Saturday, July 21, 2007

Virtual Religion, Real Salvation?

Whether negative, or positive, Second Life keeps getting press coverage. Most press coverage is obviously from techmagazines, regular newsitems or professional magazines. Once in a while there's a story on Religion in Second Life.

One of the first articles I read was in the TV-Guide of the Dutch Evangelical Broadcaster EO which reported on Second Life in april this year, soon afterwards followed by an article on

Here's a two observations I've made:

  1. Traditional churches do not yet have an understanding of the metaverse, hence falling short in their reports which give rise to criticism and work counterproductive
  2. Some churches only see the 'sin' in worlds like Second Life and feel an urge to christianize.
We've spoken on Metabrands, as being metaverse-born companies to provide services Real Life companies can't, but it seems as if there are a few Metachurches coming about as well: Churches with no Real World ties other than the Gospel. This Metachurch concept might give confessional churches a thought to ponder, as it will be hard to position them. It is hard telling where it's origins lie, like Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian or some obscure sect.

Second Life doesn't differ from the real world all that much. In Real Life sex is big business and the metaverse seems to be making the same developments as the early internet, that was seen as the digital sodom and gomorra about 15 years ago.

Nothing strange to Real Life is strange to Second Life either, but by being such a relative small and niche community, it's easy to spot these element. These elements will remain in the Metaverse, and will probably be over-represented as long as normal business hasn't found real purpose in worlds like this.

Many people come to Second Life with a purpose, but there are those out there that have no purpose in Second Life, nor in First Life. There are people hanging out at the Welcome area without a purpose in life, other than sit, chat and provoke. With regular intervals you can spot demons and Goths there, some intentional, some being mere teens without a clue to what their avatars convey, beyond 'just looking cool'

If it comes to churches in Second Life it should not be about establishing a 'church' in the Metaverse, but about being a good Samaritan. Find these people whose lives are empty and are looking for meaning. It has surprised me that a successfull programme like the Alpha Course hasn't shown up yet in Second Life.

Another course of action for Churches would be to monetize the essence of Second Life; it's freedom and anonimity. There are countries in the world where christians can't come forth without risking imprisonment or worse. Second Life may well prove to be fertile soil for underground churches and organisations like Open Doors.

Some links:

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