Rose French writes about religious and spiritual matters for the Star Tribune. Before arriving in the Twin Cities this fall, she covered religion for the Associated Press in Tennessee, where she wrote about the Southern Baptists, United Methodists, Gideons and other religious groups and issues.
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Ever wonder what it would be like to be a man or woman of God? Well, now’s your chance, thanks to a new iPhone app developed by Edina pastor and author Tony Jones.
Here’s an iTunes description of the new “app-tly” named “Ordain Thyself,” which launched last week:
“Do you want to be a minister, but you just don’t have the time for seminary? Or maybe your desire is to be a rabbi, imam, priest, or swami. Or a Klingon priest. Well, this app can’t actually ordain you, but it can show you what you would look like and believe if you were ordained in over two dozen religions.”
“Ordain Thyself brings simulated ordination right to your device, meaning that you can get the title, the vestments (that means costume), and the beliefs of dozens of religions, and share your (fake) ordination with your friends!”
In addition to writing religious books and serving as theologian-in-residence at Solomon’s Porch church in Minneapolis, Jones also assists in running “social media bootcamps” for religious leaders, which helps churches become savvier at using social media to get out their messages.
So how did Jones come up with the new app (which he says is meant to be entertaining and not taken too seriously)?
“The idea just came to me one day about two years ago. But I had no idea how to develop an app, so I banged around a bit, looking for the right partners,” Jones said in an e-mailed statement Tuesday.
“I finally found the perfect guys last fall — a developer in Des Moines (Tim Urness), a graphics guru here in Minneapolis (Gerardo Obieta), and a project manager who goes to church with me and helped me find those other two guys (Matt Glatzel).
“We all worked on it as a side project — it was something fun and a competency that we all wanted to learn. Developing a good app is a lot different than writing a book or even building a website.”
While some people have been a “bit perturbed” and turned off by the app, most have generally loved it, Jones said.
“Honestly, I think that religious leaders often take themselves too seriously. It’s time for us to lighten up, to laugh a bit at ourselves.”
“We’ve already had people send us pictures of themselves in the religious garb. They’ve also ‘ordained’ their babies and pets. One guy ‘ordained’ his coffee mug. Right now it’s just on the iPhone/iPad/iPod. We’re working on a version for the Droid now and hope to have it available by mid-summer.”