Thursday, February 15, 2007

More About FUUCSL

Yesterday I wrote about the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Second Life. It turns out that I'm not the only one. (No surprise there!) A colleague of mine, the Rev. Christine Robinson, who serves the First Unitarian Church of Albuquerque, has written a lot about this virtual congregation in her blog, iMinister. One of her recent posts goes into a fair amount of detail.

Today I also received an e-mail from the (one of the?) founder(s) of FUUCSL in which he wrote:
There is going to be an article published in USA Today next week about the church!!! One of the issues that the reporter, Cathy Grossman, Religion and Spirituality Correspondent, is going to cover is whether a virtual church can serve real spiritual needs. I can assure you that it does and Cathy interviewed several people from our church besides myself, including the Reverend Christine Robinson from Albuquerque and one of our members who is disabled and homebound and who has been able to reconnect to her spirituality through our church and who feels a calling to help others in her situation through online ministry.

Our oldest member of the church is 74 years old and he is an active participant. Many of our other members are in their 40s and 50s. Technology is certainly involved, but it is not so great that it cannot be overcome, as has been demonstrated by the multitude of people who show up at our virtual church who can barely figure out how to walk or sit down, but they do and they stay because of the welcoming, calming and spiritual atmosphere that we provide.

What rich potential there is in this new technology. There's potential for problems, of course, and much has been written and discussed about the danger of this kind of "virtual" community, about how it could lead to even further isolation and alienation, yet people report that they are finding real community there. And if people are going to spend hours upon hours in these virtual worlds, shouldn't we establish outposts of sane and salvific community?

By the way, in terms of stats: the FUUCSL has been in existence for about six months. In that time it has gained 180 members, it has well over 50 people who regularly attend worship , and its membership has doubled in the last two months. FUUCSL is already the second largest church in Second Life. It would be interesting to see how many of these folks are already UUs, or now seek out a brick and mortar UU church, and how many make this their only church home.

in gassho,


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Virtual Church

It seems that almost everywhere I turn these days I'm hearing about Second Life--the virtual "universe" that is taking our "real" world by storm. People are spending up to forty hours a week--and beyond--in this cyber reality. News organizations like Reuters and the Wall Street Journal now have reporters whose full-time beat is covering the goings on in this virtual reality.

And now, for those who say that they are too busy in Second Life to go to church, there is the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Second Life. Apparently they have worship services on Thursday nights and Saturday mornings. If you're interested, here is a link to a promtional video that gives a little flavor.

Who knows where this might lead, but people report that they really do find a real feeling of real community in places like this cyber world. Perhaps we'll one day have full service congregations--just like those brick and mortar churches we're already familar with--speaking to the needs of folks and of the wider Second Life world.

Yours in Gassho,


Thursday, February 01, 2007

This world is SO wonderful!

I sometimes--actually, with a fair bit of regularity--run across a story that reminds me how truly wonderful this life is. It's so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of my own existence, to begin to believe that what I experience is pretty much what life is like.

And then I hear about a guy like Paul Woods. He's the 44 year old man who's driving from Alaska to Virginia--a trip of more than 4,500 miles--on his Toro lawnmower! He's on his third engine, has only three of his original five gears, and can reach speeds of up to 15 miles an hour . . . when he's not weighed down by the grocery cart he's pulling as a trailer with his tent, his tools, some food, and his dog, Yoda. Oh, and he left in 2005!

Woods says that he was in Alaska caring for his mother, and that with her death he's now on an odyssey to claim the house (in Virginia) that she left him in her will. Why he's doing it on a lawnmower isn't reported in any of the news stories that pop up when you google this. (83 as of tonight!)

But I don't really care why he's doing it. What matters to me is that he is doing it--that somewhere out there there's a guy who's riding across the country on a lawnmower. With his dog in a shopping cart/trailer. And who's living a life I could not even begin to imagine.

What matters to me is that life includes so much more than what I'm experiencing, so much more than I'd ever be able to experience . . . yet it is being experienced! Life is so much more vast and wide than my little parcel, yet I am part of that vastness. My life is a part of the rich tapestry that is Life. Yours, too.

Isn't that wonderful?

in Gassho,