Sunday, June 6, 2010

Parktown Chapel

From my observation, the most common faith in SecondLife is probably no faith at all. For a technologically driven social apparatus, it's not surprising that many, if not most, of the participants are atheists.

Yet, knowing faith isn't a major part of SecondLife, I built a church. Why?

I can tell you, it wasn't to proselytize or evangelize. I am a christian, but I wouldn't be foolish enough to ask anyone to follow me because I don't really know where I'm going. My only hope is that people find their own peace with what they believe, no matter what it is.

I built a church because churches do and mean a lot more than just spreading religion. Secondlife is a community, and communities need a place to mark the passing of the major milestones in life: birth, marriage, death, and for centuries most of the cultures SecondLife users belong to used churches as a place of meeting and sharing these experiences. Churches become focal points for communities, even when it's not a faith-based community.

Many functions of churches have nothing to do with the magical thinking most often associated with religion. We are communal creatures and, to me, places of worship celebrate this communal nature and give us a place to express it and share it.

My church looks like a typical Catholic or Anglican chapel, but that's only because most of the people I know in Secondlife come from that sort of western tradition, but also because it just appeals to me aesthetically.

It is not a Catholic or Anglican church though. It's not even particularly a christian church, and I've made an effort to incorporate symbols from many different faiths in it to respect the friend's I've made here who weren't from christian cultures, but also to express my considered opinion that it's unlikely any one faith can claim to really know "the truth" about life, so a reasonable man is willing to leave himself open to whatever he can learn from any or all of them.

There's a second reason I made a church in SecondLife though, and it addresses how the use of digital avatars to represent ourselves might be a pretty good metaphor for the ultimate question of "what is man?".

Are we:
our physical body?
our mind?
our brain?
our spirit?
our digital avatar?
What are we?

Many faiths talk about a second life to come after this one; a life without pain or want or suffering, and here in SecondLife, we've made just that. Is SecondLife a metaphor for heaven? Are we using this digital platform to create a model for ourselves of what we've always dreamed of?

One of the most common things you'll see new SecondLife users acquire and wear is angel's wings. There's an infinate variety of wings here, from the crude free ones to the elaborate scripted ones.

I don't know that I believe in angels per se, but could it be the angel archetype is so ingrained in us that it only seems fitting people should have wings when they get here?

You can visit the Parktown Chapel in Jieut any time you like. Alone or with a friend. It's a quiet place I built for you.

1 comment:

  1. Whether it's a church, a mosque, a synagogue, a wiccan altar, or my temple.

    Hopefully, they are peaceful places for all.


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