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SimChurch 606

Roland Piquepaille writes "It's Sunday and some of you might go to a church. But starting on May 11, and for a duration of three months, you'll be able to go to a virtual church. Only the building, with its altar and pews, will be virtual. The preacher, congregation and prayers will be real, according to this BBC News article, 'Glimpse inside the virtual church.' This experiment is launched by a Christian website, Ship of Fools, and will be named Church of Fools. Even with such a foolish name, the virtual church project has been approved by the church hierarchy. This overview contains other details and references about the Church of Fools project."
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  • WWJD? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by monstroyer ( 748389 ) * <devnull@slashdot.org> on Sunday April 18, 2004 @06:29PM (#8899706) Homepage Journal
    I'm torn.

    On one hand, as a coder, sitting in front of the computer for hours on end I can attest to the meditative state the computer puts me in. I'm not a practicing catholic, but was raised one. Church never really had me contemplating as much as the cathode ray bombarding my brain with it's "green soothing light does". Of course i was a child.

    On the other, if this virtual church has "pop up ads" and a whole other pile of garbage, what would jesus do? I mean in the bible he got angry [ubcaustin.org] because the holy place was being disrespected, because the spiritual was being commercialized, because the Temple was being desecrated by those who kill the holy and sell it...

    Is this a joke?
    • Re:WWJD? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 18, 2004 @06:42PM (#8899788)
      It's supported by "tithe" provided by some sort of internet money transfere service (paypal, etc).

      So no, it's not being "desecrated."

      I find the idea rather interesting. It's a decent step above those televised churches. You can actually ask people questions online. So, if it works for some people, more power to them, IMHO.
    • Re:WWJD? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Grey Ninja ( 739021 ) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @06:47PM (#8899822) Homepage Journal
      I'm not religious in the slightest. But I suppose if there were popups abound on the site, it would show once and for all that Mozilla is the holier browser. ;-)
    • WJWD (Score:5, Interesting)

      by KalvinB ( 205500 ) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @07:01PM (#8899923) Homepage
      Instead of putting up a virtual church, Jesus would go to those people's houses who couldn't otherwise go to church, and personally worship with them.

      That's What Jesus Would Do.

      Of all the non threatening social situations, I can't imagine a less threatening atmosphere than a church.

      But who knows, maybe this will find it's niche.

      As long as they don't junk it up with ads and demand membership fees or whatnot the only problem I see with it is that the internet is a wire monkey. It's bad to depend on the internet for your social fix. Real life person to person interaction is necessary. And of all the places to avoid it, church isn't it.

      I also have to wonder how they're going to deal with trolls.

      • Re:WJWD (Score:5, Insightful)

        by timmyf2371 ( 586051 ) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @07:51PM (#8900151)
        I do think this could be a success, especially with people like myself.

        I used to be a regular churchgoer however nowadays I find it difficult to go to my church - mainly due to my lifestyle and not actually being awake when a church service is on, and also lack of motivation. However, this is something I definitely intend to try - on a personal level, I'd much rather be a true Christian rather than not and going to church, with the social atmosphere, is part of that - I believe this is something that would help people, both like myself, and also those who would never try a church.

        • Re:WJWD (Score:5, Insightful)

          by uptownguy ( 215934 ) <UptownGuyEmail@gmail.com> on Sunday April 18, 2004 @10:06PM (#8900801)
          I find it difficult to go to my church - mainly due to my lifestyle and not actually being awake when a church service is on, and also lack of motivation

          ...I can't believe I am actually going on record as saying this -- but if you dig around a little, you'll be surprised at the number of different church services that are out there to cater to your schedule. For instance, I've recently started going to an independent church that is affiliated with a larger one that has its services on Sunday night at 5:30PM... no matter when I'm working or what I've been doing the night before, it is hard for me to miss 5:30 PM...

          ...now, as for the lack of motivation...well, that is a much deeper question, isn't it? (i.e. I know people who have spent weeks/hundreds of dollars tracking down rare CDs/DVDs/video game imports. I'm not questioning your committment... I'm just saying that if you really want to do something, you can usually find a way...)
        • Re:WJWD (Score:3, Insightful)

          by killjoe ( 766577 )
          Man that's rich. Your faith is not strong enough to get you up to go to church so you schedule your worship around your schedule. Why not just pay somebody to pray for you?

          Disclaimer: I am an atheist. I really don't get this thing at all.
        • Re:WJWD (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Micah ( 278 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @01:21AM (#8901649) Homepage Journal
          As the previous poster said, there are quite a few churches that cater to odd schedules. My church back home [salemalliance.org] has a 5:00PM service, which was always great because I'm a hardcore night person and hate getting up early. Sometimes even getting up in time for their 11:15 service was torture. :)

          But there's a deeper problem. If your church is solely online, you will be missing out on a lot. Jesus never intended for Christians to be isolated apart from each other. Sure, you can get your Bible study and preaching over the Net or TV, and you can worship in your house to a Sonicflood or Third Day or Petra CD, but you don't have people to check up on you when you're sick, invite over for dinner, keep you accountable, pray for you, discuss the Bible with, etc.

          You NEED other flesh-and-blood believers near you. Note that that doesn't necessarily need to be a formal church. A group of people simply committing to follow Christ where they are and keep each other accountable is good enough.
      • *boggle* (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Fished ( 574624 ) <amphigory.gmail@com> on Sunday April 18, 2004 @08:44PM (#8900426)
        Of all the non threatening social situations, I can't imagine a less threatening atmosphere than a church.
        I have to wonder when the last time was that you were IN one!

        Churches can be downright mean, especially if you manage to violate the mores of a particular congregation in some heinous fashion such as wearing a short-sleeved shirt or singing off key. Where else do you go where, when you come in, you're asked to stand up in front of a couple of hundred people so they can all get a good look at you?

        Note - I love the church. In fact, I'm an itinerant preacher and may be a pastor pretty soon (i.e. as soon as God forces me to give up my rather nice salary in tech in order to serve his people full-time.) But let's not try to pretend that churches are non-threatening.

        • Last Sunday (Score:5, Insightful)

          by KalvinB ( 205500 ) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @08:58PM (#8900487) Homepage
          going again this Monday since they have an evening service for college students.

          "But let's not try to pretend that churches are non-threatening."

          Churches are as non threatening as Pastors allow them to be. I havn't dressed up for church in a very long time. Years. In fact every monday there's a very rugged looking guy who comes in who knows pretty much everybody.

          "Where else do you go where, when you come in, you're asked to stand up in front of a couple of hundred people so they can all get a good look at you?"

          At church, the only one you should be paying attention to is God and His Word. If all you're interested in is the fashion show and vocals of the people around you, you might as well just stay home.

          Sounds like you're working for and attend a very hyporitical church that's more worried about looks than spirituality.

          So yes, Church is the most non-threatening social environment there is. If a church isn't, then it isn't a church you should be going to.

          "as soon as God forces me to give up my rather nice salary in tech in order to serve his people full-time"

          So, as soon as he forces you to stop being greedy?

          God's not in the habit of forcing people not to do things. Sounds like your church has a lot of serious issues that need to be dealt with and you're more interested in a good pay check and denying serious problems exist playing it off like they're normal, than dealing with them.

          Your church is not normal. It's broken. I can't believe you're a pastor even part time if you can't see this and see what's wrong with it.

          Maybe everyone would be better off if you weren't the pastor so that someone else with better bearings on what a church should be can run the place and fix it.

          • Re:Last Sunday (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Troy ( 3118 )
            Let's try very very hard not the be judgemental of churches that we really know nothing about and people that we barely know, shall we? If you've never been hurt and frustrated by a church community, then consider yourself blessed. However, every church, being filled with broken people, will have a social dimension that sometimes falls short of Christ's example.

            It happens...in every single church, bible study, and prayer group on the planet and people get damaged in the process. You may think that your chu
          • by poemofatic ( 322501 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @04:16AM (#8902275)
            The import thing to realize is that a church, like any other social group, has certain mores and conventions -- typically they are inherited from the ambient cultural group.

            Example1: Jesus didn't say anything about homosexuality, but he did mention that remarriage after divorce was a sin, and that the resulting relationship was adulterous. However, most churches today are OK with divorced couples marrying, having sex, and having a family, but they are not ok with gay sex or marriage. The difference is the cultural norms in their surrounding community have accepted one, but not the other. As soon as gay marriage becomes overwhelmingly accepted, it will be treated in the same way as divorce and bans on interest bearing loans.

            Example2: The Southern Baptists split with the Northern Baptists over slavery. You can guess which baptist congregation thought it was a sin, and which one thought it wasn't. Both had scriptural arguments.

            Example3: The U.S. is a society which focuses on individual success resulting from individual action (e.g. hard work, clean living.) Other cultures are more focused on collective success and collective responsibility (e.g. good schools, effective legal system, social welfare.) Therefore the U.S. churches "spiritualize" this bias by focusing on individual sin/repentance (being personally saved), as opposed to group sin/repentance (social justice), although one must look for relatively rare discussion of the former in the scriptures, since almost all exhortations in the old and new testaments, revolve around the latter. Indeed, most American Christians would consider it discrimination to be punished for something which they didn't individually do, but did* as a group, whereas the Bible is filled with examples or promises of group punishments (punishment of a race, of a generation, of a city.)

            Now, getting back to the original point, if you find yourself not sharing the mores of your church (i.e. you think interest bearing loans are cruel exploitation, or you are gay) then your positions will be opposed in the church, as they would in the larger community. However, the *difference* is that opposition in the church is often interpreted as "God disagrees with you" which, to a sincere believer, is much worse than the community disagreeing with him. Indeed each church believes, although there is a long history of previous churches in other cultures gettings things wrong, that *now* the truth is revealed, and *they* have the correct word of God.

            And, adding to this ostracism phenomenon, is that we have a very fragmented culture, broken up into many little pockets, each of which have different mores, and so the odds are good that the church you randomly pick will not share your views. Finally, people move a lot, and so can easily find themselves in a place where there is no church that they feel they can go to, and still remain a sincere believer, without a lot of inner tension.

            In this way, *every* church is threatening.

            And there is no real solution, but it's certainly a step backwards to classify a church as "bad" if someone says it's threatening, since this just perpetuates the assumption that some church subcultures (e.g. adultery ok, homosexuality not ok) are better than others ("committed" homosexuality ok, adultery not ok.) The reason why this can't be the case, is that all of the subcultures are formed out of confused, fallen people, and then each church inherits the mores of it's ambient group. For instance, Jesus, when discussing adultery, made the point "This is wrong, but you were too weak, so Moses let you grant a certificate of divorce. Nevertheless, it's adultery. In fact, even wishing to have sex with a married woman is adultery." So basically each church makes allowances for accepting "sinful" behavior that is predominant in the community, and does not accept "sinful" behavior that is on the margins.

            The only recommendation I have is to do some work and find a church that you can live with. In a major urban area, this should b
        • Re:*boggle* (Score:3, Interesting)

          by johnalex ( 147270 )
          I'm not waiting for God for "force" me to give up a rather nice salary in tech to serve full time: I'm praying He'll make it possible.

          I've already been through the experience of receiving a calling from a cushy academic computing job to go to seminary. Now that I've been in seminary for 3 years, I don't think I can ever see myself working full-time in computing again, even if I do love these infernal machines. I'm working part-time in tech now to support my family while I study. Hopefully, my current pasto
        • Re:*boggle* (Score:3, Insightful)

          As a boy I was small for my age, and often beat up. The guidance counceler's opinion was that I should punch back.

          It is a leader's responsibility to maintain a healthy environment. At our church our pastor had to put his foot down. Yes, we lost some long-time parishoners. They liked the status quo. They were the beneficiaries of the exclusive club. At the rate they were going they were going to be the only ones there, but they didn't care.

          After the smoke cleared, the church became a place that welcomed

    • Re:WWJD? (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      OMG if teh Je5u5 wz all liek popup sutff id be all like "teh b00tz off my serv0rzs d00dz" cuz i hat3z teh wallhax0rx!!!!!!11
    • Re:WWJD? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Troy ( 3118 ) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @07:13PM (#8899984)
      Ship of Fools is supported through donations and have a track record of being conscientious about doing things ethically. I seriously doubt that they would tolerate popup ads on what is intended to be a kind of sacred space.

    • Re:WWJD? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 18, 2004 @07:24PM (#8900035)
      I don't know what Jesus would do, but most Catholics would show up at a real church since communion is a big part of church.
  • Have to wonder (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ckwop ( 707653 ) * <Simon.Johnson@gmail.com> on Sunday April 18, 2004 @06:30PM (#8899709) Homepage
    I'm not a religious man myself but I wonder how successful this will be.
    I mean, i thought that meeting up in church wasn't just about the worship
    but was about the social interaction with others - the feeling of unity with
    your peers. How can an "SimChurch" emulate that side of it?

    Watching a webcast or something like it just isn't the same. Anyone who's watched the BBC program "songs of praise" will back me up on that one.

    • Re:Have to wonder (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 18, 2004 @06:36PM (#8899743)
      the feeling of unity with
      your peers. How can an "SimChurch" emulate that side of it?

      Depending on the person, it won't.

      However there's a whole world of intensely physically limited people, those with agorophobic disorders, panic/anxiety/social phobias, people who're unwell and incapacitated, the people who just CAN'T get out for some period of time in their life. I'm no churchgoer myself, but it keeps many people comforted. I see those groups benefitting.
      • Re:Have to wonder (Score:3, Insightful)

        by globalar ( 669767 )
        There is a kind of community here on /. and there are plenty of other examples on the Internet. True, I don't feel very united, but there are some common beliefs (open source, free speech, etc.).

        This cannot replace a physical church, but I don't see anything flawed with establishing a community online. I think most of us want to be a part of something. As long as there is a way for people to become involved, it's a community.
        • Now I have this image of the Church of Linux.

          We'd start the service by singing "Descramble", take a reading from the book of Linus, a preacher would then preach about the evils of using Windows and how all those who used it would be thrown into the pit of Blue Screens at the day of reconing. The preacher will then bless the holy chips and sacred Jolt cola (for those are the substances the Linus lived off of during the 40 days and nights that he wrote the kernel), and we'd have a kind of communion. The p

    • by nkh ( 750837 )
      If I were the preacher, I would be more scared about how much script kiddies would come to deface this virtual church. I really hope he is aware of what can happen on the Internet these days...
    • Re:Have to wonder (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tomboy17 ( 696672 )
      Actually, I think online communities can do a very good job creating social interactions with others, but from the images in the story, it sounds like their interface isn't going to do much good -- bells & whistles that will be slow on old machines and are unlikely to scale up well.

      People online communicate best the way people unable to see or speak to one another always have -- via written language. Limiting written interaction to "speech bubbles" in a cartoon church seems a pretty foolish way to crea
    • Re:Have to wonder (Score:3, Insightful)

      by chazwurth ( 664949 )
      I think there's a lot of potential for real feelings of unity and other social 'emotions' in online communities, depending on how they're structured. I can tell you this much: in the past, I (err, my character?) have been a part of communities in online text-based RPGs, and those communities have felt extremely real. We all cared about one another, we hated our enemies, we spend absurd amounts of time supporting one another (which is why I stopped), etc. What made it work is that we all cared about what we
    • Re:Have to wonder (Score:2, Insightful)

      by logique ( 600113 )
      I'm not a religious man myself but I wonder how successful this will be. I mean, i thought that meeting up in church wasn't just about the worship but was about the social interaction with others - the feeling of unity with your peers.

      Sounds exactly what happens here at slashtot.
      All together now: All hail the mighty Penguin...
    • Re:Have to wonder (Score:5, Insightful)

      by no longer myself ( 741142 ) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @07:14PM (#8899988)
      I mean, i thought that meeting up in church wasn't just about the worship but was about the social interaction with others - the feeling of unity with your peers.

      Yes, but many times the social interaction can be an absolute detriment to the practice of actually worshipping. As strongly as I believe in Christianity, I've found that some within that religion have managed to take over many of the sanctuaries with petty politics, and general thought control, and it's either under the nose or with the consent of the minister.

      Sadly, the message of Christianity gets twisted, misunderstood, or just plain lost under the din of the congregation.

      The virtual Church is novel, and certainly not for everyone, but then such is every flavor of religion in general. Faith is a very personal decision.

      My favorite response to those who claim to be a Christian because they go to church comes from Joyce Meyer: "I can sit in my garage; it doesn't make me a car."

      I've added Ship of Fools to my bookmarks. ;-)

      General disclaimer: I'm not pushing my faith on you. Thank you for not pushing yours on me.

  • by QEDog ( 610238 ) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @06:31PM (#8899715)
    Now you can go to church, read /. and watch pr0n all at the same time.
  • Do a quick Kazaa for Garrison Keillor's "Lutherans On Line." It's pretty funny.
    • Keillor had this one story of aboy rebelling against his methodist parents, he would always skip church and such, until his dad informed him:
      "You know, son, you can take communinion online now, using a methodist modem"
      Internet Church might be the thing of the future, but its current state is awful.
  • by Phoenixhunter ( 588958 ) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @06:34PM (#8899732)
    Going to church every sunday isn't necessarily just to hear a sermon, a little choir, read a few passages from the Bible...no, a big part rests around the face time with other attendees. It is like a family reunion...in a chat room. You might all be there, but you can't express emotion or body language that gives depth to any sort of relationship. Plus, one huge aspect of going to church and hearing millenia old gospel certainly implies that you are not looking to get tips and tricks on the latest gadgets, linux distros, etc.
    • by Troy ( 3118 ) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @07:16PM (#8899998)
      I think part of the purpose of this virtual church is not to replace brick-and-mortar churches, but to make a church experience accessible to people who (for whatever reason) never considered attending an actual church.

    • by JonathanBoyd ( 644397 ) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @08:38PM (#8900402) Homepage
      The point of going to church should be to hear the word of God explained from the Bible, spend time praising God and to encourage one another in fellowship. It's a family reunion in the sense that we're spending time together with God, our father and with Christian brothers and sisters, but I would be appalled at any church which considered the teaching secondary to any social aspect. Church should be centred on God and our relationship with him, rather than our relationship with each other. Once our relationship with God is good, that should take care of our relationships with each other.
  • I for one (Score:2, Funny)

    by lightspawn ( 155347 )
    Pity the new fool overlords.
  • by Law-Eagle ( 772417 ) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @06:36PM (#8899749)
    I predict this will be the first of thousands, including a few dodgy ones based in Nigeria (oops did I just give someone an idea).
  • by asobala ( 563713 ) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @06:37PM (#8899752) Homepage

    "...no one has built an interactive 3D church environment before - complete with gothic arches and hard wooden pews."


  • The Ark (Score:5, Informative)

    by Troy ( 3118 ) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @06:37PM (#8899755)
    It looks like the basic Flash engine that they are using also powered the Ark [shipoffools.com], an internet based reality game show that the Ship ran last year, featuring Biblical luminaries on a 40 day voyage around a mockup of Noah's Ark. If you examine the screenshots of Church of Fools, you can see Simon Peter, Jezebel, Mary Magdeline, Joseph (with rainbow coat), etc. You can still tour around the Ark by clicking the link above.

    Proud Shipmate
  • Confession? (Score:5, Funny)

    by MrIrwin ( 761231 ) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @06:37PM (#8899756) Journal
    Come on now....own up to your virtual sins. Otherwise you will be sent to Dante's virtual inferno where BSD deamons are condemmed to burn Windows CD's for eternity and SCO executives abound to slap lawsuits on everthing you do.

    Sorry, I'm getting a bit carried away.

  • Hmmm... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Huxley_Dunsany ( 659554 ) <huckdunsanyNO@SPAMmac.com> on Sunday April 18, 2004 @06:38PM (#8899764)
    So... if I fail to attend online church, do I go to virtual hell when I die?


  • Hopefully.. (Score:2, Funny)

    by Caedar ( 635764 )
    This will allow me to stay home every Sunday. ;)
  • Finally a good use for the online ordination I bought from that spammer.

    I don't even need to buy candles! ;-)
  • by Geoffreyerffoeg ( 729040 ) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @06:43PM (#8899792)
    Plenty of you are making light of this, but do you realize how many would love to go to a church on Sundays but can't (e.g., those who are sick, those who live in rural areas)? Fellowship with other Christians is half the Christian faith, and this is a useful tool for those who'll need it.
  • Sim Donations? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nurb432 ( 527695 )
    I wonder if when the 'plate' will be passed around and accept virtual coins or they will want credit card numbers.

    Just another scam in hiding, as is most organized religion. ( not the concept of religious belief, just that when you organize it, its ready-made scam material for the gullible. )
  • by CSIP ( 31272 ) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @06:44PM (#8899801) Homepage
    "God is present wherever his people gather"

    that (or something very similar) was what my pastor said when i asked him about marring me at my parents house instead of the church building itself. I dont see what that same concept couldnt apply to an online church.

    Im actually quite tempted to "show up" may 11th. I was raised a christian, still consider myself one, however for various reasons I rarely attend services anymore.... (mainly lack of motivation on my part to actully get up, get ready & drive over to the church) I fully realize thats no excuse at all.. but visiting a virtual service or two might be just what the doctor ordered.
  • ObLink... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Aardpig ( 622459 ) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @06:44PM (#8899805)

    ...to the best Church site on the net: Landover Baptist Church [landoverbaptist.org]. Praise the Lord!

  • In There... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jace of Fuse! ( 72042 ) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @06:47PM (#8899821) Homepage
    There is literally no reason why this sort of thing couldn't have already been going on for who knows how long.

    There are all kinds of people in games like Second Life, There, and The Sims Online that take the game way too seriously. It's only a matter of time before someone starts religious services, if they haven't already.

    I've seen groups of people all wearing shirts with Crosses and quotes like "Got Jesus?" for a while. An official meeting place on Sundays is only one step away.
  • Not gonna work (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KalvinB ( 205500 ) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @06:48PM (#8899835) Homepage
    too many disruptive trolls.

    They're going to need a lot of fast fingured moderators to keep that place "holy."

  • by tweakt ( 325224 ) * on Sunday April 18, 2004 @06:48PM (#8899839) Homepage

    And... free, with a visit to the "house of fools" site, the companion guide:
    Religion For Dummies [amazon.com]

    and yes, I *am* an atheist :P

  • Hax0rs? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wondermog ( 772429 )
    How many l33t preteens is it going to take to ruin a virtual service? They're going to have to implement chat restrictions over the course of the main 'worship', and even then, all it would take to ruin the after-chat is one kid.
  • The experience will not be the same to be with the crowd at church. The music (e.g., choir), the moods, expressions from people, social interaction, laughter from jokes, watching videos (e.g., Passion of the Christ [thepassion...christ.com] movie trailer from today's sermon [globalcon.net] at Lake Avenue Church [lakeave.org], etc. I can understand the site if one is very sick to go out like me today due to a nasty cold or can't go due to health issues.
  • Is virtual communion possible?

    Hoc est enim cookie meum.

  • I wonder if the Church of Fools has worked out the theological implications of the fact that their priests and pastors are now avatars [technovelgy.com]?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 18, 2004 @06:59PM (#8899908)
    Bless me, father, for I have spammed...
  • by DJ Super Dulce ( 766099 ) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @07:00PM (#8899915)
    I hope this works out and we'll soon see chat room wedding ceremonies. Weddings these days are so expensive. It would be much easier if we just decorated an electronic chapel, got cheap eDesigner Dresses, and gave Amazon.com gift certificates. Instead of hiring a band and violinist, I'll just pop over to the iTunes stores and pick up some tunes.

    I guess the only downside is that people would probably expect the ceremony to be consumated by cybersex.

  • by syousef ( 465911 ) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @07:06PM (#8899943) Journal
    Is this gonna be just like virtual sex? Vaguely satisifying but in the end its all just a w_nk. (That's Aussie slang for masturbation for those of you who don't know).

    Think of all the benefits. Just think of all the sacraments:
    Virtual communion - zero calories, and won't put you over the limit for when you drive

    Virtual marriage - When it goes sour you can always claim it wasn't you on the other end of the computer and keep half your stuff.

    Virtual baptism - Only your avatar will get wet.

    Virtual last rites - Not as depressing when its an avatar not a real person.

    Some things will always be better in person no matter how emmersive the virtual reality. This is totally wasted on me completely. I'm not religious. Religion has in some ways been the bane of my existence. I'd just love it if those that are would just leave me alone and I don't look forward to the prospect of increased net evangelism though I know its bound to happen.

    I'm not a troll either though.
  • by soricine ( 576909 ) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @07:11PM (#8899966)
    I think the people who are organising this are quite aware that its a gimmick, and I think that's probably the point. The article said that they were interested in attracting people who wouldn't otherwise go to a church. There are lots of other examples of churches organising surprising or gimmicky events to attract a different audience. The biggest risk is that they will only get people who go to church anyway. I imagine one of the aims will be to put non-Christians into contact with a local non-virtual church. (btw i'm not using gimmick as a derogatory term)
  • by Lifewish ( 724999 ) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @07:11PM (#8899971) Homepage Journal
    So do they consecrate the server as holy ground or what? I'm not even gonna think about baptisms.
  • come one people (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dwpro ( 520418 ) <dgeller777@gmGINSBERGail.com minus poet> on Sunday April 18, 2004 @07:12PM (#8899981)
    of the 58ish comments I've read, I've not seen one childish outburst on the side of the Christians, only on the side of those non-christian...not to say we won't stir up a fantatic in a minute, but it reflect badly on the rest of us...I detect a bit of unforgiveness on the parts of non-christians here. *putting all thoughts of imaginary karma aside, he scrolls by the "Post Anonymously" button and straight on to "Submit"*
  • Txt Gspl (Score:2, Funny)

    by aslate ( 675607 )
    Won't all that old-style English they read from the Bible be even harder to understand once they convert it to chat speak? "In da bginin Gd creatd da hvn n da erth. n da erth ws w/out frm, n void; n drknes [ws] upn da face of da deep. n da Spirt of Gd mvd upon da face of da wtrs. n Gd sd, Let der b lght: n der ws lght."
  • by silicongodcom ( 241132 ) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @07:23PM (#8900023)
    from my SimState
  • HA! (Score:2, Funny)

    by LordK3nn3th ( 715352 )
    "Not everything you read online is true."

    "Except whatever that man with the priest icon says."
  • by stienman ( 51024 ) <[moc.scisabu] [ta] [sivada]> on Sunday April 18, 2004 @08:15PM (#8900284) Homepage Journal
    The colection basket has been passed to you. There are no exits because you chose to sit in the middle of the pew. What do you want to do?

    Donate O$5 O$10 @$50 via PayPal
    Deftly pass it along while hanging your head in virtual shame

  • by Any Web Loco ( 555458 ) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @09:42PM (#8900691) Homepage
    An imaginary world where people can go to an imaginary church to talk to their imaginary god.

    Oh flame away...
  • Cultural problems? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by utlemming ( 654269 ) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @11:03PM (#8901024) Homepage
    The main problem that I see with this idea is church is molding to cultural ideas. Although the concept of reaching out to people via a forum in which it would be easily acceptable is good, at the same time the whole idea of leaving the 'world' (before any trolls jump on this idea, please take the time to look at the Christian concept of the world) to worship is lost. In a virtual enviroment, people are not themselves, they are free to act and to take on personas that are actually opposite to the way they act in real life. The other aspect that is lost in this idea is fellowship and worshipping with others. At least these are my personal objections. I just don't understand how this will serve any usefull religious purpouse. Outreach is fine. Outreach into virtual worlds doesn't make sense. Maybe I'm just too tradional.
  • by 770291 ( 770291 ) on Sunday April 18, 2004 @11:47PM (#8901219)
    "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:35.

    They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

    Acts 2:42-47

    These two passages, while not giving the complete picture, give a window into what a church is supposed to look like. In America, churches act like vendors of religious goods and services -- just a worldly business like any other. The early church lived more like a commune than a McJesus'. But today, a virtual church is only the logical extension of the modern church business model.

    The fact that anyone would be willing to call this a church shows how corrupted the definition of church has become. A church is a group of people who are willing to sacrifice their lives for God, for one another, and for the good of the world. A church is a group of people who choose to live their lives in true community, not hiding behind suburbia. A group of people who choose to live with values completely different from those of a greedy, callous, militaristic, mechanized society. The hospital is an invention of the church when it was the church, when people and communities freely opened up their homes to the sick, poor, and homeless. Today we have conferences, retreats, and other pseudo-religous claptrap (not to mention junk and pulp theology like Prayer of Jabez or Purpose Driven Life).

    So this web site is not a church. That's not the real surprise. But guess what? That stone building down the street where people go on Sunday to munch bagels and gossip? That's not a church either. It's a fraud. It's a country club disguised as a religious institution. It exists only for itself and is more about excluding people than including them.

  • by geoswan ( 316494 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @02:11AM (#8901866) Journal
    I thought April Fool's Day was a couple of weeks ago. :-)

    Browsing the Ship of Fools site I came across the contest to pick an 11th commandment. [shipoffools.com] The first winner was "Thou shalt not worship false pop idols". The top five choices won digital cameras. :-)

"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama