Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Virtual Religion

William Saletan's column in Slate ( deals with churches in the virtual reality world of Second Life ( It's worth reprinting in full - I sense a possible thesis topic:

Virtual churches are sprouting in Second Life. Many are online branches of real churches, with streaming video of live sermons. Rationales: 1) Cyberspace is another frontier for evangelism. 2) Where better to reach the unsaved? 3) It's no weirder than the current practice of broadcasting to real-life satellite churches where congregants watch services on screens. Secular critique: Second Life should be for fantasies like sex, not drudgeries like church. Religious critique: Church, like sex, is more exciting in the flesh. Social critique: Real religion consists of good works in this world, not pretending to worship in another. Half-cynical view: Conversations in Second Life churches are less fake than the "good-sermon-nice-weather exchanges" in real churches. Fully cynical view: Most churchgoing is fake, so why not let your avatar do it for you, like sending your kids to Sunday school.

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