Internet tries to bring God closer

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FOR THOSE who believed God's message was getting lost amid the increasing Christmas commercialism, help, of a sort, is at hand. A new gift service guarantees that the Almighty will communicate with you on a regular basis - sending inspirational verses of the Bible via your pager.

The Pages from God facility is one of a burgeoning number of theological gizmos available on the Internet. It will page you 20 times a month - in return for a small subscription.

Or invest in some Testamints, which come in three flavours and have wrappers bearing verses of the Bible. "'Next time you're on a train... think: Testamint," reads the blurb for a special seasonal tin. "Pass them round and do the work of an evangelist. You'll be helping to share the Good Chews."

Less tasteful is the Talking Tombstone, a standard granite and bronze memorial, which has the bizarre addition of a built-in speaker. A recorded announcement is triggered by an invisible beam so, every time a visitor approaches, a metallic voice declares something to the effect of "Hi! I was Jane Smith. I died at 10.15am, Thursday, November 25th 1994. Thanks for coming to see me. Have a nice day."

Meanwhile, the Mormons are marketing a Repent! Wristwatch, a constant reminder that whatever time it is, it is always time to repent.

Other suggestions for a last-minute Christmas present for your parish priest include a Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Text digital clock, which flashes up verses of the Bible on the hour. And finally, fun for all the family with an Ecclesiastical Karaoke machine. This digital player has 3,000 hymns to choose from and an optional "Amen" button to bring each rendition to a fitting close.