D.L. STEWART: The road to Heaven may not be paved with iPhones


The most egregious example of cellphone addiction, I always thought, was the video of the bride who pulled her phone out of the bodice of her dress to answer it — while the ceremony was being conducted. Now I’m not so sure. Based on a recent story in the New York Times, it could be the woman who used her iPhone to order a pair of boots on the internet while sitting at a Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

According to the report, Dianne Alfaro did her footwear shopping sitting in a pew while the choir at the Manhattan church was otherwise praising God with the hymn, “Jerusalem My Happy Home.” Asked about that by a reporter after the Mass, she declared, “It’s not a sin.”

MORE D.L.: Accordionist’s death squeezes out musical memories

Which probably is true. There’s no mention of cell phone usage in the Bible. At least not in the Old Testament.

As someone whose visits to houses of worship is pretty much limited to bar mitzvahs, weddings and, increasingly, funerals, I may not be the right person to comment on matters of faith. Besides, I’m pretty there’s a Bible passage that warns about judging not lest you be judged. But, Heaven help me, sanctuary shopping strikes me as just a bit sacreligious.

Maybe that’s because my childhood religious experiences were at the Church of Several Hundred Commandments, where violating any of them could bring down the wrath of God. Or, worse, the wrath of my mother. Among the rules at the Sunday morning services were: “Thou shalt not talk,” “Thou shalt not chew gum” and “Thou shalt not scratch even though thou are wearing the itchiest wool trousers ever made.” Apparently the gates Heaven were locked against talking, chewing, scratching little boys.

AND MORE D.L.: Reflecting upon 50 years of unimportance

But Sunday services seem to be a bit more casual these days because, as the Times’ story headlined, … “at St. Patrick’s the Selfies Abound.” In addition to shopping online, worshippers reportedly are whipping out their cell phones and snapping selfies from one end of the nave to the other. And that’s in spite of an admonishment from Pope Francis, a pretty hip pontiff, who has urged Catholics to leave their phones home. “At some point,” he declared, “the priest during the Mass says, ‘Lift up your hearts.’ He does not say, ‘Lift up your cellphones to take pictures.’”

Whether Dianne Alfaro makes it to Paradise or winds up in the other place for bowing her head over her cellphone instead of bowing it to pray is not for me to say. But, wherever she goes, at least she’ll be wearing nice boots.

AND EVEN MORE D.L.: ‘Last class’ creates plenty more room for concern



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Police: Florida man kicks swans, sleeping duck while practicing karate
Police: Florida man kicks swans, sleeping duck while practicing karate

A Florida man was arrested Thursday morning after he allegedly kicked two swans in the head and then another swan in the backside while practicing karate at Lake Eola, Orlando police said. Rocco Mantella, 34, was charged with cruelty to animals, according to an arrest report. The report said a witness told police Mantella kicked the...
Boy Scouts canvassing neighborhoods for canned goods this weekend

Boy Scouts of America will be canvassing neighborhoods through Saturday for canned goods. Collected food with by donated to The Foodbank and local food pantries, according to a release. Those interested in donating can also do so at The Foodbank. The Boy Scouts are hoping to collect more than 100,000 pounds of food to celebrate the 100th anniversary...
Congressmen want answers after Ryan asks House chaplain to resign
Congressmen want answers after Ryan asks House chaplain to resign

Democratic congressmen are seeking answers after House Speaker Paul Ryan asked the House chaplain to resign earlier this month, CNN reported. Father Pat Conroy resigned April 15, ending nearly seven years of praying to kick off House of Representatives sessions. Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly said he wasn't sure why Ryan asked for the Jesuit priest&rsquo...
Warm afternoon and stray shower to start weekend
Warm afternoon and stray shower to start weekend

Cool and quiet morning Warm afternoon with stray shower Cooler weekend, but dry Today: It will be a quiet and cool morning in the 40s, said Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini. There will be some sunshine early with clouds increasing for the afternoon. Highs will reach the mid-60s again with a stray shower or two possible this afternoon...
Dog recovers after attack by hawk in backyard
Dog recovers after attack by hawk in backyard

A dog in Massachusetts is on the mend after she was attacked in her backyard by a hawk. It's been a few days for Daisy and her owner Susan Nascimeno after the 10-year-old bichon frise was attacked by a hawk Monday afternoon while fenced in her East Freeport backyard.  "She was just covered in blood -- her chest, back, butt, everything was...
More Stories