Friday, December 05, 2008

Saint not affected by Recession

Today is an early day home and time to spend with the family as in Holland we celebrate the birthday of Saint Nicholas, or Sinterklaas as we call him.

Saint Nicholas (270 - December 6, 346) is the common name for Nicholas of Myra, a Lycian saint and Bishop of Myra in Lycia of Anatolia (modern-day Antalya province, Turkey, though at the time it was a Greek-speaking Roman Province). Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercessions, he is also known as Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker. He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and is now commonly identified with Santa Claus. Nicholas was never officially canonised; his reputation simply evolved among the faithful, as was the custom in his time. In 1087, his relics were furtively translated to Bari in southern Italy. For this reason, he is also known as Saint Nicholas of Bari. [wikipedia]

Santa Claus is primarily an American commercial concoction, which has nothing to do with Christmas and in the Netherlands we still prefer Sinterklaas as gift-machine over Santa Claus, which is quite fortunate as we have a half month headstart to predict how hard the credit crunch and recession really kicks in.

Well, rest assured ye merry gentlemen, nothing is wrong with the world. Sinterklaas sales have reached a record high again this year and prospects for Christmas sales are good too. Well, not entirely true, but the Saint doesn't seem touched by the turmoil of the credit crunch and recession.

For a little more background on Saint Nicholas, and how he became Santa and got screwed by Coca-Cola, check out the St. Nicholas Center website.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Virtual Israel opens Borders

Today the Jewish Chronicle reported on Israel in Second Life, which has opened the doors on january 13 whereas the real Israel closes its borders. The article in the Jewish Chronicle is written for absolute n00bs, but here's a quote anyway:

"You can now visit the Holy Land without leaving home.

Rachel Fletcher logs on to an online virtual worldVisitors to the online virtual 3D world that is Second Life (SL) have long been able to attend a computerised synagogue, yeshivah, pray at the Western Wall, and wander round a Holocaust museum. But with the launch of Second Life Israel this month, the possibilities to live a virtual Jewish life have increased enormously.

Avatars — the characters users adopt when they visit SL — can now take a dip in the Dead Sea, tour the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Dome of the Rock, get down on a Tel Aviv dancefloor, experience the brilliantly coloured
underwater observatory in Eilat, or visit Yad Vashem’s Children’s Memorial. "

It is a little cramped, but indeed Israel has immersed on one sim. As far as construction goes in Second Life, I wouldn't call it a classy build. It has some great textures, but more often than not, the textures do not really fit. Throughout the sim there are new features under construction, but lack of space causes the builders to revert to textured decorums, which is a shame I think.

I really hope this community will grow and expand its borders in Second Life and hope to see more of the ancient city of Jerusalem and other sites from the Holy Land appear.


Labels: , , , ,

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:

Labels: , ,