybe one day u will be mature and not waste other’s time with lie” (atrocious grammar and spelling in original).
Finally, and worst of all, you can add these sites to your RSS feed, meaning each new confession lands directly in your e-mail inbox. Imagine checking your e-mail each morning to find dozens of protestations of sins. I have to think that’s every Bishop’s nightmare!
On the other hand, the iConfessional definitely has its advantages, For example:
I don’t need to wear a tie;
No matter how painful and drawn-out my confession may be, I can keep another browser window open so I won’t miss a minute of March Madness; and
If I find the experience to be a bit wearing, I can take a quick snack break in mid-confession. Just try stepping out for a Big Mac next time your in the Bishop’s office and see how he reacts.
So, next time you’re feeling guilty about skipping Church on Sunday or spending too much time here at Burning Bosom, I say give the Executive Secretary the night off and head on to an iConfessional to cleanse yourself. If that doesn’t work out, you can probably find an indulgence on the cheap at eBay.