I'm not a religious man, but the Christian Messiah has returned. This time around, Jesus Christ has come back in the form of the Mobile Phone. Let me explain.
The parallels are so striking that I'm surprised the Pope hasn't issued an encyclical on it yet. First off, the mobile phone, like Jesus, has won a fast and rapidly growing global following. All over the world and throughout the day, people speak to their mobile phones. They use their phones to console, to confess, to feel part of a larger community. They use their mobile phones to say thanks. Mobile phones have become a main source of comfort and security—just like a savior. If your car breaks down or you're in trouble in any way, you better have your mobile phone. You will curse the devil if you don't.
Some worshippers today wear their mobile phones around their necks, like a cross. Phones have given way to their own language and hieroglyphics. Phones can die, and can be resurrected. The disciples can be heard all around us: "I couldn't call you, my phone was dead."
Phones can turn water into wine, and feed armies by turning large quantities of bread and fish appear almost out of nowhere. Just quick-dial Domino's, ask for extra anchovies, and let the miracles begin.
Mobile phones have their own competing churches in the form of mobile operators. They claim to each hold different beliefs and values, offering their own colors, individual tariffs, and attitudes, but the reality is they're all pimping the same savior. They have churches all over the major cities and, increasingly, in the countryside, ready to take you in anytime you want to add a little more prayer time or purchase an indulgence.
Here in Russia, MTS is the Orthodox Church, while MegaFone is a kind of a progressive Protestant movement. BeeLine? They're the Jews. The company was set up by the same kind of tech geeks that gave birth to mobile technology. They are also skilled bankers.
The Crusades these churches lead are impressive. It's impossible to flip through TV channels, magazine pages, or look up in any large city without being met by aggressive advertising converting heathens into believers.
Mobile phone street preachers are everywhere these days, from your converted friends to hired promoters brandishing sandwich boards, handing out literature, or yelling at anyone willing to listen and take a free information brochure. No obligation. Just come in for a free test. Get on your knees and listen to details about the plans on offer.
And did you know that the Rio de Jesus statue contains a mobile base station, receiving and transmitting signals to the metropolis alongside the giant icon?
The oncoming 3G technology even parallels the old Christian idea of the Third Rome. According to the theory, Moscow is the Third Rome, and if the city's reign as the Orthodox religious centre was to fall, it would usher in the Apocalypse and the beginning of the spirit world. Well, for orthodox believers in the mobile phone, 3G is the Third Rome, enabling incredibly fast transmission of internet through the mobile telephone. The evolutionary path is clear: "phones" will soon develop into some sort of a fully integrated lifestyle device that plugs you into an international communications network. The phone, in the orthodox understanding of the word, will cease to be. It isn't simply going to be about calling someone to talk, possibly using an implant in your watch—or tooth. The mobile phone as we know it will soon be dead, nailed to a radio tower. Its spirit will ascend and live forever, but the body will decay on Golgotha, its shroud and bone remnants destined for church museums.