Second Salvation

This is an update to my earlier report on Second Life. I had seen some press references to religion being an increasing use of Second Life. And being Sunday yesterday, I decided to see what I could find. I found an Alm CyberChurch there that holds services on Sunday morning. The people on that “island” are absolutely rabid about it. It’s not clear that the experience is significantly different than attending service in front of your TV on Sunday morning. but after the service, the people stay, mill about, and discuss what they heard. That aspect alone distinguishes this from televangelism, and makes it much more powerful. The people there really seemed to enjoy the experience. And I have a suspicion this could really catch on.

I did find some of the discussion a little disturbing, but not too surprising. The theme was basically how it was necessary to be a Christian in order to be a good person. The logic was typical, but wrong:

  • Being a true Christian means being a good person.
  • The good people I know are all Christian.
  • Therefore, being Christian is necessary to be good.

That simply doesn’t follow. A similar argument would be:

  • Being a good strawberry means being sweet and juicy.
  • All the sweet and juicy fruit I eat are strawberries.
  • Therefore, all sweet and juicy fruit are strawberries.

Clearly, if this is your belief, you need a more varied diet (and probably a remedial math class). I’m coming to believe this is one of the down sides of the U.S. being such a predominately Christian nation. People need exposure to other religions and philosophies. A narrower view is what enables us to get into religious conflicts like Iraq. But that’s another rant.

There’s also a Methodist Church I found, but no one was there. I also found an after church dance party at a cyber-club. There was line dancing and discussion of religious topics. All quite fascinating. Especially since in SL, you can dance like Travolta and still carry on conversations with the other patrons. From some of the people I spoke with, there is a growing Christian community within Second life.

I didn’t find too much evidence of other faiths there, but the search function has been flaky all weekend since the upgrade the host did last week. But I’d be surprised if they have emerged just yet. This is a predominately U.S. and European world at present, and that means mostly Christians.

One other community that seems well entrenched is Gorean culture. This isn’t really a religion as much as it is a pseudo SciFi fantasy world. But there is a culture and a philosophy behind it which is really interesting. I stumbled on one such city last week without a clue as to what Gor was all about. It has a primitive feel to it, but is supposed to be culturally enlightened. I’m not sure it really qualifies as that. While there is great complexity and history based on the 20-some novels written about Gor, it’s Second Life manifestation seems to be two-fold. There’s the warrior aspect. Battles using swords, bows, and staffs, typical of many RPGs. But the other aspect is the whole male/female relationship thing. Gor is a male dominated society, to the extent that many of the women are slaves. According to the novels, only about 3% of women are slaves. The rest are “free”, which basically means free to marry and bear children. But in SL, it would seem a vast majority of the women are slaves – by choice. Slaves are not acquired by conquest. A woman must voluntarily submit to a master to become his slave – and they do.

I spoke to one master and it was reasonably clear why guys get into this. There are battles to be fought, drums to beat, and slave girls to acquire. Okay, juvenile to be sure, but it computes. However, I don’t get it from the girls’ perspective. I spoke to a couple of the master’s slaves (with his permission). They do his bidding, which mostly seems to involve dancing for him. Their language is very deferential to him. They do not act without permission, and they always refer to themselves in the 3rd person. (That took a while to acclimate to all by itself.) The two slaves I spoke to said they loved their role and that they had always felt a need to be subservient. But other than this submissive posture, they seemed pretty normal. Maybe these sorts of girls exist out there in greater numbers than I imagine. Minimally, for those who say the feminist movement is dead, it’s clear that its work is not quite done yet.

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