Whoopee!!! Pray-o-mat installed at Manchester University, UK! That’ll show ‘em, man!

I thought this story must be a spoof.  But apparently it isn’t:

A multi-faith praying machine called the Pray-O-Mat has been installed at the University of Manchester.

The specially converted photo booth offers more than 300 pre-recorded prayers and incantations in 65 different languages via a touch screen.

The free-to-use machine, designed by German artist Oliver Sturm, is part of a three-year project on multi-faith spaces by the university. …

Project leader Ralf Brand, senior architecture lecturer, said: “Though the Pray-o-mat is a bit tongue-in-cheek, there is a serious message to what we’re doing.

“Successful multi-faith spaces do not need to be flashy or expensive.

Other than to the taxpayer, no doubt, who carried these clowns for three years.

I was under the impression that there was a real problem for young scholars in obtaining teaching posts in UK universities.  A young scholar with skills in Syriac and Coptic will still find himself on the dole, unless he emigrates.  Young archaeologists and classicists fight over a handful of opportunities, and the money spent educating the rest is wasted. 

Perhaps Manchester University might consider terminating the contract of Dr Ralf Brand and his merry pranksters, and using the money instead to fund some junior research fellowships in real academic disciplines.  That is, after all, what the education budget is supposed to be used for.

UPDATE: This rubbish cost you and me 452,000 pounds UK, or around $700,000.  It costs around 5,000 GBP — about $7,000 — to translate a 10,000 word ancient text into English.  That’s about the size of a “book” in most ancient texts, and perhaps relates to the size of a papyrus roll.  So for the same money we could have funded the translation of 100 texts which are unknown and inaccessible to everyone. 

5 Responses to “Whoopee!!! Pray-o-mat installed at Manchester University, UK! That’ll show ‘em, man!”


  1. rey

    How could it cost that much money? Its just one of those picture booths with words painted on the side.

    And, it seems the guys who made it were too stupid to know that some religions require a standing posture or a laying face flat on the ground posture while praying. The most successful “multi-faith space” would be patch of grass outside. Recorded prayers? If they don’t know their own religion’s prayers, maybe they shouldn’t be praying. For 20 pounds I can give you prayer space for everyone: stick a sign out in the lawn that says “multi-faith space”. Amen.

  2. Roger Pearse

    Well, I imagine the cost is for the whole project, and producing a pray-o-mat is just a bit of fun that they had at the end, to show their contempt for the whole religion business.

  3. Maureen

    Also, they only picked five religions. If they had been serious, they could have picked out more faiths than that with their eyes closed and their hands tied behind their back.

  4. Maureen

    Oh, and it’s not wheelchair-accessible. So by their own rules of PC, this isn’t any good.

  5. Roger Pearse

    Good points. But I suspect that perhaps it indicates that the team who made it themselves were laughing at the whole exercise. It’s deeply sinister, in a way — money raised to pay for hospitals and roads being diverted into a study on designs for multifaith temples.



css.php