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Virtual Evangelism July 27, 2007

Posted by Michael in Religion.
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I’m thinking some clerics have too much time on their hands.

ROME (Reuters) – Catholic missionaries have always trekked to dangerous parts of the Earth to spread the word of God — now they are being encouraged to go into the virtual realm of Second Life to save virtual souls.

In an article in Rome-based Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica, academic Antonio Spadaro urged fellow Catholics not to be scared of entering the virtual world which may be fertile ground for new converts wishing to better themselves.

“It’s not possible to close our eyes to this phenomenon or rush to judge it,” Spadaro said. “Instead it needs to be understood … the best way to understand it is to enter it.”

See, I just don’t think the ordinary parishioner is going to feel good about funding missionaries to virtual reality. But maybe I’m behind the times.

Second Life is a simulation game where players can create a virtual version of themselves — an avatar — and interact with other people in the three-dimensional world.

According to its Web site, it has a population of more than 8 million residents and millions of dollars change hands there every month.

And there’s the problem with Spadaro’s idea. A “virtual version” of self is not a person, and avatars do not have souls. I think evangelism happens one-on-one, in real life. That’s why the “televangelism” that was such a fad in the 80’s turned out to be a failure, and tainted by scandals.

The target market of evangelism is a contrite heart, not gamers fleeing reality. The “body of Christ” that is the Church is comprised of people, not pixels.

But, those pixels might be horny.

Spadaro warns the uninitiated that “the erotic dimension is very present” in Second Life, that people can buy genitalia for their avatars in a world that is “open to any form of erotic stimulation from prostitution to pedophilia”.

While the virtual world might be a refuge for some people seeking to flee the real one, it is also full of people seeking something more from life, including, possibly, religious enlightenment, he said.

“Deep down, the digital world can be considered, in its way, mission territory,” he said. “Second Life is somewhere where the opportunity to meet people and to grow should not be missed, therefore, any initiative that can inspire the residents in a positive way should be considered opportune.”

Sorry, Spadaro, you are full of crap. I really don’t believe that people “meet and grow” in Second Life, especially as you have described it. Frankly, I’m wondering what you are really doing there.

Take Word of God to Second Life — Reuters

Comments»

1. Wickedpinto - July 27, 2007

Fetishers love the piece of crap virtual reality world of second life, so while it’s lame, it is territory that missionaries might find filled with heathens.

2. BrewFan - July 27, 2007

Check this out. Very interesting. I like Ravi and think he’s right about this.

3. l33t pr33ch0r - July 27, 2007

omgwtf
r u xian d000d?

4. Catholic missionaries invade Second Life « The Fake God Blog - July 27, 2007

[…] Via Innocent Bystanders. […]

5. Robert Tilton - July 27, 2007

That’s why the “televangelism” that was such a fad in the 80’s turned out to be a failure, and tainted by scandals.

Those “scandals” are a bunch of satanic lies, if you ask me.

Now, can I interest you in eternal salvation, for the low low cost of just $50 per week?

6. muswellhillbillyboy - July 27, 2007

“And there’s the problem with Spadaro’s idea. A “virtual version” of self is not a person, and avatars do not have souls. I think evangelism happens one-on-one, in real life.”

Uh, yeah, which is why that whole “Gospel” idea was so silly and ineffectual, no?

7. Jimmy Swaggart - July 27, 2007

Amy??

8. Jimmy Swaggart - July 27, 2007

no, no, wait… Debbie?

9. TBinSTL - July 27, 2007

If this idea is just about entering the social networking arena that second life provides, I see no problem with it. Though it is funny, I don’t think there is any reason to believe they want to “role play” conversion. I met my Salvation in jail. Good thing nobody had a problem with that venue.

10. Rip - July 27, 2007

Uhh yeah, I don’t think they’re trying to save virtual souls. They are going after the real people playing the game dude.

11. geoff - July 27, 2007

More Lutheran envy.

12. Michael - July 27, 2007

I met my Salvation in jail. Good thing nobody had a problem with that venue.

Historically, jail is a great venue. There tends to be a concentration of contrite hearts there.

They are going after the real people playing the game dude.

Of course. The question is, as TBinSTL suggests, is an online game featuring fetishism really a productive venue to spread the Gospel?

And is tapping on a keyboard and communicating through fiber optic cables really an effective way to teach and make disciples?

I don’t think so.

So, back to my main point. Evangelism actually happens one-on-one, in real life.

13. andy - July 28, 2007

So they’re going to replace the pretend world of Second Life with the pretend world of the afterlife?

Neat!

14. Shirley NotGoingToGiveMyNameToALunkheadLikeYou - July 28, 2007

So, back to my main point. Evangelism actually happens one-on-one, in real life.

If I understand you, you think one can’t share the Good News across the Internet, by means of a communications application that features virtualization. However, you can share the bad news of the unshareability of the Good News, by means of a communications application that features mostly-static HTML-based pages.

15. Retired Geezer - July 28, 2007

^Brew, good link at #2.

I think even Skinbad would approve.

16. Sobek - July 28, 2007

The comments to the post Brew linked are consistent with what I’ve seen ever since Romney’s name was first tossed around as a candidate. It seems that some conservatives are willing to reject a conservative* candidate based on a theological dispute, regardless of the fact that such rejection increases the probability of a Hillary Clinton presidency. At the same time, the majority of evangelicals are able to reject Mormon doctrine without rejecting Mormons themselves. It seems to me that Romney will take a hit for his religion, but probably not too substantial a hit.

*I realize there are some, like Amish, who dispute that Romney is a conservative at all. But there are those who essentially state that even assuming he is conservative, he is still unacceptable.

17. mesablue - July 28, 2007

This is the weirdest comment thread on this commenting blog — ever.

18. eddiebear - July 28, 2007

I wonder how The Church can fund this stuff. Every week, we seem to have “second collections” for all kinds of stuff on top of our regular weekly collections. The Peter’s Pence, The Vincentians, The North American Missions, etc. We even have the Annual Catholic Appeal to raise money for the Archdiocese of STL. I guess we will soon have the “Pope Benny and his Virtual Reality Missions” drive.

Sheesh

19. Retired Geezer - July 28, 2007

It seems that some conservatives are willing to reject a conservative* candidate based on a theological dispute, regardless of the fact that such rejection increases the probability of a Hillary Clinton presidency

That’s what I’m afraid of.
Like one of those commenters said, “We’re electing a President, not a spiritual leader”.

Baby meet Bathwater.

20. Typical Conservative Who Sits Out and Then Complains Anyway - July 28, 2007

RG:

I don’t care. I’m gonna sit out because whomever you nominate not named my guy isn’t 111% conservative enough! Who cares if I help elect Hillary! by sitting out?

21. Michael - July 28, 2007

If I understand you, you think one can’t share the Good News across the Internet, by means of a communications application that features virtualization. However, you can share the bad news of the unshareability of the Good News, by means of a communications application that features mostly-static HTML-based pages.

Well, not quite, but sort of. Certainly you can communicate the good news, or anything else, by means of the internet, even in the gaming world. But let’s stick to the issue — where should the Church invest resources in sending a missionary? Eddiebear’s comment in #18 above reflects the point I made in the post — your average parishioner will perceive this as a waste of time and money. I certainly would. I don’t think the ambiance of the online gaming world presents a fertile evangelism opportunity, and I don’t think HTML chatting in the erotic environment of Second Life is likely to be an effective format for sharing the gospel.

Again, I’m just saying that effective witnessing normally occurs one-on-one between real people. Sending missionaries to preach to the person lurking behind an avatar in Second Life strikes me as absurd. To borrow a metaphor from Jesus, you’re casting the seed on rocky ground. It’s kind of hard for me to believe that this is really a controversial opinion.

22. Retired Geezer - July 28, 2007

Who cares if I help elect Hillary! by sitting out?

Good point… It’s how Bill got elected.

23. Sobek - July 28, 2007

You can often make solid generalizations about a person’s spiritual preparedness to hear the gospel based on their location. If you go to a baseball game, you’re likely to find people who are a lot more concerned about baseball than about salvation, at that particular moment. If you go to a prison, you are likely to find people who understand they are being punished, usually for a good reason, and who have had a lot of time to think about that punishment.

So what are people thinking about when they log on to Second Life? I never even heard of the thing before reading this post, but it looks to me like they’re thinking about (usually sexually-deviant) escapism. It seems Michael will agree with me that this is not fertile ground for finding people who the Lord has prepared to hear the gospel message.

24. Michael - July 28, 2007

That’s really my whole point, Sobek. It’s not like it’s impossible for the Holy Spirit to work within Second Life. But given limited resources, where should the Church send a missionary ? Spadaro’s suggestion that Second Life is a promising mission field strikes me as foolish and wasteful.

25. Mr Minority - July 28, 2007

Evangelism actually happens one-on-one, in real life.

And there is a simple reason why face-to-face evangelism works and the internet evangelism will have little success: Real personal interaction, being able to react to body language and facial expressions. You can’t decipher a person’s tone of voice or facial expression over the internet and that makes a big difference. Plus when a person needs a shoulder to cry on, what does the internet have to offer? A beastly avatar’s shoulder? I have evangelized IMing a person before and it took 3 days, due to the inability to react or understand the context in which the person was talking about. Where as if it had been face to face, it would have been 10x easier.

26. Michael - July 28, 2007

I might add that the idea of sending missionaries into Second Life, of all places, seems especially bizarre coming from a Catholic. Two of the most pressing challenges facing the Catholic Church are (1) a critical shortage of priests worldwide, and (2) the legacy (and financial liability) of sexual abuse by the clergy.

So now, Spadaro is spending time in Second Life, I suppose while he’s being paid, and suggesting that missionaries might be sent into this arena which is “open to any form of erotic stimulation from prostitution to pedophilia”.

Give me a break. I guess that’s what bugs me about Spadaro. He sounds like one of those head-in-the-clouds academics who needs to be given some useful work.

27. Anonymous - July 28, 2007

uhu

28. Russ from Winterset - July 28, 2007

“I don’t care. I’m gonna sit out because whomever you nominate not named my guy isn’t 111% conservative enough! Who cares if I help elect Hillary! by sitting out?”

That sounds a lot like supporters of “he who must not be named, lest we bring down the horde of winged internet poo-flinging monkeys onto this non-blog blog”.

You know, the guy whose initials are the same as Richard Petty.

29. Lady Michael - July 28, 2007

I don’t always agree with hubby — but in this case I do.

Michael and I had a minister friend who took extra time out of his very busy weekly schedule and spent time in bars in St. Louis being an evangelist. He would sit at the bar and look for opportunities where folks wanted to talk and if the conversation came to the tough issues, Larry would share the Gospel. Larry was a family man who had made his millions in the Texas cattle industry and then in middle age he went to seminary and became a lay-minister partnering with the pastor(s) of a large church.

I think Larry did this sort of ministry/evangelism the right way…face to face…one on one… listener FIRST — then sharing the story later — IF APPROPRIATE.

30. Pupster - July 28, 2007

So this minister walks into a bar…

31. daveintexas - July 28, 2007

Yeah, can you get this guy off my ass?

— the duck

32. A Woman - July 28, 2007

churches need to unit

by the way, find 6 fault and winn a date with me

greetings sofia

http://sofiawinterborn.wordpress.com/2007/07/28/sofiafind-6-fault-and-winn-a-date-with-me/

33. Mrs. Peel - July 28, 2007

For a second, I thought Sofia’s icon was a duck.

34. Gimly - July 28, 2007

i wonder if we’re on the edge of having religious fundamentalist terrorists in second life as well 😀

35. Michael - July 28, 2007

by the way, find 6 fault and winn a date with me

Geez, Sofia, I’m not sure this is the best place to troll for a date. You can’t possibly be so desperate that you would date one of us.

🙂

36. eddiebear - July 28, 2007

28:

And the RP crowd helped bring about Billary. And it looks as though Round 2 may be on its way.

37. eddiebear - July 28, 2007

Russ:

Oops. My bad. I went back in my time machine to 1992 again.

I get who you meant.

38. Michael - July 28, 2007

The Official IB Checklist For Acceptable Female Date™:

1. Pulse.

. . .

. . .

Did I miss anything?

39. eddiebear - July 28, 2007

what about only one head?

40. Michael - July 28, 2007

OK, I’ll put a maximum of one head on the list.

Also, maybe:

3. Can’t smell worse than your feet.

41. sandy burger - July 28, 2007

4. Must respect the special bond that forms between a man and his Roomba.

42. BrewFan - July 28, 2007

5. Homo sapien or one of the higher-order primates. Either way.

43. BrewFan - July 28, 2007

P.S. Cordero SUCKS!

44. Michael - July 28, 2007

Gee, Brew, are you having a bad day?

45. BrewFan - July 28, 2007

Not as bad as Cordero’s day 🙂

Mine has a chance to improve by either the Brew Crew winning the nightcap or the Cubs getting hammered in Cincy.

46. BrewFan - July 28, 2007

6. Can’t be on death row (unless conjugal visits are allowed)

47. mesablue - July 28, 2007

7. Never dated Wickedpinto.

48. BrewFan - July 28, 2007

8. Must not be on life support (negotiable if the hotness factor is high)

49. Michael - July 28, 2007

9. Facial hair, if present, should be neatly groomed.

(I strongly endorse Mesa’s No. 7, by the way.)

50. totaltransformation - July 28, 2007

“See, I just don’t think the ordinary parishioner is going to feel good about funding missionaries to virtual reality. ”

If your computer crashes and you lose everything does that equate to virtual martyrdom?

51. Wickedpinto - July 28, 2007

She’d be ruined for all of you after basking in my manly accomplishments.

Yeah, not only wouldn’t YOU want to date her, but unless you are 6’plus of twisted steel (melted by fire) and sex appeal you don’t stand a CHANCE!

Not to mention she might wonder when you will ask her for a glass of water or lemonade after the 3rd or fourth coital accomplishment.

52. Wickedpinto - July 28, 2007

I’m wondering if I should take up faith as a hobby, cuz it seems all the hot chicks do done love the faithful.

That limit’s my pool of non-believers.

53. Wickedpinto - July 28, 2007

At least the non-moonbat wackjob insanely evangelical atheist non-believers that is.

Why am I more infuriated by evangelical atheists than christians, OH! thats right, evangelical christians tend to be NICE!

54. Top Posts « WordPress.com - July 28, 2007

[…] Virtual Evangelism I’m thinking some clerics have too much time on their hands. ROME (Reuters) – Catholic missionaries have always […] […]

55. BrewFan - July 28, 2007

hahahaha! I wonder what people are going to think when they click this WordPress link?

10. Never comments at IB

56. Prohibition, Restraint and Religion in Second Life « Shadow of a Doubt - July 28, 2007

[…] blogger expresses his doubt about the venture: Sorry, Spadaro, you are full of crap. I really don’t believe that people […]

57. Pupster - July 28, 2007
58. Lady Michael - July 28, 2007

12. Must not smell like seafood?

59. Michael - July 28, 2007

I’m with you, Pupster. I love turtles. I remember my childhood friend, Sylvester. My first pet. Sylvester was a cool turtle. He was actually friendly. No kidding. You could talk to him, and he would swim around to listen.

Today, I have a pretty good collection of wood, stone and pottery turtles. Mostly purchased for me, or made, by my kids. They know I have a soft spot for turtles.

60. Wickedpinto - July 28, 2007

Well, FRESH! crab meat, and lobster (absent the shell) smells a little sweet, not like old seafood, or mollusks, but You know, you can smell like lump crab, or fresh split tail lobster, and I will eat that like it was. . . well, lobster.

61. Retired Geezer - July 28, 2007

3. Can’t smell worse than your feet.

*Your* feet or my feet?

62. Lady Michael - July 28, 2007

WP — you make me giggle a lot!

Pupster — your turtle prerequisite is cool! When Michael and I went on our first date, we found out that we both liked turtles and had them as pets when we were kids. (We also both liked Root Beer and camping. It’s not E-harmony.com or anything but we figure a good match!)

On one of our dates, we ended up stopping the car in the middle of a country road to get out of the car and usher a rather large turtle over to the side of the road so she/he wouldn’t get hit.

63. DigitalPlus - July 28, 2007

Wow I never could have imagined second life to hook so many people! I tried a couple times and just not my style. We need to spend time in the first life with real people and not spend $$ in second life unless we are called to such a ministry.

64. Toni - July 29, 2007

AMEN !!!

65. Retired Geezer - July 29, 2007

We have some friends who put their money where their mouths are; they have been on short-term missions to Papua New Guiana and they are heading out to Africa in a month or so.
It ain’t cheap either.

Oh, and they are older than *we* are.

66. kevlarchick - July 29, 2007

I have to second Michael’s observations about the Catholic Church. I could not put money if the offering plate a few weeks ago after hearing about that $600 million settlement in California between the Church and the accusers. Made me SICK.

Our parish can barely afford to make simple HVAC repairs.

One priest even said during a homily “as Catholics, you don’t necessarily have to give to the Catholic Church; but don’t stop giving.”

67. pollyannasunshine - July 29, 2007

How much time can people spend beating a straw man?

If you bothered either to read the very brief Reuters article without totally twisting it or to google Antonio Spadaro, you might notice that he said nothing about the Church *funding* individual “missionaries” to go into online games. He is just saying that both Jesuits and Catholic laypeople with an interest in sharing their faith and shaping their culture should recognize that virtual reality is just as much a way of communicating and interacting with human beings as talking to them face to face. I’d never even heard of this guy, but if you look at his homepage, he is PAID as an academic (that is, a teacher, scholar, and editor of a cultural criticism journal directed toward an audience of ordinary Catholics), and most of his career has been focused on examining the cultural and theological implications of both literature and other forms of fantasy (he’s written on Tolkien and Raymond Carver) and of new communications technologies and social formations.

Whether you agree with his religious faith or his view of evangelization or not, I don’t really see why you think it’s such a nutty idea. No nuttier than C.S. Lewis creating an entire fantasy world that embodies his own beliefs or the Mormons running TV commercials showing how happy their faith makes them and offering to send a free book to anyone who’s interested, or a bunch of Evangelicals blogging about whether it’s okay to vote for Mitt Romney. It might not be your cup of tea, but I’m not sure why it so outrages you. And nobody is asking for a dime of your money for it, even if you are Catholic.

68. kevlarchick - July 29, 2007

I’m not outraged by the virtual evangelism. At all.

I am outraged by the close to one billion dollars paid out in hush money to protect predator priests and silence possibly false accusers. This demon needs to be aired in the light–with both accused and accusers being named in a public court. Does the Church honestly think that these types of payouts will end the scandal?

Since I am a fairly devout Roman Catholic, surely you can understand that.

69. daveintexas - July 29, 2007

he is PAID as an academic (that is, a teacher, scholar, and editor of a cultural criticism journal directed toward an audience of ordinary Catholics).

So. What? Oooooo… he’s a PAID thinker. That’s your endorsement right there.

Interesting that you open with a criticism of straw man arguments, and close with your Lewis and Mormon examples.

Are you Andrew Sullivan?

70. Michael - July 29, 2007

Polly:

The opening, and usually topic, sentence of the article refers to the history of Catholic priests being sent as missionaries to new territory, and closes with Spadaro saying: “”Deep down, the digital world can be considered, in its way, mission territory.”

It may be that I was misled, and Spadaro is only suggesting that individual Catholics might evangelize in Second Life, as opposed to missionaries sent (and funded) by the church. I really can’t tell from the Reuters article, but if so, you are correct that much of my venting is pointless and there really is nothing objectionable (or even interesting) about his remarks.

71. daveintexas - July 29, 2007

It is interesting that he’s a PAID thinker.

At least, I find it interesting.

72. pollyannasunshine - July 29, 2007

Oh, I wasn’t actually referring to kevlarchick’s post–yeah, obviously the sex abuse coverups are a problem, as is the question of where the money to settle with victims (or pay them a lot more if it comes to a verdict in court, as she would prefer) comes from. But I don’t really see what that has to do with the topic of Spadaro and Second Life, except that Michael chose to make an innuendo about Spadaro’s motivations in his first post, and then to compound his initial misunderstanding of Spadaro’s notion of the internet as a “mission field” as a misuse of Church funds and personnel that Spadaro does not seem to have actually suggested. From what I can puzzle out of the abstract of the original article with my lousy Italian, and the longer English summary in the Financial Times, he’s merely suggesting to Catholic intellectuals and cultural activists that they take seriously the potential significance of virtual realities (including role-playing forums) as part of the real world to which they bring their faith. Does Michael really think that the shortage of clergy and sexual abuse scandals requires that Catholic theologians, clergy, and laypeople should simply stop caring about the rest of the world or engaging with it in a wide variety of ways?

Michael’s real concern seems to be that a concern with analyzing and participating constructively the fantasy worlds and leisure activities of millions of people is just “head-in-the-clouds academic” bullshit and a waste of resources. But given how much of an impact the existing cultural industries have on the lives and minds of most people in the societies they reach, it seems to me like a no-brainer that people concerned with intervening in those societies might consider fiction, fantasy, and new communications technologies as legitimate fields of intervention. (Not to mention that participating actively in online communities is probably one of the cheapest ways to spread your views, compared to making a distributable film or publishing a print magazine.) Some people happen to think that metaphors and allegories are powerful ways of working through and sharing with others really complex intellectual and spiritual concepts. You know: C. S. Lewis. Flannery O’Connor. Dante. Augustine. Plato. And I heard there was some guy from Nazareth who used to ramble on about mustard seeds and buried coins and prodigal sons and good Samaritans until lots of people thought he was a total nutjob, and a dangerous one.

I don’t know exactly what Spadaro thinks he can do to intervene in the culture of Second Life, but I’d kinda like to see him try.

73. Michael - July 29, 2007

You have a point, Dave. Sure wish that you and I were smart enough to get paid for thinking.

74. Michael - July 29, 2007

I think you were typing while I was posting, Polly. See #70 above.

75. pollyannasunshine - July 29, 2007

If people are actually interested in what Spadaro says, the Financial Times article gives a somewhat clearer characterization of the article. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/ceae9c60-3ba8-11dc-8002-0000779fd2ac.html

Abstract of the original article is at http://www.laciviltacattolica.it/Quaderni/Ricerca.htm (plug “second life” into the search page).

Spadaro’s homepage is . Clunky English translation is http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=it&u=http://www.antoniospadaro.net/&sa=X&oi=translate&resnum=1&ct=result&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dantonio%2Bspadaro%26hl%3Den%26rlz%3D1T4SUNA_enUS224US224

Apparently he’s also written on Tolkien and Raymond Carver, and has challenged the Pope’s critiques of rock music, as in this article about Tom Waits. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article1527801.ece
So thanks for turning me on to Spadaro, even if that wasn’t your intent. I think he might just be the bomb. Too bad I don’t read Italian and a lot of his stuff doesn’t seem to be translated yet.

76. Michael - July 29, 2007

^

No, Polly, you didn’t get banned. 🙂 Your comment was late because, as an anti-spam measure, WordPress will hold for moderation any comment with more than a specified number of links.

77. Lady Michael - July 29, 2007

HEY I wanna get paid to thimk too!!

78. mesablue - July 29, 2007

Heh.

79. mesablue - July 29, 2007

Not sure how much thimking pays, but it would be interesting to find out.

80. euphrosyne1115 - July 29, 2007

Polly, you have the patience of… of… a saint, I suppose. I could never participate in a discussion like this without vital parts of my brain detonating. You did mean, of course “paid as an academic researcher in this field” as opposed to “paid as a Catholic priest to beat off to Second Life?” Michael apparently understood the reference; daveinlowercaseintexas was so eager to shoot you down he totally missed it. That’s the kind of petty nitpicking that makes me a sad panda.

You paid thinker, you.

81. euphrosyne1115 - July 29, 2007

Wait a minute – if you’re a paid thinker, does that make you a brain whore? Or a thought worker, in the more polite terminology?

82. daveintexas - July 29, 2007

When people are jerks I don’t really feel like investing a lot of time understanding them. It isn’t important to me.

If you are impressed that someone’s legitimacy derives from them making a living doing what they do, well, that makes at least one of us who is impressed with that.

In rhetoric, it’s known as an appeal to authority. In Texas, it’s known more colloquially as “bullshit”.

83. Lady Michael - July 29, 2007

The THIMK thing was an old joke. Years ago (late 70s & early 80s) a bunch of us at work taped little posters of with the word “THIMK” right next to our computer terminals (before office PCs).

Wage Slaves. Brain Whores. Paid Thinkers. What’s the dif?
They all kinda have a ring to them!

84. Lady Michael - July 29, 2007

Dave, would that be Texas Longhorn Bull Shit?

85. euphrosyne1115 - July 29, 2007

Dave, you darling. I quite agree. Fortunately, it didn’t take much time in your case. And you still don’t quite get it, do you?

Lady Michael, I think I still have a THIMK button (yes, button, what a geek) from my youth… they were all the rage in the subterranean computer labs at UT.

86. Lady Michael - July 29, 2007

Years ago in a discussion with a boss while I was asking for clarification on some systems work, I began by telling him that “while I was thinking about the project…” my boss interrupted me with his laughter. I then playfully said that I thought that part of why I was being paid was to think, and he laughed at me again.

Maybe I was more of a brain whore than I thought…

87. Michael - July 29, 2007

Michael’s real concern seems to be that a concern with analyzing and participating constructively the fantasy worlds and leisure activities of millions of people is just “head-in-the-clouds academic” bullshit

I’ll try again.

Leaving aside the question of whether church resources are used, my real concern is that it seems foolhardy to suggest that a fantasy gaming world which features a highly erotic ambiance (according to the article and Wickedpinto) is likely to be a fruitful venue for evangelism. I remain perplexed that this would provoke any controversy. Someone upthread pointed out that you could say the same thing about trying to evangelize the attendees at a baseball game. You could say the same thing about the World of Warcraft. People in these venues are unlikely to be receptive to evangelism. It’s like going to a rock concert and having to listen to a political speech by the lead singer.

To a lesser extent, I would also say the same thing about a comment thread like this one. It’s an unwieldy format for attempting to spread the Word. I continue to maintain that evangelism most readily occurs one-on-one in real life.

As to “analyzing” the virtual reality scene, that’s certainly an appropriate academic pursuit. The article, however, was clearly focussed on considering Second Life as a mission field.

But then, I’m just a common man who works with his hands.

88. euphrosyne1115 - July 29, 2007

Brain whores unite, I say.

89. euphrosyne1115 - July 29, 2007

“Leaving aside the question of whether church resources are used, my real concern is that it seems foolhardy to suggest that a fantasy gaming world which features a highly erotic ambiance (according to the article and Wickedpinto) is likely to be a fruitful venue for evangelism.”

Agreed, although the prison analogy is interesting. But then, I run like an angry rabbit from any kind of religious proselytizing at all, so my views are highly biased.

90. euphrosyne1115 - July 29, 2007

Oh, and nice blog! I forgot to mention I’ve been surfing all over it for the last half hour – “Sit Down and Shut Up, Sheik” was genius.

91. Michael - July 29, 2007

Skinbad, a Mormon and one of our regular contributors, actually does prison evangelism. I admire him for that.

92. euphrosyne1115 - July 29, 2007

I can’t even imagine the dedication that must take, or the sheer guts.

93. Michael - July 29, 2007

Well, Skinbad takes his wife along for protection.

94. BrewFan - July 29, 2007

Us Calvinists hold to the truth that man is unable to redeem himself therefore the place and time of your salvation is divinely appointed. If its Second Life, so be it. Michael’s larger point is right on though; if you’re going to personally evangelize the lost then there are about 9,999 more edifying ways to do it. Playing video games seems a bit self indulgent to me.

95. Russ from Winterset - July 29, 2007

Michael, totally with you on the turtle fondness. Every time I pass one trying to cross the highway, I feel a compulsion to stop and carry it across to the other side. I figure it’s the least I can do for the only true crimefighting reptile. I never had one as a pet, but one of my old college buddies living down in the Kansas City suburbs used to have one wandering around their lakeside subdivision. One of the neighbors cut a number on the shell with an X-acto knife, and the turtle was still recognizable as “their” neighborhood turtle for at least another five years. I’ll have to ask him next time I talk to him if they’ve seen “Shelly” lately.

96. daveintexas - July 29, 2007

Dave, would that be Texas Longhorn Bull Shit?

it’s not that good. just run of the mill, everyday ordinary bullshit.

97. Retired Geezer - July 29, 2007

Playing video games seems a bit self indulgent to me.

*puts down the controller*

You mean when I smite someone in Halo-2 and say in my most impressive voice “The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee. ”

It isn’t a good evangelism tool?

98. pollyannasunshine - July 29, 2007

Actually, politicking at rock concerts and as part of rock music itself has a long and venerable tradition. And there are also plenty of Christians who seem to be rather successfully evangelizing through rock music, though my own tastes run more to Dylan, U2, or Rock the Vote.

This may be a difference in conceptions of evangelization. You folks seem to be talking about “saving the lost.” Catholics (at least the sort I hang with and was raised by) care more about feeding the hungry, and recognize that people’s hungers can be spiritual as well as physical. It’s not our job to save anybody’s soul, but it is our job to do what we can to love and serve the needs of our fellow human beings. Fantasy fandoms and RPGs may be filled with escapists and perverts, but they are also filled with people who are seeking something that their everyday life is apparently not providing (which arguably sums up the escapists and perverts as well). So I’m guessing that’s why Spadaro sees those arenas as places where he might be able to intervene in ways that helps those people find a more satisfying food for the mind or spirit. It doesn’t take the place of feeding the physically hungry, but there’s no reason those have to be mutually exclusive.

And actually, I just agreed to do some teaching next fall at the state penitentiary where a colleague of mine has a longstanding outreach program. I’m not preaching, because that’s not my thing, but I suppose it is, like my regular paid and unpaid work as a teacher/writer/brainwhore, a way of trying to feed certain kinds of hungers or at least pointing others to new sources of food for the brain and spirit. Prisoners’ bodies get decently fed, but if there was ever a population deprived in their other human needs, that’s certainly one of them.

And hey, there’s something to be said for baseball fans as spiritual seekers as well–doesn’t anybody remember Bull Durham? “I’ve tried ’em all, I really have, and the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball.” Personally I’ve never found that attending baseball games fed anything more than a hunger for beer and nachos for me, but it’s certainly possible that people who can keep the faith in the Red Sox for over 80 years might be looking for other things to believe in.

And I would note that as someone who says she doesn’t understand how anyone can even follow a discussion like this, euphrosyne has sure participated in it quite a bit already! 😉

99. Michael - July 29, 2007

It isn’t a good evangelism tool?

Gee. If that’s precisely what Spadaro had in mind, maybe I will reconsider.

Otherwise, I still think his depiction of Second Life as a mission field is asinine.

100. Michael - July 29, 2007

And I would note that as someone who says she doesn’t understand how anyone can even follow a discussion like this, euphrosyne has sure participated in it quite a bit already!

Yeah, I think euphrosyne is another edumacated person.

I’m just over my head, I know that. I think I’ll go tune up my car or something.

101. Michael - July 29, 2007

BTW, Polly, good luck with the prison outreach. I think it’s cool that you’re doing that.

102. WordPress PoliSci & Blogroaming « oldephartteintraining - July 29, 2007

[…] Virtual Evangelism […]

103. BrewFan - July 29, 2007

You folks seem to be talking about “saving the lost.”

Nobody said that. I thought we agreed there would be no strawmen?
I think what we’re saying is ‘man proposes, God disposes’ and we’re examining the best way to propose.

Catholics (at least the sort I hang with and was raised by) care more about feeding the hungry, and recognize that people’s hungers can be spiritual as well as physical.

This is true and I commend the Catholic church on this. Evangelical protestants don’t do as well as they should, imho.

It’s not our job to save anybody’s soul,

It is our job to share the gospel. If you’re not sharing you need to ask yourself why that is.

but it is our job to do what we can to love and serve the needs of our fellow human beings.

Yes, in conjuction with sharing the gospel. The physical will pass away but the spiritual is a matter of eternity.

104. euphrosyne1115 - July 29, 2007

On evangelism (speaking as an outside observer):

The only two kinds of evangelism I can tolerate are a) living as an example of your faith and b) the kind of face-to-face, listen first, suggest things to think about later interaction that Lady Michael described in response 29. Everything else has the faint whiff of coercion or simple arrogance to me.

I do have immense admiration for the no-strings-attached humanitarian work that many religious organizations perform. If, however, food and medicine are conditional upon Mother Hubbards and the missionary position, no way.

On a purely personal level, I have never met a Jesuit I didn’t like. No idea why.

And Polly, don’t blow my simple woman of the people cover, you brain whore. I ain’t got no string of initials before and after MY name.

105. atelier - July 30, 2007

good thing I’ve gone astray (non-denominational). no wonder we’re still having these holy wars even today. its all right however. it’s what we humans are; world domination. although, i’m not so sure if i’d be happy if everyone (or most people) are like me in most ways. need to respect existentialism rather than communitarianism. if not, then learn to balance it all…

106. lauraw - July 30, 2007

It’s not our job to save anybody’s soul

Another victim of Catholicism-Lite™.

107. narziss - July 30, 2007

Heh.
The way too look at it is this; one set of people with imaginary beliefs are using one technological game of imagination, to propagate their own imaginations! How’s that, huh?

😉

108. jen - July 30, 2007

if you blog – you are an evangelist in the virtual world.

109. lolvangelist - July 30, 2007

im in ur komputerz
convertin ur kidz

110. pollyannasunshine - July 30, 2007

lauraw: I didn’t come up with that, the Council of Trent did. In the 16th century. People are saved by the grace of God and their own free will. Other people can be instruments of that grace, but what people do with it is up to them. And I think there’s a lot of historical evidence that more people have been touched by love and charity than won over by bible-thumping. If it’s a choice between Mother Teresa and Pat Robertson, I’d take her style of evangelism any day. Frankly she’s a way better evangelist than pretty much any of the Popes. Not that that I am even remotely capable of emulating her example. I could maybe pull a Spadaro and be an instrument of some very subtle grace working in a virtual reality environment, but I really tend to side with Flannery O’Connor, who knew that grace tends to come where you least expect it, and its instruments are just as often people you’d consider freaks or monsters or events that are either real traumas or maybe just sharp blows to your ego. I know nothing about Second Life other than what I’ve googled in the past day or two, but it looks like it’s filled with enough freaks and unanticipated possibilities that I’m guessing God could find all kinds of mysterious ways to work in there. Spadaro might or might not be right that he or anybody else can actively foster it, but I don’t doubt that it happens there.

And euphrosyne, your cover was already totally blown by your handle. Even I had to google that puppy, you Brain Tease, you.

Apologies to the Innocent Bystanders for getting all intellekshul on ya’ll. But you know, when you post about obscure Italian theologians and virtual reality environments, you’re kinda asking for it. Not to mention scientific research and politics and all the other brainy stuff you comment on, you Brain Hotties, you. And when you make it to the WordPress front page, people get intrigued. And you know you love it.

And even though brewfan’s rule #10 now excludes us from eligibility, we are totally hot and smell real good, and I at least am very fond of turtles. Brewfan doesn’t know what he’s missing. But our spouses would be very annoyed if he investigated too closely, and euphrosyne’s spouse is big, and has a mean streak. But would undoubtedly secretly like to buy brewfan a beer.

111. lauraw - July 30, 2007

http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,22136550-13762,00.html

I like this pope. Mainly because he looks like Emperor Palpatine.

112. Retired Geezer - July 30, 2007

no wonder we’re still having these holy wars even today.

Definition:

Holy Wars = Christians donating zillions of dollars to help Muslims after tidal waves and other disasters.
Muslims respond by killing more Christians.

113. BrewFan - July 30, 2007

And I think there’s a lot of historical evidence that more people have been touched by love and charity than won over by bible-thumping.

Really? My take on this is that true conversion is always preceded by a conviction that one is seperated from God because of their sin. In fact, it shouldn’t be a suprise to anybody that the gospel message usually offends people. Its the nature of the message; repent and be saved.

Brewfan doesn’t know what he’s missing.

And somehow I’m not bothered by this. Go figure.

114. pollyannasunshine - July 30, 2007

lauraw–Sigh. Just when I get comfortable being really annoyed by a religious leader, they go and do or say something I quite agree with. Not that the Catholic Church hasn’t been on record as being okay with evolution since 1950 under Pius XII, but Benedict’s explication of it, and his comments on environmentalism, are quite nice.

But I don’t know. He looks more Gollum than Palpatine to me. I think it’s the height. And the ears. Although the robes are very imperial.

115. lauraw - July 30, 2007

There is a rude and condescending tone/ verbiage up there, but I don’t think she means it that way. She might just come off wrong on the internet, like a lot of people do.

116. lauraw - July 30, 2007

oops, simultaneous posting

Aaaanyway

117. euphrosyne1115 - July 30, 2007

Brewfan, this is a completely serious question: what if you have no sense at all of separation from God/Allah/Yahweh/the Divine Spirit? What if you feel connected at all times to a higher power and don’t feel the need of group communion to strengthen this connection? In your own faith, is adherence to a certain set of beliefs a prerequisite for grace? Oh, and does feeling disconnected from God because of an awareness of sin mean searching for absolution from guilt through religion?

If this is too much waylaying of Michael’s original post, I’d be happy to read any response you have on your own blog. I’ve always been curious about differing ideas of divine grace, and I much prefer hearing personal experiences. I don’t bring it up in real life, though, because it’s like painting a big target on your forehead: “Agnostic here! Come and get me!”

118. Retired Geezer - July 30, 2007

If this is too much waylaying of Michael’s original post,

Are you kidding? … It’s what we Live for.

119. euphrosyne1115 - July 30, 2007

In that case, Polly and Lauraw are both wrong about Pope Benedict. He looks like he was drawn by one of my favorite children’s illustrators, Victoria Chess. See for yourself:

120. pollyannasunshine - July 30, 2007

Aw, that wasn’t intended as condescension, brewfan. That was a genuine display of affection. Pollyanna loves everybody. 🙂 Just like Lyle Lovett does. But lauraw is right. The internet is totally full of misunderstood creeps like me. 😦

I really am beginning to heart the Innocent Bystanders, now that I’ve had a chance to cruise the site a bit more and scope the music selections. Although I may have to save my most undying devotion for daveintexas, for his magnificent historical video work. And for accusing me of being Andrew Sullivan! 😉

Not that I’m saying I’m not….

121. BrewFan - July 30, 2007

lauraw, point taken.

euphrosyne1115,
We’re all about off-topic here at IB!

In your own faith, is adherence to a certain set of beliefs a prerequisite for grace?

No. In my faith grace is defined as unmerited favor. A gift, if you will, with no strings attached. Like any gift, however, one must accept it to enjoy it. In my faith the gift is offered by Christ because of his position in the godhead as the Redeemer. So, if I believe He has the right to offer the gift, and I accept it, then I am saved.

I’d like to note that I believe that religion can be defined as man’s attempt to please God and in light of the above you should gather that I hold religious things at arms length. There are some good religious things and there are bad religious things but in the end religion won’t get you into heaven.

What if you feel connected at all times to a higher power and don’t feel the need of group communion to strengthen this connection?

Group communion, church, religion, etc. is not a prerequisite for fellowship with God. From a practical standpoint, however, I enjoy my church because it gives me a chance to hang with people who share most of my beliefs. And those folks are a great source of strength for when the hard times hit as they have the last month or so.

Oh, and does feeling disconnected from God because of an awareness of sin mean searching for absolution from guilt through religion?

I would amend your sentence as follows to make my point: Feeling disconnected from God because of an awareness of sin means searching for forgiveness from the God that you have sinned against. You’ll find no relief from sin or guilt from religion.

As far as personal experiences, I was an atheist up until the time I married Mrs. BrewFan. I even lied to her pastor about being a believer so he would marry us! Anyway, I love Mrs. BrewFan and I could tell that it bothered her that I wouldn’t go to church on Sunday so I went to a Christmas Eve service in 1983 and the pastor preached about the prophecy fulfilled in the birth, life, and death of Jesus Christ. I had never heard anything like that before and that began a journey that ended up with me being baptized in 1984.

I’d like to point out that I did not have to commit intellectual suicide to become a believer. Quite the contrary I think there is much evidence to support my faith (note to andy: notice I did not say ‘prove’).

122. Michael - July 30, 2007

And euphrosyne, your cover was already totally blown by your handle. Even I had to google that puppy, you Brain Tease, you.

I had to google it too, but it was worth it. I found a picture of a Greek statue of a woman with nekkid hooters.

123. geoff - July 30, 2007

I hear that in Second Life, all the women gots nekkid hooters, ‘ceptin’ they’s some pixels in the way.

124. euphrosyne1115 - July 30, 2007

Wow. Thanks for the answer, Brewfan – and I really mean that.

125. euphrosyne1115 - July 30, 2007

“I had to google it too, but it was worth it. I found a picture of a Greek statue of a woman with nekkid hooters.”

Nekkid and FUNNY hooters, I hope.

126. Theology in Cyberspace; Confessions of a Heretic « Glad Games for the 21st Century - July 30, 2007

[…] were being quiet this weekend, I accidentally stumbled into a very interesting discussion of Virtual Evangelism at Innocent Bystanders, a comments site populated by seriously entertaining nrrds.  I initially […]

127. pollyannasunshine - July 30, 2007

Here’s what Euphrosyne really looks like, hooters and all. She pretends to a a Grace, but she’s really a Fury: http://www.beloit.edu/~classics/Trojan%20War%20Site/Web%20Site/Clytemnestra,%20Orestes,%20etc.%20Pages/Orestes_Pursued_by_Furies.htm

Told you she was hot. 🙂

128. BrewFan - July 30, 2007

Wow. Thanks for the answer, Brewfan – and I really mean that.

You’re welcome. My longest comment ever 🙂

129. pollyannasunshine - July 30, 2007

That’s Euphro. Bogarting my hotties since 1985.

130. Michael - July 30, 2007

Nekkid and FUNNY hooters, I hope.

Nekkid hooters always make me smile.

I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like.

131. Mr Minority - July 30, 2007

Pollyanna,
I have read your comments and your response to BrewFan’s comment, what I want to know is:

As a Catholic what is your response to BrewFan’s comment about being saved, grace and absolution and not having to be a part of an organized religion?

I am not asking this to pick on you or belittle your Catholicism, I just want to know what you think about it.

132. Sobek - July 30, 2007

Apparently we have an issue with whether Michael’s criticism of Spadaro is well-founded, so I took the liberty of reading the original article. All translations are mine.

“Imagine being able to make an alter ego that moves on the screen of a computer connected to the internet, according to your intentions… Imagine being able to make your own virtual representation; that is, your own image, your own virtual self … Imagine also choosing even the age, sexual identiy and the characteristics of your own body, but also the clothes and personal objects such as, for example, your car.”

In other words, escapism. This is a place to go be someone you are not. An amoral world with no consequences, mores or boundaries. This is a ripe new field for evangelization? A telling line: “Immagini ovviamente di non essere riconoscibile” (immagine you cannot be recognized…). Look, I’m not saying it’s impossible for the spirit to touch someone’s heart while they are using a computer, I’m just saying you’re not maximizing the efficient use of your proselyting time.

[As an aside, I now know the Italian word for “furry” (“animali antropomorfizzati”). My life feels more complete.]

“It’s not hard to imagine how a digital simulation world, where avatars can move ins a sufficiently fluid manner, can offer an almost open field for every form of simulated erotic expression, from prostitution to pedophilia.”

Ahem.

After a very long section on how Second Life works, Spadaro gets to the religious part. Apparently the Second Life world has numerous reproductions of famous cathedrals, mosques, etc.

“Here is the witness of a Swedish Muslim, Muhammad Yussif Widhe: ‘I put my avatar in a praying position and at the same time I pray. My prayer in my room is valid and my prayer on-line is symbolic.”

“Much more simple and proficua [I don’t know that word, and I don’t have a dictionary with me] is the possibility of having spiritual discussions. There are virtual churches in which you can find a minister capable of meeting those who enter and having a dialogue.”

That’s all true, of course. On-line communication is still communication, even if witnessing is more difficult because, as has been pointed out, the listener misses out on non-verbal cues like body language and tone of voice. And if someone approaches your Second Life character and asks you to tell them about Jesus, there’s no particular reason you can’t do so.

The final portion of the article is about “evaluating” Second Life. That is, the author discusses its relationship with culture and society (including a rejection of the idea of a parallel to literary “doubles,” as in Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), and whether it is a positive or negative influence.

I find that the bulk of the article has nothing whatsoever to do with “virtual evangelism.” The portion quoted by Michael, about how ” it needs to be understood … the best way to understand it is to enter it,” is made in the context of teachers and parents understanding what their children are up to, noting that it’s rash to condemn the game wholesale as evil, but naive to assume there is no danger there. And Spadaro’s reference to Second Life as “mission territory” is emphatically not a call for organized missionary work or funding of any kind — more of an afterthought to an article that is principally about what Second Life is.

133. pollyannasunshine - July 30, 2007

Oh, well, you know, that’s a super simple question. First, I’m not sure I really speak for all Catholics here (as lauraw would undoubtedly note); I just came out on my own blog as a heretic, so take that FWIW. A decent explanation of the official Catholic take on salvation is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvation_in_Catholicism#Individual_salvation and a more specific discussion of the differences between Catholic and Evangelical Protestant notions of salvation here: http://www.catholic.com/library/Assurance_of_Salvation.asp

My personal view is that salvation is not a matter of “getting into heaven” (which I do not believe in as a literal place) but rather of fully and deeply experiencing God’s grace. I do not personally believe that either Christianity in general or Catholicism in particular are the only way of getting to that point. The official position of the Catholic Church (set out in the Vatican II document Nostra Aetate) is that “The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in [other] religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men.” (The rather smug implication here, is of course, that the Catholic Church is just basking in the rays of Truth, but at least they admit it’s not an exclusive.)

I really don’t think it’s for me to question whether other people’s spiritual experiences are authentic or valid. But I’m pretty used to people making those kinds of judgments about mine. I grew up among fundamentalist Christians who constantly told me I was going to hell and work in a field dominated by atheists who I’m sure think I am a moron for going to church. So I’ve got a pretty thick skin about my own quirky little approach to faith.

134. pollyannasunshine - July 30, 2007

x-posted with Sobek. Thanks for the summary and translations! It actually sounds somewhat less interesting than I was hoping for, but oh well, at least I was right he wasn’t arguing for paid missionaries into Second Life.

135. Mr Minority - July 30, 2007

I grew up among fundamentalist Christians who constantly told me I was going to hell…

There are certain denominations that like to tell people that they are “going to hell”, and that is wrong, they are not the ones that decide a person’s place for eternity, that is God’s judgement. I am a Fundie, but you won’t hear me saying that to people, what you will hear me say is that you are missing out, and you are making the choice to either believe or not believe. Yes, even though the outcome is eternity in Hell, that is the individual’s decision, not mine.

Personally I think you are a little off with not believing that Heaven is an actual place, but that is also your decision, not mine.

The reason I asked the question I did is, that I believe a person does not need to belong to an organized religious sect to be in Grace, to be “saved” or to receive absolution for sin. A relationship with God is a one-on-one relationship, and the “Church” is a great place for like believers to fellowship, obtain maturity as a Christian, as a support group, but it is not a requirement for salvation, nor has it ever been. That is between you and God, and a priest/pastor doesn’t have to be involved.

136. Michael - July 30, 2007

Speaking of hooters, today’s Day By Day cartoon was pretty funny. (SFW)

137. daveintexas - July 30, 2007

I have new socks on!

138. Michael - July 30, 2007

BTW, Mr. Minority, Lutherans are on board with the notion that the church is not a requirement for salvation. In Luther’s time, this was a major break with Catholicism.

Lutherans would add, however, that if you are saved, why would you not want to participate in the body of Christ?

139. Michael - July 30, 2007

Put another way — the Holy Spirit does not operate in a vacuum. Rather, the Spirit works through the ministry of Word and Sacrament to edify God’s people.

The ministry of Word and Sacrament does not operate in a vacuum. It is administered by God’s people acting as the living embodiment of Christ on Earth, i.e., the Church.

140. quincy jessup - July 30, 2007

[Deleted by Site Administration for racist and defamatory content.]

141. Torquemada - July 30, 2007

Quincy,

ix-nay on the ooo-jay it-shay and atholic-Cay ashing-bay.

ignorant uthermucker-fay.

love ya XOXOXO

142. Torquemada - July 30, 2007

I think I messed that up.

utherfucker-may.

There!

ass.

143. Michael - July 30, 2007

Sobek, you dang litigator, why don’t you knock off all that casuisterousity you’re constantly confusing me with!

144. Mr Minority - July 30, 2007

…why would you not want to participate in the body of Christ?

I am totally with that, Michael. I was just specifying that it is not a requirement. And the reason I said that is, that there some Fundie churches (I know of 1 Pentecostal church here in Austin) that say if you don’t go to church (especially, their church) that you will go to Hell. Churches are great, to learn and gather with fellow Christians, but people need to be aware that churches are also filled with people and sinners that are fallible.

I go to church for the fellowship, but I also get turned off by the dogma. The best church I have found is a non-denominational church, and even in that church you hear man-made rules and dogma, so you can never get away from it. You just have to find the church/denomination that suits you and your beliefs, and sometimes that is hard to find.

Oh, and by the way, I was born and raised an Episcopalian, until they started going off the deep end in my opinion. Then I went through several non-denominational churches until I found the one I am in now. I consider myself an Evangelical Christian, but I am also not a bible thumper and hell & brimstone type. I feel that you can win a person over by preaching the Love of Jesus, not telling them that they are going to Hell unless they repent.

Oh, and Dave – Nice Socks! Are those Strawberry Shortcake socks?

145. Retired Geezer - July 30, 2007

Shark Socks.

146. Raymond Lee Quijano - July 30, 2007

we can spread the word of God through virtual word but we cannot be so sure about this…

147. Sobek - July 30, 2007

Quincy, we’re pretty lax with the rules around here, but we try to encourage a certain maximum threshold of crazy per word count (Wicked Pinto gets a special exception). You’ve totally blown past
your limit with that one comment, so you’re going to have devote the next ten comments to recipe-blogging.

Sorry to be so harsh, but someone has to enforce a little order around here.

148. Retired Geezer - July 30, 2007

Sooo… what would “Virtual Word” be in Greek?

Metalogos?

Just wondering.

BTW, I actually posted 4 things today on my moronblog; Bulls, Cameras, Attack Dogs and Fig leafs.

149. steve_in_hb - July 31, 2007

Sobek –

Please stop discouraging Quincy. Nowadays it’s very rare to get this particular vintage of hatred. Very quaint, very old fashioned. Like the horse drawn carriage rides you can take in NYC it’s a link to a different time. A time when doctors made house calls, milk was delivered to your door step, Jews were kikes, blacks were niggers, and Catholics were Papists. A time when a man could be a straight shooter and not have to use thinly veiled code words like “zionists”, “urban”, etc.

150. Michael - July 31, 2007

Sorry to be so harsh, but someone has to enforce a little order around here.

You know, Sobek, you got me reading Quincy’s comment again. At first I skimmed it and ignored it, because it wasn’t spam and just looked like some mental patient with too much time. It was so absurd that it actually kind of amused me. (Also, I liked his reference to the casuistry of lawyers. Or maybe Jesuits.)

A second look got me focussed on the fact that it was both blatantly racist and defamatory. I’m thinking we should not tolerate that, even from somebody who just forgot to take his meds. So, it’s gone.

151. Michael - July 31, 2007

Steve, I guess we posted at the same time. However, your words trouble me.

A time when doctors made house calls, milk was delivered to your door step, Jews were kikes, blacks were niggers, and Catholics were Papists.

Whoa, wait a minute. I call Catholics “Papists” all the time. It’s not like I’m a religious bigot or something. I’m just referring to the fact that they follow the Antichrist in Rome. Is that politically incorrect or something?

🙂

152. Michael - July 31, 2007

I mean, “Papist” is not intended as an insulting term, like “Calvinist.”

153. geoff - July 31, 2007

Is that politically incorrect or something?

It would be very hurtful if it wasn’t coming from a member of an obscure splinter sect.

154. steve_in_hb - July 31, 2007

We have to give Quincy time to breathe if we want to fully develop the complex flavors he’s capable of offering us. We’ll know it’s time to drink deep when he breaks out a truly archaic word like “octamaroon”.

Michael –

You guys are just quibbling over differing details of your imaginary friend, so how could anybody be offended by your words? 😉

155. Michael - July 31, 2007

Speaking of Catholics, Steve, I’m sure you will be excited to learn that Sparkle is thinking about blogging again, only now she is going to be “Texas Sparkle”.

You guys are just quibbling over differing details of your imaginary friend, so how could anybody be offended by your words?

Beats me, but I keep trying.

156. eddiebear - July 31, 2007

Sobek;

Sounds like a penance after I went to Confession. And the worst part is that the confessionals were in front of church for everyone to see.

157. Michael - July 31, 2007

And, as long as we’re talking about godless hell-bound atheists like Steve — Andy at World Wide Rant just had a new baby. You can see pics of World Wide Runt #3 right here.

158. Michael - July 31, 2007

It would be very hurtful if it wasn’t coming from a member of an obscure splinter sect.

Lutherans are not real big in North America. The Baptists are huge by comparison. But I read somewhere that worldwide we are the largest “splinter sect” (i.e., the largest Protestant confessional body). Given the Lutheran domination of northern Europe, I’m thinking that might be true.

No matter. When the Lutheran Millennium™ begins, all such comparisons will be irrelevant.

159. sobek - July 31, 2007

Michael, I’m actually a little sorry to see that comment go. It would have been better to ban the guy and preserve the comment for posterity. Steve_in_hb is right: this kind of lunacy could have used some time to fully develop.

160. pollyannasunshine - July 31, 2007

I must say that I am also sad that Quincy’s delightful rant has been purged. I must say that in all the years I was told by my classmates that I worshipped the Pope and the Virgin Mary and was going to hell, noone ever gratified me with as impressive an account of my people’s successful efforts at total world domination. Man, he gave us credit for stuff that I thought only the Jews and the Freemasons were supposed to have been responsible for. And you know he was totally right about the connections between Jesuits and lawyers–there are no less than 14 Jesuit law schools in the US just churning out the casuistry. I must say it is quite flattering to be identified with such a very elaborate conspiracy theory. I haven’t been so flattered since Pat Robertson announced that “Feminism is a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” Because although I am very fond of my husband and child, the rest of it sounds like quite a lot of fun.

Michael, what kind of Lutheran are you? My understanding is that it is only the Missouri synod that clings to the antichrist thing while the ELCA is inclined to assume everybody is just as nice and well-intentioned as they are. Very Pollyannaish denomination, the ELCA. Aren’t those the kind that rule Minnesota? I adore Minnesota. It’s like a whole state full of Pollyannas. Yep. Youbetcha.

161. daveintexas - July 31, 2007

Michael, what kind of Lutheran are you?

He’s the annoying kind.

162. eddiebear - July 31, 2007

160

The lutefish eating kind.

163. eddiebear - July 31, 2007

Actually, Michael did spend some time in St. Louis. I wonder how that plays into the equation.

164. daveintexas - July 31, 2007

Lutefisk and Budweiser.

165. eddiebear - July 31, 2007

Michael:

When the Missus and I lived in Scandinavia, we did manage to find an English Speaking Catholic Church in Copenhagen. Naturlich, it was in their equivalent of Skid Row.

166. daveintexas - July 31, 2007

more heartache

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070731/ap_on_re_us/church_abuse_bankruptcy

San Diego parish filed for bankruptcy back in Feb just as 140 cases were about to go to trial. The bankruptcy judge says the audit results show deliberate mishandling or attempts to hide funds.

167. Michael - July 31, 2007

We were both lifelong Missouri Synod until we finally got fed up and switched to ELCA a few years ago.

168. Pupster - July 31, 2007

“Feminism is a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” “Because although I am very fond of my husband and child, the rest of it sounds like quite a lot of fun.”

Pollyanna, leave capitalism alone, and video the rest.

169. pollyannasunshine - July 31, 2007

No way, man. My kid is sacred. Capitalism is toast. Lesbian witchcraft I’m totally up for, though. But you can already see that on Buffy. HOT. 🙂

170. Retired Geezer - August 1, 2007

UPDATE:
Apparently Second Life is really a Training ground for Terrorists.

171. Retired Geezer - August 1, 2007
172. Pastor Erasme Sindayigaya - December 9, 2007

Dear Brethren;

Praise the Lord, how are you?
I would like to send my greetings to you, your families and your Ministries members.

Dear brethrens in Christ,
I hereby to invite you in our nation, for assist us in load task we have. I assure you that as your Vision focusted to the whole world, I pray you to remind our nation. your ministries are needed in our nation of Rwanda, even in our region.

for knowing more our Nation, our vision, and our action Plan are found below.

* Rwanda is a beautiful little country located in East Africa . It is nicknamed “Land of a Thousand Hills”. It is known for its beautiful terrain and Mountain Gorillas. It has great temperatures and good rainfall. But for all of its beauty, it is plagued by us memory of the 1994 genocide.
That horrible genocide took nearly one million of her people and has left a deep wound in this tiny country. Many of those displaced by the war have returned to their homes, but the scars remain. Many are homeless, unemployed, or still suffer from the physical or mental pain of the war.
Many improvements have been made in recent years, but only Jesus Christ can bring permanent peace to people?s souls and to our country.
Rwanda needs faithful servants of the Lord – now more than ever – to offer hope and healing that is found in the Gospel. Please, help us as we try to help them.
Population: 9.7 Million Souls
Income: Average job in capital: $ 70 per month
University Professor: $ 350 per month
Religions: Catholic, Pentecostal, Muslims, animists
Languages: French, Kinyarwanda, English
Capital: Kigali ? 1,000,000 souls
Country: 154 miles x 103 miles
Climate: 75?F Average temperature
2 rainy seasons per year

For Further Information:
World Fact book
World Atlas

*Our Church’s Name: Pentecostal Outreach Ministries:

is a new church arised in our region from 2002 for restore the hope of our people and to bring all souls to Christ through the word of God.

Our Mission …

Our mission is to reach and teach every one we can the saving gospel of Jesus Christ; to train and equip the believer to grow in the knowledge of the scriptures and grace of the Holy Spirit; to help them to find their ministry in the body of Christ; and to embrace the mission of the Church to this generation.

“But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto me … unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:8 KJV

* Our action Plan in 5 years: (2008-2012).

1. Churches planting at least two hundred churches in our nation.
2. Starting a bible school to all preachers for shape them in their ministries, it will have a standard of regional (east and central Africa ).
3. International Crusades and Seminars (regionally).
4. Prisons and refugees camps preaching
5. Radio and television station of Gospel broad cast in our region
6. Technical schools for the children left their schools.
7. To Establish a Ministry called “Restoration of Hope Ministry” for meet the needs of orphans, window, street kids, HIV/Affected and Sick, refugees, and other needs in our region.
8. To establish a fund called “African’s Children in Education Fund? to the children who lack the means of school attendance in our Nation.
9. starting a School from nursery to secondary in our nation.

Your intervention is needed.

What is your contribution for Africa ? in which line you will support us? if there are any lines you determine to support, we are realdy to give you a structure of that project.
God bless you so much for your heart of compassion toward on Africa .

Urgent Request: Sir, now we have Evangelism team by name of “Eagle’s hunt” for ambition of changing a region with Gospel of peace thought in Jesus name. We found all needs except music instruments set for preaching many in on time. If you are the one who filling to support evangelism in this last days, you may support our team for finding this instruments. And a crown of changing many to Christ we will share it.

I am waiting your favorable response soon as possible.
Greet all saints.

For more information contact us :

Coordinator:
Pastor Erasmus SINDAYIGAYA.
Tel. +(250) 08531335
E-mail: erasme20042000@yahoo.com
P.O.Box: 17 Nyagatare
Nyagatare District
Eastern Province
Kigali – Rwanda


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