Phonozoic Text Archive, Document 079
"Phonograph Pastors," Literary Digest 62:13 (No. 1536), Sept. 27, 1919, p. 28.
The installation of
3,000 "phonograph pastors," proposed by the Presbyterian New Era Conference,
seems like a leap from H. G. Wells's novel, "The Sleeper Awakes," where he
visualizes the religion-worship of two hundred years hence as "a combination of
the phonograph and electric display." The St. Louis Star observes:
"The English novelist made his evolution of the Church a consequence of the eternal haste of an artificial civilization. The Presbyterian innovation is a measure of economy. The pulpits are empty because financial support is lacking. But it is possible that once the phonograph is established in the pastorless churches, it will drive the ministers out of many other churches. The phonograph has been so wonderfully improved in recent years that it is capable of genuine oratory, and can convey its message to an audience of several hundred people--far more than ever gather in the smaller churches. But the real advantage should be in the caliber of the sermon.
"Who is to say that a congregation will not prefer to hear the 'canned' voice of a $20,000 a year minister, representing the highest intellect and the finest expression of religious thought to be found in the Church, rather than the 'firstlies' and 'tenthlies' of a man who struggles under the martyrdom of a $600 salary and preaching ability to match?"