Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Truth Is Stranger #53: "Second Life" As Mission Territory

Evangelization...the final frontier....

ROME (Reuters) - Catholic missionaries have always trekked to dangerous parts of the Earth to spread the word of God -- now they are being encouraged to go into the virtual realm of Second Life to save virtual souls.

In an article in Rome-based Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica, academic Antonio Spadaro urged fellow Catholics not to be scared of entering the virtual world which may be fertile ground for new converts wishing to better themselves.

"It's not possible to close our eyes to this phenomenon or rush to judge it," Spadaro said. "Instead it needs to be understood ... the best way to understand it is to enter it."

Second Life is a simulation game where players can create a virtual version of themselves -- an avatar -- and interact with other people in the three-dimensional world.

According to its Web site, it has a population of more than 8 million residents and millions of dollars change hands there every month.

"Is there (cyber) space for God?" Spadaro aaka in his article which says there are already virtual churches and temples serving countless religions. He quotes a Swedish Muslim who says his avatar prays regularly as he prays in real life.


Read the rest here.

Um. OK, apparently Second Life is pretty much a haven for those who want to have virtual sex (I wouldn't know for sure...haven't been there, and not going to go). So, I suppose the Word has a place there. But ... evangelizing through a virtual reality game?

I don't know what to think. Comments?
--I.C.
(HT to Locusts and Honey.)

10 comments:

Ray from MN said...

Much of Jesus' ministry was spent preaching through the use of parables, a form of virtual reality.

And many of the Desert Fathers and Eastern monastics utilized stories to get their point across.

The "Second Life" approach is headed in the wrong direction.

But someone might some day call upon the Holy Spirit for guidance in the creation of a virtual ministry.

anon said...

I may well create a virtual persona on Second Life as a cannibal and eat myself a virtual missionary.

anon said...

On the other hand, would cannibalism be a sin if one does it on line? If it is, could one go to a virtual confessor and receive a virtual penance? There are some interesting possibilities here; on-line penances for Second Life avatars could have some real old school possibilities. Scourging and branding for example and other things that we don't do any more since Vatican 2. Maybe rote memorization of Latin noun declensions....

other said...

i thought you speek italian...

angelmeg said...

We are called to reach out to where people are and lead them to Christ. If people are spending that much time in a virtual reality, why not reach them there?

Why give it over to the evil one completely?

just a thought.

Your life may be the only gospel some people read. I wonder if that can apply to virtual life as well?

John said...

I've never played Second Life (if 'play' is the right term), but I think that it is a nifty idea to spread the Gospel through characters there. A positive Christian presence everywhere can get people ready to receive Jesus. That happened with me. Way back in the day, there was a time that my only meaningful social contact was through an online RPG based on the novel Watership Down. One of the leading players was a Christian. His characters weren't (obviously), but his self-professed identity as a Christian when I was an atheist gave me a better impression of Christians that I was otherwise getting.

The Ironic Catholic said...

Ray--Parables as virtual reality...interesting idea....

Anon--ha!

Angelmeg and John, thanks for the comments. This is very interesting!

Given the "anonymous life" of Second Life, and how that tends to bring out the worst in people, I am imagining missionaries getting hit on, mugged, etc on this game, but who knows?

Kersplat said...

I have a character in Second Life (or SL as we call it). There are actually a lot of catholics already and some of them who have way more talent and patience than I do have built churches, a monastery, and quaint prayer nooks.

It hasn't been a bad experience per se, and I have met some very interesting people. Some of them are profoundly autistic, but have found a way to communicate through the computer. I do recommend it if you have some time to spare.

PraiseDivineMercy said...

Let me say this: Role Playing is not always about simulated sex. It's often about creating stories as you go along. Quite a few RPs forbid cybering. Moderators, many of whom are volunteers, ban those they catch engaged in inappropriate activities.

PraiseDivineMercy said...

Oh, and as a second note, it is specifically stated in the catechism that the sacrament of confession must be done in person.