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The Russian Orthodox Church, Smartphones, and the Rise of the Antichrist
Look, I get it. New media or technologies and the social changes they bring about are always frightening to traditionalists. When the telephone became popular, many people feared that phone lines were conduits for nefarious spirits or that it would lead to societal downfall by allowing women to gossip themselves to death. True story. Some ancient Greek philosophers, Plato in particular, feared that written language would “produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it” and “discourage the use of their own memory within them.” Change is scary.
The latest in technological fear mongering comes from Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, who warns that smartphones are paving the way for the rise of the Antichrist. While presumably wearing untold fortunes’ worth of jewelry and ceremonial gilded clothing including one of those giant gem-encrusted hats, Patriarch Kirill went on Russian state TV on Monday for an interview timed with Russian Orthodox Christmas. During the interview, Patriarch Kirill first made some rather commonplace remarks, warning against allowing so much data to be in the hands of tech firms or government agencies:
Every time you use your gadget, whether you like it or not, whether you turn on your location or not, somebody can find out exactly where you are, exactly what your interests are and exactly what you are scared of. If not today, then tomorrow methods and technology could appear that will not just provide access to all information but will also allow the use of this information. Do you imagine what power will be concentrated in the hands of those who gain knowledge about what is going on in the world?
Yikes. He’s not wrong, you know. Technology critics have been warning against data collection and centralization for years. Maybe Kirill is just reiterating these issues using the vocabulary available to him.
However, Patriarch Kirill took it a step further into the supernatural, going on to warn that our gadgets may soon lead to the very fall of mankind as we know it at the hands of demonic forces:
Such control from one place forebodes the coming of the Antichrist. The Antichrist is the person that will be at the head of the world wide web controlling all of humanity. That means that the structure itself poses a danger. There shouldn’t be a single centre, at least not in the foreseeable future, if we don’t want to bring on the apocalypse.
Whew. I knew this damned iPhone was bad for me, but I had no idea it would bring about a false prophet to lure humanity into a new era of hedonism and orgiastic debauchery. I mean, tech neck is bad enough, but conjuring the Man of Sin from his dimensional prison to fulfill ancient apocalyptic prophecies? Perhaps I’ll go back to my Newton personal digital assistant.
…wait, did you say orgiastic debauchery? Maybe this Antichrist fellow isn’t so bad after all. Say, Patriarch, how does the Antichrist feel about legalization? At the federal level, you say?
Maybe I’ll keep the iPhone. Sorry, Newton.