Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Surprised by Second Life

Yes, it's a big surprise.

I've been appointed to the Leadership Team of the Anglican Cathedral in Second Life. It's a global ministry of Anglicans that come together in liturgical worship from the Books of Common Prayer from around the world, including the Episcopal Church, the Church of England, and the Church of New Zealand, and other provinces from across the Anglican Communion.

In fact, right now the Cathedral is sponsoring a Posada, where different organizations and individuals are hosting icons of Joseph and Mary as they make their way to the Cathedral in Second Life on Christmas Eve. This is bringing Christians together ecumenically from around the world. Only just today, the Anglican pastor of the cathedral gathered with a Lutheran pastor from Finland as we worshipped in this season of Advent together.

At the same time, Second Life is a dramatic mission field that reflects the reality of our fallen world. It is a mission field for evangelism - evangelism for a new millennium. (The photo above was taken during a recent Sunday Morning Prayer Service at the Anglican Cathedral in Second Life.)

If you want to learn more about the Anglican Cathedral in Second Life or the Anglican Ecumenical Society, which I am also a member of who's mission is to reach out ecumenically to other Christians in Second Life, check out their Facebook pages (here and here) and websites (here and here) or drop a note. This is where Real Life breaks in to Second Life - and people are meeting the Lord and finding their whole life changed.

But not only that, I am finding new opportunities to rebuild bridges that have been sadly burned here in the United States. American Episcopalians and American Anglicans are coming together in worship and building community in Second Life, a community that is based on prayer and studying the scriptures together and building up what was once torn down.

Yes, I'd say we're all surprised.

The two photos above are of the chapel I built in Second Life. It's called Ridley Chapel.

No, I never thought in a million years I'd learn how to do that.


Here's a replay of a report from the PBS Series, Religion & Ethics on the Anglican Cathedral in Second Life:




You can also read more online here, including interviews with folks I now call great friends. It still amazes me that they want me to join them - after all is said and done.

This one is for all of you wonderful, wonderful friends in Second Life - especially now when you have shown me such love and support in the loss of Uncle Bob this week. God bless you all - real life breaks through. Maybe we won't ever meet in Real Life, but we will meet One Day. This one is for you, all of you.



Here is the schedule of services for Advent and Christmas at the Anglican Cathedral in Second Life - come join us. And if you need help in learning how to enter Second Life, just let me know!

21 comments:

Floridian said...

Speaking of Second Life in another context, the ACNA held its first Provincial Council in Canada this week:
http://transfigurations.blogspot.com/2009/12/acna-communique-from-first-annual.html

Caoilin Galthie said...

BB,
Thank you for your insightful comments on our mission in Second Life. I think that in some ways you and I are on opposite sides of the struggles that the Anglican Communion is going through, but I have enjoyed the times we have been able to worship together in Second Life. But in the end, we are on the same side in that we both proclaim Christ and gather around the table together to share in worship and fellowship in spite of our differences on some of the ways we live out our faith.
I look forward to more bridge building with you!
Caoilin

Chaz Longstaff said...
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BabyBlue said...

It is clear that there is much in SL that is hungry for the Good News of Jesus Christ. I would be cautious that "conversation" does not denote "commendation." There is much I find in SL to be alarming, especially as it actually reflects the American culture where SL was born. This includes within the community of the Anglican Cathedral of SL which cannot escape the incompatible theologies that are tearing the wider communion apart.

It is my hope and prayer that we may find a better way, especially in how SL can provide a rather unique platform for conversation.

The Posada visited some communities in SL that I found to be quite offensive, actually. But Jesus does that - He goes where ever He's received and no one is left unchanged. No one. May it be so for us all.

bb

Chaz Longstaff said...
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Chaz Longstaff said...
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BabyBlue said...

The point is that we're in conversation - and that's the point. I am trying.

bb

Chaz Longstaff said...
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BabyBlue said...

I don't recall saying that I find the Anglican Cathedral troubling - I don't find it troubling, I love the community there. What we have in SL is the best and worst of American culture and that is a fact. And the Church - in SL and RL - cannot remain untouched by the best and worst of American culture.

bb

Chaz Longstaff said...
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BabyBlue said...

The one that advocated that immoral behavior was holy. I don't remember the name. Sorry.

bb

Anonymous said...

Chaz,

No need to make such a fuss here, you're not even quoting BabyBlue correctly. What's the rush to reveal the orientation of the person & business responsible for the ad? And is it possible BabyBlue might not want to point the finger here, yet make the point that Jesus went to spots that are a bit "offensive" ... however we want to take this word? I visited the Posada at a spot where a woman was dancing with a dude with her top off, just a few metres away from the Posada - if I find this challenging to my sense of propriety, am I sinning in the "inclusiveness" department and thus up for a round of inquisition regarding my views and exactly what it was which made me less than comfortable? Do I then have to point out which person it was, thus likely causing more scandal with the poor woman feeling someone is "pointing a finger" at her? I think it would be better to mention the incident without naming her, and perhaps take pleasure, as BabyBlue does, that Christ goes places which some, including myself, might find offensive.

ZR most certainly isn't saying here she finds the Cathedral "troubling," so I'm kind of wondering what got this bee in your bonnet? It's just that ... the incessant questioning/inqusiting and misquoting seems to make your "Welcome to our inclusive community" sound, after the fact, a bit more like a rhetorical ... bludgeon into adopting your own definition of "inclusive," and a sexual ethic which means departing from the mind of the Communion - since you are bringing up orientation issues out of the blue. I'm used to seeing all kinds of rhetorical bludgeoning going on in the US branch of the Communion ... but I'd sort of hope that our inclusiveness wouldn't be quite so inclusive as to include that, and that we'd rather strive for the more peaceful variant of Anglicanism elsewhere.

I imagine that that was not the intent, and that you'll see that you misread something above, and that it's not deliberate misquoting, and that the gay person and business involved with the ad didn't do so in order to "make a statement" but simply because they support the Cathedral.

I'm very happy that the gay person who made this ad feels welcome at the Cathedral. I'm happy, too, that he didn't feel the need to bring up orientation issues in his design of the Posada ad. I hope in the future we're able to simply inclusively enjoy each others' fellowship without bringing up issues which have proven so divisive in the Communion and in the United States especially.

I usually try to avoid bringing up issues regarding sexual orientation, since I know this is divisive. Don't you think this is a good policy, since we have so many members from a province whose notion of orientation inclusion differs from the rest of the Communion, and we can all worship together without drawing attention to orientation issues, since otherwise our TEC members would likely feel less comfortable and less a part of us?

In my experience, the more orientation issues are brought up, the more likely a situation arises where LGBT people feel pointed at. And I would really like to avoid this.

Chaz Longstaff said...
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Chaz Longstaff said...
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BabyBlue said...

I haven't deleted any posts, Chas. Here at the cafe, people are free to toss pancakes and popcorn as much as they like. It's the cream pies that causes our resident giant, Hagrid, to lift himself from his table by the door and toss the rambunctious one out the door. As far as I can tell, Hagrid has snoozed through this one.

As for anon comments, we love our anons here at the Cafe. In fact, we'll have the 4th Annual Cafe Anons Ball on Shrove Tuesday where we will be flipping the pancakes and playing the tunes through the evening, so stay tuned. Anons are welcome, as they would be in any cafe - as long as they don't wake Hagrid up.:)

Thanks for posting.

bb

Anonymous said...

Chaz,

Anonymous here again.

I'm sorry you are being brought into this mess of the Communion, I don't know what your church background is, and I'm sure that if you're gay (I had a quick google of your name), there would be things in TEC which would be attractive to you. Nonetheless, I choose to remain anonymous here - I am one of the people who is fearful for what TEC seems to be doing to Christology, and frankly, rather astounded at the little thought which seems to have gone into this. I think it's a story of decennia of neglect of basic theology and scriptural studies, combined with some rather nasty books put out classified as "theology" which, in the 80's, just about everyone recognized as nasty ... but have become a bit in vogue, I think, since the author supported gay clergy ... though I can understand that people for this reason would like to "support" him - what I don't get is why vituperation is supported when the guy is "on the right side." I.e. - Fred Phelps was an important civil rights activist decades ago, representing many black people pro bono - I don't see black people lining up to support him - but TEC people are still very supportive of this guy. The vituperation really isn't the problem with him, it is the loathesome Christology which is the biggest problem.

And this is all stuff which is likely completely foreign to you.

I don't want to get caught up in the flame wars which are going on in the States, I've even seen TEC clergy threatening other clergy with calling social services regarding their children, inspired, it seems, mostly just because of their position regarding TEC. I hope you see here that I'm not taking a position. But since this thread has begun bringing up orientation issues and I'm not exactly sure if you are someone who is ... a TEC loyalist supporter, I also want to remain under anonymity - I've been attacked before, addressing Christology issues in TEC, for being "biggoted" and "homophobic" when I hadn't breathed a word about sexual ethics issues. And I don't want to draw undue attention to myself.

But I am incredibly saddened that I have these suspicions as well and would vastly prefer a situation in which there was enough trust for me to say, "hi, I'm ...".

Can you begin to see why I think it's best that the Cathedral do what it can to dissuade its congregants from overtly drawing attention to their own orientation, or from things which are likely to draw orientation issues to the fore?

If not, that's ok ... for yourself though ... enjoy fellowship. If we end up becoming embroiled in sex talk à la TEC, we will likely suffer the same fate - relative isolation from other churches, splitting, flame wars, deception, perhaps even lawsuits.

This is part of the "mind of the Communion" on the matter of human sexuality:

the Communion "calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals, violence within marriage and any trivialisation and commercialisation of sex;"

We want to keep this "inclusiveness" in mind at all times.

On the other hand ... if this important resolution is cast into doubt ... we'd also be losing this "inclusiveness" and open the gates to doubting whether openly gay people should be coming into the church at all. And I most certainly don't want that.

Anonymous said...

more ...


If you feel called to bring up orientation issues, describe our community as "inclusive" (meaning ... I suppose ... that other Christian communities are NOT inclusive) ... this is going to be a tough road for you, and most importantly: it may very well bring you more bitterness, than it does growth in faith. I do not want this for you or any of our gay members. Yes, there is controversy elsewhere in the Communion. But can't we set this controversy aside? I do think courting controversy here is one of the worst things we could do for the LGBT amongst us right now. We can tend to their spiritual needs best by treating them as we treat all Christians. We needn't draw attention to differences between what some churches do teach or don't teach regarding homosexuality, in order to do God's work amongst those with us.

I hope no one at the Cathedral mistreats you because you're gay, and were things more peaceful in TEC ... I wish I could give you my name as one of the first people to contact, if you were mistreated - I have seen this happen only once, and I said something to the chap involved which inspired him to teleport away.

But strangely enough I have seen a LOT of hetero-bashing at the Cathedral, and lots of Catholic bashing, Baptist-bashing, etc. etc., mostly from folk describing themselves as "inclusive." In response to this I usually do - nothing. I only protect the gays, not the Baptists or Catholics. This is a reason why I have some problems with "inclusive" - it seems to mean, "favoring people with a particular agenda." I do not want my protection of gays and lack of concern over Baptists and Catholics to make us become ... a rather exclusive little ideologically-colored joint. I want the Baptists and Catholics, too. And ... these are not gay-bashing Baptists or Catholics, just so you know (I know there is so much fear of gay-bashing, but as I've mentioned ... I've only seen it once at the Cath, and I dealt with it).

Chaz, you did NOT say this, and I do not want to paint you in this way. I simply want you to see my concerns here. And I have never heard you Catholic-bashing or Baptist-bashing.

Maybe we can find a less TEC-ish word than "inclusive," since "inclusive" has become so "aggressive"? Perhaps we can simply "enjoy the fellowship of the saints?"

Anonymous said...

more ...

I need to say here, when I refer to TEC I mean largely the leadership, and I don't mean Episcopalians. On-sim I don't tend to speak much of TEC, as that is such a bleak topic. I realize I open myself to criticism here for "TEC-bashing" while describing my issues with TEC Christology etc., but I'm afraid that here, that's just too much of a reality - there are real problems in the Communion with what is going on in TEC, and just about every one of our Communion's various meetings in the last decade has involved hand-wringing attempts at trying to do something about this. What boggles my mind is the pretenses of the leadership of TEC of its being "inclusive," and the results this has at our sim when it comes to people describing Baptists and Catholics. I'm hoping for a situation at the Cathedral which is able to transcend the stuff we're now seeing happening in TEC.

There are Episcopalians who are very much committed to good Christology - and I must say of our Cathedral's own leadership who are from TEC (the Cathedral started out with about half TEC people on the leadership team) - they are fine, gracious people, and they're often good at stimulating Catholics and Baptists to say their thing, without prejudicial remarks. Most trouble has been with sim visitors or people in the congregation - in the early days we made something of a name for ourselves, it seems, as being people who simply don't care about church teachings, and are more intent on criticizing things right and left with cheap potshots. We have come a long way ... and I think we are getting a lot closer to being "truly inclusive." Or rather ... a community that engages in real fellowship.

Chaz Longstaff said...
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Anonymous said...

Chaz,

I'd advise you suggest to those communities that there were multiple misunderstandings here. It escapes me why, when it is clear that misunderstandings are abundant, you are contacting other posada communities to inform them of this single comment which has produced more and more and more comments, unless you yourself feel offended and are seeking some kind of solace and sense of solidarity with these other communities you contacted.

I am sure that if ZoeRose wished to let a community/communinities know that they had offended her, she would do so herself, and don't believe you need to do this for her. Because ... a sense of "offense" was merely mentioned as an aside ... and after what appears to be a bit of hectoring.

I don't like it when gays are badgered, but I don't like it when heteros are badgered either. I do hope you can appreciate that.

Now I won't badger you, to get you to reveal which communities you've "been speaking with" on this regard, I think it's best that it's silently dropped. "Someone I'm speaking with" wants to know why a guy selling sex furniture on his profile is making such a big deal out of ZoeRose's having found some places offensive, as one might sort of expect this if one make's money from cheap sex, and in sort of a Larry Flintish kind of way, simply let those who feel offended, feel offended, without opening up an inquiry / inquisition regarding it ... but then again, I also don't wish to draw too many conclusions about your sales activities and won't go badgering you there either.


There are plenty of people who come to the Cath, who are valued members, who, in SLish manner, want to "push the line" a bit - and "playfully" - do things which end up associating the Cathedral with things which others don't find appropriate. I know one person who sometimes comes to the Cathedral ground announcing that she's dressed in bodypaint. etc. etc.. I'm sure the Leadership Team decided that it would be interesting to just let the Posada go where it would go, without doing a lot of checking about what that environment was like where it would be. And yes, people are then officially invited by the Cathedral to go visit it ... and may be offended, since the Posada is associated with the Cathedral - and might, as in my example, feel it's not a good idea to have the Cathedral sending people to a spot where there's topless dancing. The Cathedral still has to shake some difficult history from long ago of an incident where a leader published something very very stupid about sex, and ended up offending a few of the other Christian sim leaders. We also have to consider them, as ecumenical relations are important ... not so much now, as for the future.

I don't think we need some kind of inquest as to what exactly might have offended ZoeRose led by a purveyor of sex furniture, somehow that just doesn't strike me as a good idea for Cathedral relations, and I do hope that you, in a sense of gentlemanly toleration, don't mind that things might offend her, which don't necessarily offend you. I am, however, open to considering other options by which we might continue to heckle ZoeRose, bring them up in this thread and we'll discuss them.

On a more serious note ... if you have difficulties with ZoeRose, why not just contact her in person instead of submitting them to a public thread?

Anonymous said...

Look ... I am guessing that part of the "undertone" here might be - you'd like the Cathedral to somehow "become more inclusive" - i.e., in some way, indicate publicly that it is in encouragement of some sorts of LGBT behavior - while it doesn't. We've seen that done before at the Cathedral, in subtle, indirect manners. I understand you may be really passionate about this, and feel that it's the only just thing to do. But ... that kind of debate is not a place I'd like to go, for multiple reasons - the Communion has a stated teaching regarding areas in sexuality, though two provinces aren't really accepting it - and opening this debate is likely to make the atmosphere at the Cathedral less friendly for everyone - especially LGBT people. I also don't want the "Concerned Christian Brigade" to start wearing tags indicating that they think we should have another look at our policy and practices, or encourage subtle, indirect activism on their part. That just wouldn't be very helpful for LGBT people.

I could be wrong, perhaps this isn't in any way a subtle hint to ZoeRose & her readers that there are people who'd advocate changing the Cathedral's policy or actions.

BTW, in googling you I also found some stuff on the elevator company you have in SL, and it looks like you have done some truly wonderful work here, I am rather digging what I see of your elevators. You & Duke Magneto are really fantastic at what you do. I'm curious so I'll drop by sometime and check out these wonderful creations you guys have made.