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Second Life to acquire Jesuit Missionaries

August 5, 2007

WeeDram made a comment in a previous post about people who a “hide in a cyberworld” and it reminded me of a news story about Jesuits being encouraged to get SecondLife accounts and try to preach to the unconverted there.  But the academic Jesuit journalist warned them in advance; there’s a lot of sex in SecondLife. 

Spadaro warns the uninitiated that “the erotic dimension is very present” in Second Life, that people can buy genitalia for their avatars in a world that is “open to any form of erotic stimulation from prostitution to paedophilia”. While the virtual world might be a refuge for some people seeking to flee the real one, it is also full of people seeking something more from life, including, possibly, religious enlightenment, he said.

“Deep down, the digital world can be considered, in its way, mission territory,” he said. “Second Life is somewhere where the opportunity to meet people and to grow should not be missed, therefore, any initiative that can inspire the residents in a positive way should be considered opportune.”
- IT News:  Jesuits say take word of God to Second Life

Wired magazine writer Lore Sjoberg ponders:

The problem with this is that virtual worlds are someplace where you can be someone else. In fact, you can be anyone else. It would be ridiculous to go a comic book convention and try to talk someone dressed as Doctor Octopus out of robbing banks. Presumably animal-rights activists aren’t trying to convince Glenn Close not to make clothing out of Dalmatians. Why would you wander into a virtual world and pick out likely targets for conversion based on their avatars?
- Wired: Preaching to the perverted in Second Life

The rest of the Wired article is definitely worth reading as Sjoberg explores many aspects of this bizarre development.  He correctly hints that in standard Christian doctrine, sexual fantasy is just as bad as the sex act itself. 

some sins seem to be sins even if you’re just pretending. Most of these have to do with sex.

Here’s Jesus himself talkin’:

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
- Matthew 5:27-28

Maybe this explains why so many Christian wingers are against video games, to say nothing of Harry Potter: the inability to distinguish between reality and fantasy is hard-coded right into their religion.  I guess it is to be expected from a belief system that created an official national day for making telepathic contact with an invisible being.

So yes, there are people who get utterly lost in a cyber-world.  They’re probably the same people who (if they are religious) get utterly lost in their religion, or (if they like Star Trek) show up for work wearing Star Fleet uniforms.  Loss of contact with reality isn’t necessarily a property of cyber-gaming, religion, or TV fiction; you have to look at the individual.  Some of them are just going to be straight-up loony, no matter what the subject.

Anyway, back to virtual evangelism.  I hope the Jesuits will take their missionary work to World Of Warcraft, too.  Can’t you just picture this scene?

Friar: “Hast thou considered granting access to thy heart for the Lord thy God, good sir?”
Orc draws sword.  Swooshing noise, *SCHLUPP* *THUD*, wipes sword on grass, returns it to sheath.
Orc: “I came to the Realm to get away from clowns like you.”

Look for Second Life to include real-world job recruiting, even college recruiting, if not now, in the near future. 

Update: online chat-based group therapy is comparing well to location-based. 

Assessments were conducted at admission, discharge and 12 months after discharge. 12 months after discharge, chat participants showed a substantially lower risk (24.7%) for negative outcome than controls (38.5%). Furthermore, the low dropout rate and the high session attendance supported the expectation that this novel offer met patients’ needs, and thus, opens a new avenue for the optimization of care for patients with mental disorders.

Wonder if insurance companies will start paying for group therapy sessions in “Second Life?”


Categories: Religion
  1. August 5, 2007 at 12:15 | #1

    In credibly popular online worlds are the perfect place to do online recruiting.  It shows you are up on technology, with the times so to speak.

  2. August 5, 2007 at 20:56 | #2

    The whole “online world” is too much for me to think about right now, after a busy day with a fair amount of exertion and sun.  I will make one observation … though it is very preliminary and unformed as of yet.

    The whole concept of a “world” in cyberspace is somehow quite strange, if not disturbing.  I think I am coming to the conclusion that the ‘net is (or should be) a tool for me.  (Note:  for me; YMMV)  The more I feel my way about what makes me ME, the more time I want to spend grounded to the earth, interacting with “natural” surroundings, getting to know the oxygen (as impure as it is) I breath, the food I eat, the visual and aural space that forms me.

    To go recruiting or evangelizing in cyberspace seems silly to me.

  3. Ted
    August 5, 2007 at 22:34 | #3

    To go recruiting or evangelizing in cyberspace seems silly to me.

    How else you going to get to the shutins? It seems natural that in heaven, people won’t weigh 350 lbs and look like comic book guy.

    This is picking extremely low hanging fruit, but nonetheless, fruit that needs picking.

    Some companies I work with are buying property and advertising in Second Life. So why not proselytizing?

  4. August 7, 2007 at 08:05 | #4

    I see recruiting in the virtual world as a way to reach the techno-savvy generation (i.e. those under the age of 18).  It’s important to show them that this University knows how to use technology.

    When I was an undergrad I heard students complain whenever an instructor used an overhead projector and Sharpie to teach a class.  And rightfully so.

    Plus as Ted said, you get the shutins.  The way I look at it, if Universities recruited in WOW (World of Warcraft) they could get all the shutins they need.  Essentially wiping out sex, STDs, drinking, drugs, and more. lol.gif

  5. Lucas
    August 9, 2007 at 23:23 | #5

    Webs05:  Do you honestly think that overhead projectors are actually that different from PowerPoints?  I’ve seen good and bad use of overhead projectors (more bad than good).  To be honest, I don’t remember ever taking a class taught with a powerpoint which was actually a well-taught class…

  6. August 10, 2007 at 08:55 | #6

    Do you honestly think that overhead projectors are actually that different from PowerPoints?

    I think my complaints, and others, are not so much on the overhead themselves but how it seems the professors that use them have horrible writing, and crowd the hell out of the space they have.  That’s not to say PowerPoint would make them a genius, but I can read computer font.  Human font is sometimes trickier.  So yes, I guess it’s not the fault of the machine.

    To be honest, I don’t remember ever taking a class taught with a powerpoint which was actually a well-taught class…

    Your right here.  I actually had one class where the teacher effectively used PowerPoint.  It was Industrial Organizational Psychology with Dr. Binning.  The man was witty, smart, and new how to get across a message.  But was an anomaly for the most part.

    I still don’t see what the purpose of using the Overhead projector over a document camera is.

  7. August 10, 2007 at 17:14 | #7

    Update:  Maybe the Jesuits can help this guy.  Talk about being lost in an artificial world… he’s close to being a Talosian.  (irony intended)

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