The Merriam Webster dictionary defines prayer as “an address (such as a petition) to God or a god in word or thought.” God is defined as “a being or object believed to have more than natural attributes and powers and to require human worship.”
They’re both fairly loose definitions that leave room for individuals to decide what exactly constitutes a god and what exactly constitutes a prayer to that god. I’d like to argue that Amazon fits the definition of a god, that all transactions through Amazon function as a form of prayer and that due to the overwhelming success of these transactions, Amazon functions as a better god than any worshipped in modern religions.
It’s scary to hear that a corporation responsible for gentrification and transportation woes is more powerful than the gods most worshippers pray to. But perhaps the worship of this corporation is inevitable.
Maybe we have no other alternative. It’s possible that our best option in life is in putting our faith in a flawed corporation that answers most “prayers” rather than in a god that seems to answer none.
Of course, I’m biased. I’m an atheist — it’s difficult for me to worship anything. I’m not suggesting that people should bow down to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. I am saying that the omnipresence of Amazon and the vast number of people that rely on it fit well within our conceptions of what religion is.
From a numbers standpoint, Amazon competes easily with major religions. In 2018, Bezos revealed that Amazon Prime had more than 100 million subscribers. Change subscribers to adherents, and Amazon has a greater following than Judaism.
Amazon has more than 2,800 lockers across the U.S. alone. Compared to the more than 17,000 Catholic parishes in the country, this number seems minimal. But if one considers that the locker program was only launched in 2011, the statistics show that Amazon is in position to overtake Catholicism in number of places of worship alone.
To be fair, numbers alone don’t make Amazon a religion; it seems ridiculous to imply it. However, I would argue that “Amazonism” not only qualifies as a religion but is also more worshippable than any other.
Prayer is an excellent place to start. Growing up, I prayed for thousands of things. I can’t remember ever getting what I wanted. In contrast, whenever I “pray” to Amazon, I’m almost always guaranteed to get what I ask for, and if I don’t, Amazon will offer me reimbursement for my trouble.
Despite all the unfulfilled prayers I’ve made to a god, I’ve never gotten a refund for my lost time. It’s feasible to argue that the fact that Amazon demands a currency in exchange for fulfilled prayers eliminates the possibility of it functioning as a god. Yet no religion gives salvation or services without sacrifices.
In addition, like other religions, Amazon is flawed. It has hurt people, hurt communities and thrived on the systemic elimination of its rivals in the oppressive and capitalistic system it resides in.
We’re fortunate to be able to live in a place where we don’t have to worship anything, and I intend to keep doing that. Yet when I think about objects of worship, Amazon seems like the best bet.
I can see it. It gives me what I ask for. It’s present in our society and draws people from all walks of life. Unlike the god I spent my childhood praying to, it answers my prayers.
I don’t want to worship Amazon. But if it keeps growing at this rate and pushing aside its competition, I might not have a choice.
Eamon Morris PZ ’22 is from Orange, California. He’d like to apologize to his parents for writing this.