Tuesday, February 20, 2007

More on Second Life

The UU World on-line edition has a story about the UU's of Second Life. My Avatar's picture is featured, and a few words from me as well. Find it Here While you're at it, check out this interesting on-line liberal magazine!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

What Does it Mean to be a Virtual Church?

What Does It Mean To Be A Church? - Click here for more blooper videos

Two minutes...well worth your time. (In the current version, yours truly is the person staring at her toes while the others are dancing. The dancing is programmed into the pillows, and mine wasn't working.)

Shlogged Again by Snow

Repeat after me: We Believe in Climate Change! We are reducing our Driving! We are reducing the number of freezers in our house! We are upgrading appliances and autos with energy thrift in mind! We are vacationing close to home!

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Enduring Psalms

All of my blogs have counters on them which tell me how many people have visited, where their ip server is, and what key words they used to find the site. I watched all this obsessively for the first few months after I started blogging, but it had been a while.

When I left my statistics, iMinister was getting between 10 and 30 hits a day, depending mostly on whether I had posted and, I think, whether Blogger had put it in the queue for the browsing public that day. More than half of the hits came from Albuquerque, and most were repeat visitors. My Psalm Blog, on the other hand, was getting three to ten hits a day, with occasional spikes, and a world wide audience.

So you can imagine my shock to discover that in the past few months, my Psalm blog, to which I've not posted since September, has slowly been gaining market share and now gets nearly twice the hits as iMinister. Most of those seem to be coming from Google searches for specific Psalms, words, or modern translations. Since most UU's don't Google Psalms, I'm assuming that most of my visitors are not UU's. Hopefully, they leave with a good impression.

The key words people use to find this site range from "Mary Oliver" to (I kid you not) "punched Arius in the nose."

That was St. Nicholas who did that, and I did, indeed write about this most unfortunate incident, which happened at the Council of Nicea, on the good Bishop's feast day in December.

In response to my astonishment that someone would look for information about St. Nicholas by Googling "punched Arius in the nose," my son informed me that this was a very sophisticated way to avoid the million Christmas pages that include St. Nicholas, and that this search technique is called "google-fu", like Kung fu, the art of getting what you want by subtle and indirect combat.

Learn something every day!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

UU Second Life on UTube

The amazingly creative guru of the UU church of second Life has made a two minute video of the church in action, making the point that "church" changes through the ages, the religious impulse remains and can be fulfilled in cyber church as well. Here's the link.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Spirituality in Second Life

I really am still researching Second Life. But only every other day, to prevent addiction.
It's very addictive. It's one of those things, for me, where I come home from work, sit down to play in SL for a little while, and the next thing I know it's midnight. It is good, I think, to have such a powerful pastime on one's life, as long as it doesn't take over.

The UU Church of Second Life is getting a lot of publicity, too. Apparently there will soon be an article in USA Today, and in a week or so in the on-line UU world. I was interviewed for the latter, and will make a link here when the story appears.

I volunteered to lead an in-world (second life world, that is) covenant group on Monday evening, instantly had 6 participants, and we had a discussion that left me with some insights. Hopefully the same for others. At the end, there were several attempts to get the Avitars to hug or hold hands, and it really felt good when we managed it. It was a very real connection we made in that hour, and they wanted to symbolize it with real movement. (they also wanted to go on talking, which presumably they did. I had to go.)

I was asked today what the spirituality of Second Life was, and what occurred to me is that there is a spirituality of good conversation and real connection with people, and that spirituality is not in the least dependent on whether the connection happens in person, by letter, or by playing with avitars in virtual reality. That real connection means that things like group moments of silence have all the extra power they do at church. Secondly there's a kind of analogy between Sl and Rl and Sl and spiritual reality that gives SL religious activities special power.

The entry into Second Life has a steep learning curve; moving, talking, creating, seeing...you have to learn to do it all. You are forever getting completely lost, your camera focused into nothingness, you can't tell the black sky from your black shoe, and on it goes. You're not often quite sure where you are or what you are supposed to be doing.

Learning to pray was a lot like that for me, actually. The Spiritual life is about as "virtual" as a world can come, and I'm mostly lost there, wondering what I am supposed to be doing, as well. Camera always out of focus. Steep learning curve. But in the end, a sense that, despite all appearances, it is really real.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Molly Ivins

"There are times a country is so tired of bull that only the truth can provide relief," she said, and she clearly thought that this was one of those times. She was one of the truth-tellers, and we need her, and she's gone.

Her last column, only two weeks ago, extolled us to remember that this is a democracy, that the people decide, that we voted against this war already. She wanted us to go to Washington for last weekend's march.

Dear God, we're going to miss her!

And, my condolences to her sister Sara Maley, a member of my congregation.