My Mother's Incredibly Christian Clock


What Time Is It? It’s Time For The Lord’s Prayer1

Sharing top billing with The Angel in my mother’s collection of er, … well, her collection of collectibles is another religious icon: The Incredibly Christian Chronograph and Call To Prayer.

The visual presentation is intriguing if not awe-inspiring. As pictured above, the piece consists of a round clock face, perhaps three inches in diameter, flanked by kneeling prepubescent figures: a girl on the right and a boy on the left, each with hands clasped in fervent prayer, and each wearing pastel blue facsimiles of school uniforms, a pinafore for the young lady and shirt & short pants for the young gentleman.

A notable detail is the contrast between the boy’s reverently bowed head and the girl’s face, which is peering straight ahead with an open-eyed and somewhat ambiguous expression. Is she perhaps conveying the sublime ecstasy of an intimate liaison with her personal Savior or are her thoughts playfully straying in anticipation of more earthly delights once the her prayers are completed? Or is this something altogether less ethereal, something more basic and physical than psychological; does her open mouth, kneeling posture, and eager aspect indicate that she is posed and ready for manduction? Like the mysterious smile on the Mona Lisa, the enigma of the blessed clock-girl’s expression may never be resolved.

The outstanding feature of this item, however, is its audio capacity. My introduction to this treasured appliance, in fact, was its annunciation, launched without provocation or prior warning at precisely 6 PM, Thanksgiving Day, of “Our Father, which art in heaven, … ” or, more accurately, “OUR FATHER WHICH ART IN HEAVEN, … ,” and then going on to recite the entire Lord’s Prayer2 in the resonant, fortissimo voice of an stupefyingly strident, incessantly insistent, and perpetually perky teenage girl.

As we were to discover, in fact, The Clock declaims the Pater Noster at exactly 6 & 7 AM and again at 6 & 7 PM — every damn blessed day. Curious about the rationale underlying the unusual 6 AM – 7 AM – 6 PM – 7 PM schedule, I queried the curator (AKA Mom). Displaying incredulity that the news hadn’t already reached the Greater Chicagoland Area, she informed me that this model was advertised to commence the familiar prayer only at 6 AM and 6 PM, but, she went on to explain with evident pride and gratitude, the specimen that found its way to her living room also holds forth at 7 AM and 7 PM as well – a happenstance that she clearly accounts a bonus and that she implies falls only a step below raising the dead and healing the sick in the hierarchy of miracles.

While I am fascinated by The Incredibly Christian Chronograph, I do feel it is flawed, if only by omission, because (1) it lacks any kinetic action other than the imperceptible movement of the clock’s hands and (2) it is, the booming recital of The Lord’s Prayer notwithstanding, deficient in the razzle-dazzle department. Consider the enhanced experience of the household were, say, a cuckoo-clock mechanism to propel a plastic representation of Jesus skyward through a maze of flashing laser lights accompanied by a booming rendition of Flight of the Valkyries in emulation and celebration of the Ascension, producing incremental inspiration at shock and awe levels.

It’s just a thought — or perhaps a vision.

In keeping with full disclosure, I must point out that the graphic atop this posting is not a photo of my mother’s clock. Regrettably, equipment failure prevented me from photographically documenting the original work of art, but I have since tracked down a photo from a web retailer (Boscov’s) that carries the Talking Musical Prayer Clock, which appears to be an updated version of the original model in my mother’s collection. The clock pictured has, for example, a “God Bless My Family” epigram (absent on the one on display in my mother’s home) and also offers, in addition to the classic Lord’s Prayer recital, the options of wakening to church bells or “eleven peaceful hymns” (a bold, counterintuitive choice for wake-up duty although personally, I think I’d still go with one of those raucous hymns for this purpose) and falling asleep to “The Bedtime Prayer.” The auditory effects are said to be available in English or Spanish (listening to the church bells in Spanish might be a nice change).

Tomorrow: International & intercultural implications of my mother’s collection

  1. “What Time Is It? It’s Time For The Lord’s Prayer” was formerly the title of this post. It was changed because Google and WordPress persist in managing apostrophes in differing manners with the result that WordPress posts with titles containing that punctuation may not be properly indexed in Google. []
  2. I believe the clock’s allocution adds several phrases and sentiments not found in the original versions set forth in Matthew and Luke. Or perhaps the clock’s performance includes a number of repetitions of the Lord’s Prayer in various languages. Or, I may have lost consciousness at some point. In any case, it does seem to go on for approximately all eternity []

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