Essays / Miscellaneous / Satiric

PATER NOSTER AND THE ALLEGORY OF THE PHONE – A METAPHYSICAL MUSING | by Ayo Sogunro

I was walking along my street on a Sunday morning when Plato joined me in my journey. He did this quite often and I was not surprised. Hi, I said, as I unplugged my earphones and hung the cords around my neck. The road was clear of traffic and the only signs of activity were the churchgoers who swarmed the street at every intersection.

We walked on silently until Plato, who had been studying the churchgoers with keen interest, pointed to a group waiting at a junction and asked: Who are these people and where do they hurry?

– They are Christians—a religious philosophy, I replied as we walked. Their philosophy surrounds the worship of one God. Today is their holy day. Those people you saw are journeying either to or from their places of worship. The magnificent building you saw at that turning is called a church, it is one of the places they worship.


– Do they not all worship in one place?

– No. There are many variations of their beliefs. Each variation proclaims itself to be the true philosophy and condemns the others as false. The Christians are incapable of all worshipping in one congregation. This is not a matter of size, but of principle. If such an event was arranged, arguments as to the procedure and practice of appointing their priests, the dressing of their congregation, the manner of offerings and tithes, the solemnity of the music, their attitude towards the sick and the poor, even their holy day and so many other theologies will arise and may lead to bloodshed.

Ah. They must be a riotous lot, Plato said. Is that the reason for the noise we heard in the building yonder?

– Not at all. That was the sound of prayer?.

– Prayer? Why does it have to be so violent?

– That wasn’t violence. That indicates the level of their intensity. When the Christians feel so strongly about a personal issue, they invariably turn to God. They communicate with God through prayers and plead, cajole, threaten, bluster, flatter and praise him in turns in an attempt to force his answers to their requests.


– Tell me more about their prayers.

– Christians are not the only religionists who have a concept of prayers. Muslims and Jews do so too, as well as some pagan philosophies. The Christians, however, are unique in being the most consistent at wielding it as a tool of their philosophy. They brandish it as a sword and hide under it as a shield. They are proud of this fact and they believe the greatest gift they can make to an individual is to pray for the person. They have prayers of adoration through which they flatter God, prayers of expiation through which they acknowledge a breach of their principles and beg forgiveness of God, prayers of supplication—the most widely used—by which they petition for their personal needs or intercede for others, and prayers of thanksgiving. They start their day with a prayer and end it with one. At the beginning of an event a prayer is in order, and a prayer rounds it off. In the middle of the night, their voice is raised in prayer; at the workplaces; school assemblies; political rallies; hospital visitations and every aspect of their lives is infused with a prayerful element. Prayers are an important element in the Christian worldview. It is possibly, the only single aspect of their diverse philosophies in which they are united.


– Has it occurred to them that they do not treat God with the respect he deserves? Do they not insult his intelligence and trouble him by their constant haranguing?

– How is that? I asked, puzzled. Their scriptures admonish them to pray without ceasing.


– Let me show you in figure the nature of these prayers. Take any manufactured device, for example, look at the device in your hand. What you refer to as a phone.

– I see it.

– It is a most splendid creation. It is beautiful. It functions well and can fulfill the purposes required of it. It was designed to make your existence comfortable and save you labour and time. Do you agree?

– Of course.

– The designer must have contemplated the purpose and form of the device mentally. He then sets his thoughts down on paper and expends immeasurable time structuring every aspect of the device to make it workable and useful. He considers potential problems and outlines how to solve them. He reflects on the environment in which the device would be utilized. If he is a careful designer, he designs it to match with every challenge that may arise in that environment. Is that right?

– Yes


– Satisfied with his ideas, he runs a test of the device. He notes the problems and makes adjustments where necessary. He ensures that the device is perfect and needs no further input from him. To prevent the user from accidental damage to the device, he provides an instruction book for the user. Having been satisfied, he then hands over the device to the buyer and proceeds to concern himself with other things.

-Definitely.

– Now, suppose a buyer gets his device—a phone. He admires the packaging and he reads the manual. He is so impressed with the beauty and intelligence of the design that he decides he cannot make use of the device without first consulting the maker. He then writes to the maker asking for help in using the device and explains to the maker that he will not switch on the device until he gets the maker’s consent. Do you suppose the maker will take him seriously?

– The buyer is obviously a joker.

– The buyer, however, takes himself seriously; the instruction manual has told him to write the maker if he has issues with the device. Will such a buyer not believe that the maker’s existence revolve around him? Will he not believe that he deserves every minute of the maker’s attention for every little detail regarding the device?

– He will. He will assume the maker is on standby to attend to him.


– So he writes the maker everyday and ignores the device. The device stays idle and cannot fulfil the purpose for which it was created. In the process of time, the buyer will surely complain aloud and blame the maker for giving him a useless device. He will envy and hate those who are able to make use of their devices; he will become dissatisfied and spread stories of the uselessness of the device and begin to look for another product.

-Quite possibly.

-On the other hand, he may resign to a life without the device, and assure himself that the device was not meant for him. He will admire others who are able to use their devices and comfort himself with the knowledge that the maker has the power to do and undo, to give and to take away, to make some happy and others miserable all for the maker’s own end.

– That again is a possibility.


– What do you think will happen if a third party shows up claiming to have a direct connection with the maker? What if to prove his point, the third party writes to the maker and that same day the third party is able to take the previously idle device and make it function?

– The buyer will obviously welcome him and praise him as an excellent fellow.

– Will the buyer not make any required payment to the third party to ensure an uninterrupted use of the device? Will he not call the third party a priest and a shepherd? Will he not utilize the device as the third party directs?

– The buyer certainly will attend to the needs and desires of his rescuer. He will not use the device without the third party’s go-ahead.

– Will the third party not assist the buyer in the gradual use of the device as long as the buyer believes that his requests to the maker will be answered only if he goes through the third party? Do you think the buyer will be convinced by anyone that the third party is a charlatan and that the letters to the maker are a sham?

– As long as he is able to use the device, he will not believe anyone who argues to the contrary. He will refer to his evidence and say: if this man is a charlatan, why then can I use my device? Why does it work for me?

– What if you point out others who do not go through third parties of the sort and who are having a happy time using their devices. Will he not say that they use the device at their peril and future destruction certainly awaits the device?

– Surely. He will only be too glad to point out the error of their ways.


– What do you think will be the reaction of the maker if he was to take note of these events? Will the maker not be extremely vexed? Will the maker not explain that the device was perfect and needed no further input from him or anyone else?

– The maker will be justified. However, Plato, what of accidents that the maker could not have foreseen? It should be okay for the maker to attend to the requests of the buyer in such situations. Will he not expect that defective devices should be returned back to him?

– That is correct. Now, if the maker was able to design the environment in which the device was to be used, will he not design a hospitable environment? Or will he design an environment that will prove damaging to the device? Will he provide an environment that will make the device unusable?

– Certainly, if manufacturers could control the environments of their products, they would use it to their advantage. Their products will be indestructible. He would have structured the environment to accommodate the device in every way.


– If he has designed a perfect product in an environment which cannot damage the device, will he expect daily requests from the users of the product asking for the help the device is expected to render?

– Definitely not.


– Will he not be surprised to see a volume of letter at his door asking for advice and help in using the device or in achieving the purposes the device was meant to fulfill? Would he not feel insulted and chagrined that the buyers of his product are ignorant and undeserving of the device?

– That is bound to happen.

– This allegory describes the nature of these Christians and their belief about prayer. They seem to be an undeserving lot who expend much time and energy seeking God’s attention instead of concentrating in utilizing the powerful brains he has given them. Their prayers are an insult to God. They have made him into an incompetent manufacturer. They do not stop to contemplate the inherent impossibility of an omnipotent God creating an imperfect person. They rely instead on their priests to guide them in the use of their brains and allow themselves to be deceived.


They think their prayers are flattery but God has no use for it. If he listens at all, they are mere irritating noises. Every prayer is a statement that his products are defective. Why should he then answer these prayers?

Look at the rest of nature. Each living organism utilizes the device it has in existing successfully. The birds fly, the fish swim and the rest of nature glorifies in their existence. The mere functioning of their bodies is a satisfaction to their maker. He does not need any further prayers or obeisance.

These Christians are a mutation of nature. They indulge in lazy prayers and complain when an answer is not forthcoming. However, there is nothing to answer, the products are functional and the environment is perfect. The buyers are defective.

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8 thoughts on “PATER NOSTER AND THE ALLEGORY OF THE PHONE – A METAPHYSICAL MUSING | by Ayo Sogunro

  1. I don’t quite agree with your allegory comparing a phone manufacturer to God, our creator. You said these Christians do not contemplate the impossibility of an Omnipotent God creating an imperfect person. You forget that God gave man a choice to either be perfect or imperfect. Man strives to live in perfection but because of his weaknesses needs strengthening from God to live in perfection.
    You also compared man to the other creatures, the birds and they fish but forgot to mention that the Bible states that man was created in the image and likeness of God. At the risk of sounding like a theologian, I think you forgot to consider the fact that man was not created for the same purposes as the birds and the fishes. Those creatures were put on earth for Man’s use and so have no other function apart from that.
    You said earlier, that there are different types of prayers….. supplcation, adoration, expiation and thanksgiving. Each type of prayer serves a different function. Man’s duty on earth is to serve and worship God. Its our duty to praise him and thank him for the gift of life. I do not agree that the fact that Man prays to thank him for all he has done is a sign of disrespect to God. Even to a human being like a King, where praise singers comes to praise him, it is counted as a sign of respect not disrespect.
    You later said that the sounds of Man’s prayers to God is like an irritating noise. Except you are postulating that God does not exist or that he is insensitive to his people’s plight, i do not believe or agree that your position is true. Neither do I believe that our prayers of supplication to God is an insult, declaring him incompetent.
    I welcome you to try and convince me otherwise. Both You and Pluto.

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  2. @AYO…STL WAITIN FOR AN ANSA TO TOMI”S QUESTIONS
    @TOMI….I THINK U’R MISSIN THE WHOLE GIST…..THE CORE OF WHAT THE WRITER IS TRYING TO SAY IS THAT MOST PEOPLE PRAY FOR WHT GOD HAS ALREADY GIVEN THEM THE POWER TO DO………

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  3. The allegory is a beautiful one. And I must admit that to a large extent, the message of the essay is to make us realize that we need to do things on our own with the guidelines we’ve been given, not to rely on some self-proclaimed channels to God. I am a strong believer in the statement that says: ‘God gave us brains so we could let him rest on some issues.’ However, we still need to pray at all times as the scriptures ‘the guideline’ says. We need this simply because the ways of God (for he who knows God exists) are different from the ordinary ‘ways’ of men. When your desire to pray always without even attempting to take a step based on the set guidelines, that is where the real problems set in. All in all, the ways of God are mysterious, yet we should use our brains while trusting Him with the guidelines he has ALREADY given us. I daresay at the end of the day, the most important type of prayer (seeing as we must pray) is the ‘prayer of thanksgiving or praises to God.’#Selah

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  4. A very interesting piece. Well done. However, I doubt that you could ever convince Plato of a God that created humans and plants with just words. Philosophers are logical. The Christian theory of creation isn’t. Also I doubt that there are successful manufacturers of anything in the world that don’t provide after sales services. Buyers will simply stop buying from them. So maybe Plato isn’t quite the capitalist just yet. That said however, I agree that many of us spend too many early mornings and late nights praying, which tends to make it a bit difficult for us to function at our optimum for the rest of the working day. 🙂

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  5. “Prayer is the master key”. I’ve heard nominal Christians sing these words a million times. Indisputably, prayer is essential to the life of a Christian. What is a Christian without prayer? In the Scriptures, God encourages Christians to pray to him, not just to seek guidance and direction when the occasion demands it, but also when it becomes imperative to offer their heartfelt gratitude to him for what he’s done for them.

    As an initial matter, the Christian creed of prayer is not absolute. It has got its own limits. Much as the Scriptures encourage Christians to pray, it also identifies several instances where such ‘prayers’ would be tantamount to a nuisance- an irritating noise, as it were. Sadly, most prayers supposedly offered to God fall within the latter category. As an example,there is no support whatsoever in the Manual Book for Christians (the Bible) for the practice prevalent in mainstream Christianity today where an individual or a Congregation of ‘Prayer Warriors’ wakes up the entire neighborhood at midnight because he/she is communing with the Creator. That never happens in sane societies. In a scriptural sense, it also breaches that fundamental principle encapsulated in the Golden Rule to love one’s neighbor as oneself.

    Or how do we explain the practice of commanding, threatening, cajoling, and yelling at God to give what the prayer warrior desires this very instant? This is downright disrespectful and insulting to God. What parent appreciates a child that commands and threatens the parent to accede to the child’s need or want? There is no such parent. At least, I am yet to come across one.

    What God would look with approval at a so-called worshiper who sits on his/her lazy butt all day and prays unceasingly for food, clothing, shelter, and destruction of the enemy without even the flimsiest attempt to do what is practically required to secure a paying job? Definitely not the Christian God for his Word categorically condemns laziness which more often than not is shrouded in faith without works. Such prayers are an aberration. They misrepresent God as an indulging benefactor that perpetually feeds on the sycophantic chants of nonentities who have got nothing else to do all day! Certainly, such practice is repulsive from the standpoint of practical Christianity. As Ayo rightly pointed out, these ‘buyers’ are defective! Not the product. The Manufacturer? Not Him, either!

    The message in Ayo’s article is clear. Disagree with it all you want. Let your blind faith becloud your sense of sound judgment. Allow the ‘third party’ charlatans fleece you of the last kobo of your hard-earned money. That’s your business. Too, it’s your problem. But nothing detracts from the fact that most prayers today are a lot of irritating, annoying, vexing noises that should be made the subject of a legal action under the appropriate head for the nuisance they unabashedly perpetrate in the community! Worse still, they have absolutely no value in the sight of God. They are as repugnant to Him as the irritating hums of a frustrated mosquito in the ears of a knackered sleeper.

    Prayer is the master key for Christians. The scriptures contain the guideline on how to pray to God in such a way as to meet his approval. Study the guideline and do good for yourself. Keep up with the Pentecostal tradition at your peril.

    Ayo, nice piece. More power to your elbow.

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  6. The message you try to pass is very clear but making the comparison of this world’s creation and that of Manufacturing isn’t that too good. God didn’t create this world and leave it to run on its own, infact if He was to take a leave from the affairs of this world for a minute, that’s the End – we will all die. And dats why He is Omnipotent, Omnipresent and far Exalted. He enjoins His creations to seek his assistance through prayer for He is near and listens. But what do you say of people praying and shouting at the top of their voice( are they insinuating God doesn’t hear very clearly or the louder it is, the faster it gets to God and the faster he replies?) God hears the footsteps of the black ant in a dark night under a black rock. And the 3rd party part is so true that its even worse than you expressed. God is never tired of listening to calls from His creations. (P.S: I am Muslim, hence my views) @Adefeez

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