Evangelisation inside Second Life

The Legion of Mary presidium I’m part of has talked about the idea of doing crowd contact work inside Second Life, in pairs, as we would with real life crowd contact. It might be dangerous, so are referring it up to the Legion concilium, since it’s a new idea.

Has anyone had any experience of doing evangelism online? Is there a Catholic presence inside Second Life? Any tips? Anyone want to join in this apostolate?

What are you talking about??

I suspect DL82 is referring to the internet virtual world of Second Life and evangelizing within that realm.


Yes, for anyone not familiar with it, Second Life is a virtual world on the internet. We’re thinking of trying to do crowd contact work inside Second Life, two Catholics walk up to a virtual person inside Second Life, and evangelise. Since those virtual people represent real people, often real people who are trying to escape problems in real life, it might be worthwhile, what do you think?

OK, that is over my head, I have problems dealing with video games!

This is a topic I have been thinking about quite a bit. My husband and I are both Second Life members. He lives apart from me due to a temporary job assignment. In the past few months we have experienced both the good and bad sides of SL.

I have visited one SL site known as Catholic Now, which contains a virtual chapel and video and audio material on apologetics, devotions, etc. This site is very orthodox, but does not offer anything resembling Mass, the sacraments or church services so that there is no potential confusion about their validity or substituting for real life Mass attendance. There is also a virtual monastery known as Felix Meritis, in which you can rent “cells” and work in the monastery gardens and vineyard.

The thing to remember about SL is that people go there to explore things they are not able to do, or do not want to do, or may be afraid to do, in real life. Some of these things are evil (cyber sex, vampirism, violence, occultism). Others are morally neutral or good (sightseeing, sailing, mountain climbing, flying planes, attending virtual college classes, going to libraries or bookstores to listen to audio versions of classic literary works).

I think the trick to effective Catholic evangelization in SL is to present it in an honest, clear but non-threatening way, appealing to those who might be interested in the Church but are too shy or embarrassed or too worried about what their family, friends, etc. might think to explore it in real life just yet. If they feel free to explore it and ask questions in SL it might pique their interest and keep them coming back.

Personally I think offering demonstration Masses, devotions (Rosary, novenas) or sacraments in SL would be perfectly legitimate and an excellent way to evangelize, so long as it was clearly explained that these were not real-life, valid sacraments, but only a way to acquaint oneself with what to expect in real life.

It would also be useful for Catholic SL sites or evangelists to offer Catholics moral guidance about how to conduct oneself in SL, or how to deal with its effect on family life. (It can become quite addictive for some people) Some users might have questions such as: is it wrong to “marry” someone other than your real-life spouse in SL, or to have a virtual baby in SL without being “married”? Can you attend religious services of other faiths in SL, including non-Christian faiths?

I was pleasantly surprised to see some commentary on Catholic Evangelization in Second Life. The previous post mentioned the Catholic Now site and the recommendation to provide virtual sacramental participation e.g. the Mass. It is interesting to note that the owner Jesup M) of the site has a strong opinion against such a practice - considering it role playing. The consummate actions of a priest can not be fairly represented since there are no physical species of bread and wine to transubstantiated into the Body and Blood of Christ.

However, Jesup has conducted the Liturgy of the Hours for Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer. As well, he and my Second Life persona (avatar) conducted a Lectio Divina - Faith Sharing study during the Lenten Season. I led the prayer service as we prayed through the Lectionary readings for the Sundays of Lent.

Evangelisation does occur by other Christians as well as pagan or secular humanists. The virtual world is quite vast. I am currently reflecting on its impact to society as a whole and its reach to the world population. Having met many people, virtually, our conversations have covered a breath of topics including our connection to God and the science of the universe. I may post my reflections to this thread at a later time.

I signed up out of curiosity when I read the story about the woman divorcing her husband over SecondLife. Hahaha, what a strange and somewhat boring game. Though, I admit that I don’t care too much for video games.

It was a little funny eavesdropping on a conversation going on between two people. :smiley: First time I saw a conversation going on in a virtual reality world with computer microphones. When a character started talking to me, I thought it was one of those computer voices that speak typed words.

I hope this isn’t a foreboding of the future with all these virtual reality games and people in the same room texting each other. :bigyikes:

Just a word of of caution: a good many people in SL are into various types of sexual deviancy… a number are furrysexuals (dress up as or pretend to be anthropomorphic animals for sexual excitement), and everyone I’ve met who is a regular user of SL is pagan. I’ve seen as much pagan evangelization as anything. Mind you, my info is two years out of date, but the furry crowd was very prominent.

If you intend to do evangelization, it definitely CAN use it. Don’t expect it to be easy.

The owners are good about personal information not being available; they can’t stop the users from sharing their own, but the system doesn’t provide real world info. The physical risk is minimal.

:rotfl: WHY?

Because they are nucking futz! I don’t grock furrysexuality. I know several furrysexuals. I don’t get it. Really.

But I can tell you why they like SL: they finally can interact using a furry body image that matches what they want to look like to others.

Or they could be just eating nuts (and corn).

I’m somewhat familiar with online worlds, but have no idea what you mean that it might be dangerous! Can you explain?

As a Jew, my first reaction was: Please don’t, we hear enough in the real world! But then Secret Square made some very valid points, and one reason I’m here in the Catholic Forum is to talk to other people about their religions, so assuming you’re open to honest debate, and not just walking around yelling “Jesus Saves!”, then you might do some good.

I’ve placed Second Life for about ten months before I quit over boredom. From my personal experience, evangelization is a hit-or-miss deal in SL. Here’s why:

  • You have to pay for avatars
  • You have to know computer graphics to create objects
  • Catholic places aren’t popular
  • Pornography is rampant and very popular
  • Trolling (“griefing”) is quite common
  • SecondLife is less like a game and more like a virtual tour of people’s creations
  • Graphics and controls are not the best
  • People do meet through SecondLife
  • Interactions usually take place through roleplaying
  • SecondLife can get addictive

I have been completely immersed in Catholic on-line ministry for almost a year now. I discovered Second Life a few years ago when I was looking for free on-line games. I have to share this story because it continues to blow my mind.

I joined “role play” groups in Second Life where one pretends to be a warrior or something to that effect. In fact, I started as a sort-of viking style warrior with a bow and a sword. It was somewhat fun, but otherwise a waist of time for me.

I then joined an old-west group in a place called Tombstone, Arizona. Searching for a new identity in a place filled with pretend doctors, teachers, sheriffs, mayors, etc., I decided that being a role-play priest would be a good idea, so I did it.

Next thing you know, people are asking me when I am going to do services. So I struggled through some sort of disjointed liturgy using chat (typing text), which is the preferred communication medium on most of these role play sims in Second Life. Voice is not usually used in the role-play sims.

More people started to come because there obviously was some sort of need there.

I also met other role-play priests in others sims and we all struggled with how to apply the sacraments since, first of all, none of us were ordained, and secondly, we didn’t want to soil the gravity of any sacrament. In essense, we established a self-correcting/self-regulating system to apply doctrine in a world where doctrine has not yet considered. For example, it was determined that we would not pretend to give out the Eucharist during our role-play Mass. Some decided that they wouldn’t do role-play marriage ceremonies either, even though these marriages were obviously not real, nor of any legal value.

My system for providing services changed when I encountered a protestant service by this woman who streamed audio into the church where she was preaching. Not to be one-upped, I figured out how to do it myself.

So now I provide three services on Sunday at three different western-themed locations. My liturgy is pretty much identical to what a Lay Ecclesial Minister would give on sunday in the absence of a priest, so I do not say things that are reserved specifically for priests or deacons. I prerecord the whole thing using my voice and various music tracks in order to provide a quality listening experience. I also use automatic chat functions (called “gestures”) which allows me to send text to everyone so they can follow along and read. My avatar even has a few physical gestures to do the sign of the cross and so on. I get between 5 and 15 people at each of the services, and most of them aren’t even Catholic! I also built a pretty little monastery and chapel for my personal use.

I am always on the lookout to collaborate with other folks who do the same thing. If you’re on Second Life send a message to “Wid Shim.”

I also wanted to answer the original question regarding Legion of Mary evangelization inside Second Life. I too am a member of the Legion of Mary, but I don’t count contact on Second Life like I would in First Life. That’s just a personal preference.

Second life almost ruined my life. I think it is evil. For people like me…basically shut in, it starts out fine. A way to meet people and feel connected. BUT…there is a strong pull towards virtual sex and other sinful activities. It is extremely addictive for some people. I spent 2 years playing it every moment I could neglecting everything else in my life. I quit, rejoined, quit, rejoined…I went back looking for a Catholic presence and found a few really good Catholics trying to do things to help people learn about the faith. Virtual diocese, rosary, apologetics. But overwhelmingly I found virtual ‘churches’ offering confession, mass, priest and nun role play. FINALLY I left for good. Deleted my account. Stripped it from my pc. I just think there have to be other ways to lead people to Christ…

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