I've been mucking about in Second Life now for a few months.
I have had...and am still having... a good time in there too all things considered.
One of my more disheartening observations about SL though has been the total lack of other people of my Faith background!
Sure! There ARE "churches" in Secondlife but nearly everyone I have visited has been of the hyper fundamentalist pentecostal type (and no actual people)... or are empty "old fashioned" churches more for quaint pretty appearances than any real centres for gathering and meeting for fellowship and worship.
The closest I have come to feeling "at home" in a church in Secondlife is the Danish State Church's own SIM and not a lot of stuff there is actually in English and I've only met one other person there...and she was the Pastor! :)
The other day, a friend who calls herself "Archer", attended a Meditation session on the new SIM called "Owo Kun Meditation Resort". 39 people attended!!!!! This is a sort of meta-faith place with lots of old religions re-packaged and adapted to modern people who cannot accept the tenets or practices of the traditional christian church. It's probably easy to just classify it as 'New Age' but that seems unfair really.
You'd have to go to the public sex beaches to find that many people in one place in Second Life! (and yes I have gone to have a look at a public sex beach! Once to see it ...the second couple of times because I didn't believe it the first time! hahahaha)
In my own travels in the vast world of Second Life, I've met one person, in 6 months, for less than 3 minutes, who could be called another Christian like myself! That's pretty shocking when I think about it!
I am musing on why it is that my brothers and sisters of Faith would be so rare in Second Life. Here is a VAST canvas of potential for sharing and fellowshipping with like-minded Christians from around the globe...probably the first opportunity we have ever had to be able to meet with other Christians in real time from around the world we have ever had. But why don't we?
I am quite sure there are many, many Christians in Second Life! But I suspect that perhaps we are either too scared to admit we are of this faith, or we are really not that interested anymore in the traditional forms of expressing our Faith! Perhaps we are lapsed. Perhaps we just don't care enough. Perhaps we don't want to be "picked on" because of the assumptions of those outside of our Faith.
Let's face it...Christianity is NOT cool right now! In fact, it's downright silly given the idiocy of some of its proponents in seats of power and prestige!
Second Life demands a much, much more relaxed approach to Faith and its expression than any conducted in our mainstream churches in the past century or so. Second Life absolutely demands that one be very accepting and tolerant of a vast number of behaviours that would be considered "sinful" by many traditional Christians too...and that is hard!
Some of my Faith would suggest that I am being too "worldly" to engage in such activities as Second Life. That because there is so much "sinful" behaviour within its UI that its prudent to steer clear of it out of some pious sense of duty to being kept "pure" in the Name of Christ!
What a load of utter nonsense! How will Christ EVER mean anything to anyone if we aren't his eyes, his hands and particularly his ears in the places where the ordinary people HE LOVES congregate????
This xenophobic attitude in Christians is exactly the reason our faith is perceived as being on the decline!
But here is a huge ministry waiting to be tapped into! People in Second Life come to be enthralled, entertained and to meet with other people; to lose themselves inside a world similar but also interestingly different to their every day life. They don't want to be missioned, just accepted for who they are and how they present. They want to be private, but also connected. They want to play but also learn new things. They want to explore but also have their own creative ideas valued and understood.
A good part of the problem comes from the other side of Christianity too I think. For too long the Universal church is perceived as this declining entity of little use and purpose to the everyday man. Much of my faith is seen to be about obligations and that's just plain wrong and sad that its seen as such. And the Gospel literally doesn't make sense to people until they see it through the Spirit's Heart and eyes! Thing is...they can't do that unless they actually HEAR the Gospel and they won't want to hear it if they don't see anyone actually living it!
Its a dilemma!
The danger I see with Christianity coming to SL is that it will be the radical fundamentalist pentecostal sects who adopt SL as their harvest grounds! Yes! They are Christians but I do wonder sometimes at their marketing techniques in bringing people to faith! Sometimes, it seems more about preaching "Believe in this God and you can be rich like us" stuff to me.
Unfortunately, I don't ever see the reasonable, strange but very practical and lovely faith as made understood by dear old Martin Luther being The Next Big thing in SL. All of which makes me very sad, because such a place would make my Second Life even more useful and satisfying really.
I suppose I could always learn Danish though :)