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This blog participates in the 1st Second Life Bloggers Mix’n Match event.
More info on this is available here and here. Check the previous post to find out who will discuss the topic I gave to the pool, and where it will be posted.
An overview list of all participating blog posts can be found here.
*** *** *** Religion in Second Life® *** *** ***
My first thoughts when discovering I was to write a blog post on religion in Second Life was “I’m glad I don’t have to write about fashion”. Over a year ago, I attended Quaker meetings in Second Life, and felt calm and at peace at those meetings, much like I did when attending church in the real world. I have therefore been aware of the presence of religions in Second Life, but I have never researched them properly.
As well as real world religions in SL, I am also interested in the creation of new religions, that are purely in world. I had heard about the First Church of Rosedale, but had never looked into it. Since I’m writing this post, now is a good time to see what is around.
My starting point was to type “religion” into the search box. This resulted in a list of different places to visit, and I started with the Our Lady of Peace cathedral, on the Marigot sim. I arrived to discover a Catholic cathedral,
which looked realistic both inside and outside. The priest was there, and I asked him a few questions about the cathedral. The cathedral itself is not connected to a real world church, but it has daily services. notecards with
Catholic prayers, and other items required for a church. Father Medhi Bury was welcoming, and it would be a good starting point for someone wanting to see what a Catholic church is like.
Next on the list is IslamOnline.net Virtual Hajj. The pilgrimage to Mecca is a very important part of the Islamic religion, and it is an obligation for every Muslim to carry it out at least once in their lifetime.
As I am not a Muslim, I am not allowed to visit the real world Mecca, so going to a virtual representation is very exciting. The sim has information points guiding you around the pilgrimage, and tells you how to carry it out. This is something I wasn’t expecting, but being able to learn about one of the Pillars of Islam in such an interactive way shows how Second Life can be used to show those who may not otherwise have the opportunity.
Back to Christianity, and I discover that the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints (Mormons) have a large presence in Second Life. There are several places to visit, and you are able to find out more about the religion, the book of Mormon, and go to prayer groups. One day I may explore these places further, but for now I will continue to see what else is around.
On the Livingtree sim, there is a Wiccan Information Center. Unlike some of the other places I have visited, this isn’t a place for worship, but it does give information about Wicca. There are several books (that give notecards) and an alter with each item giving a notecard explaining what it is and it’s use. For anyone with an interest, this is a useful place.
The final place I visited on my exploration of religions in Second Life is the First Church of Rosedale. A purely inworld religion, the First Church of Rosedale was started by Samantha Poindexter and is a parody of real world
religions. To members, Philip Linden is God and Torley Linden is his prophet. The building looks like a chapel, and with Samantha Poindexter as pastor then it appears to run like any other church, though with obvious differences in what they actually believe.
I would like to have spent more time in the exploration of this subject. It is obvious from just the couple of hours I spent in world looking that there is a lot to learn, both about real life religions with their presence in the virtual world, and with the virtual religion of the First Church of Rosedale. The virtual Hajj was definitely the high point, as it’s something I’ll never be able to experience in the real world.
The other use for religion in Second Life could be so that those who are members of real world religions could attend in world if for whatever reason they could not attend their real world services. I am unsure how explored this is in Second Life (the Quaker meeting place I used to attend doesn’t exist any more). This is certainly a topic that could be studied far more in depth, but for now may your deity (if any) watch over you.
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