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"In 1970 I found little difficulty staying 30 years ahead of the man in the street, and now I find it difficult to stay 18 months ahead of the man on the street."
- Vernor Vinge

Padre Booth  
  Device that provides religious aid and comfort on demand.  

Getting ready to leave Earth, Joe Fernwright is seized by doubt. Who could he consult at a moment's notice in any spaceport?

Getting to his feet he crossed the waiting room to the Padre booth; inside he put a dime into the slot and dialed at random. The marker came to rest at Zen.

"Tell me your torments," the Padre said, in an elderly voice marked with compassion. And slowly; it spoke as if there were no rush, no pressures. All was timeless.

Joe said "I haven't worked for seven months and now I've got a job that takes me out of the Sol system entirely, and I'm afraid. What if I can't do it? What if I've lost my skill?

The Padre's weightless voice floated back reassuringly to him. "You have worked and not worked. Not working is the hardest work of all."

That's what I get for dialing zen, Joe said to himself. Before the Padre could intone further he switched to Puritan Ethic.

"Without work," the Padre said in a somewhat more forceful voice, "A man is nothing. He ceases to exist."

From Galactic Pot-Healer, by Philip K. Dick.
Published by Berkley Publishing in 1969
Additional resources -

Following this effort, Joe tries Roman Catholic, Muslim and Jewish versions of the Padre, finally being told to have some Martian fatworm soup, the most nourishing soup in the solar system, by the Jewish version.

Compare to the robot pope from Good News From the Vatican (1971) by Robert Silverberg and the proselytizing robot from Cities in Flight (1951) by James Blish.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Galactic Pot-Healer
  More Ideas and Technology by Philip K. Dick
  Tech news articles related to Galactic Pot-Healer
  Tech news articles related to works by Philip K. Dick

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  - 'Electronic Mufti' May Issue Machine Fatwas
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  - Confession App For iPhone Catholic Church Approved
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