Archive for the ‘Religion’ Tag

Second Life Churches — St. Luke’s Episcopal Parish

St Luke's Episcopal Parish, Nestor 15,166,104_001

St. Luke’s Episcopal is a parish that looks to be thriving in the midst of a mainland continent.  The animated sign outside the building (which smacks of Spanish mission architecture to me, similar to the Alamo) shows regular services.  The parish has a long, relatively narrow piece of land here, and they’ve screened out some of their neighbors with solid walls and a bit of landscaping — though there’s little around them aside from a high-rise (out of frame) that blares for commercial attention.

St Luke's Episcopal Parish, Nestor 15,166,104_003

The sanctuary itself is also quite pretty — as you can see here, it’s hung in Sarum blue for Advent.  There are icons of Saint Luke on the pillars, and the feel is that of a European-style church that has been in use for many years, since perhaps the 1600s or so.

  • This is my third year of an Advent tradition of looking at churches around Second Life, following my annual hosting of the Holy Family statues for the Anglican Cathedral in Second Life’s Posada progress.  For other articles, you can search the blog.


Second Life Churches — Old High Church, Inverness City

Every year, during Advent, I look for a few nicely built churches, preferably with active congregations, to show the different places of worship available for us as avatars.  Some might debate the sanctity of these places; but it’s my opinion that the faith of the congregation and its practices are what bring sanctity to the place.

Old High Church, Inverness City 213,116,23_001

For instance, take the Old High Church in Inverness City region.  Set apart from the commercial street on its own plot of ground, it’s a pretty stone church built in a style that would look at home in Inverness or Edinburgh in the Real World.  The builders took care with the grounds here, and included such touches as the memorial you see in the corner, which points to a local castle….

Old High Church, Inverness City 213,116,23_003

And a small patch of graveyard, with a memorial tablet to the dead from World War I.  (The two wings were added following World War II.)

Old High Church, Inverness City 213,116,23_004

The sanctuary is warm and lovely, with room for about 20.  Services are held Sundays at 9:30 a.m. SLT.  I’m not sure what the denomination is, but I think it’s either Church of England or Scotland (which is a variant on the Church of England).


Posada 2012 at Harper’s Place

Posada 2012

It was a happiness to again host the statues of Mary and Joseph for this year’s Posada progress, part of the advent celebrations by the Anglican Cathedral in Second Life.  Here I am with two of the visitors I had through the day, Nancy Braveheart and Supergrade Berliner.

If you would like to follow the Holy Family’s journey to the Cathedral (which they will reach on Christmas Eve), contact Helene Milena in world, or join the Cathedral group.  The landmark to the next destination is sent out in group announcements each day.


Posted December 6, 2012 by Harper Ganesvoort in Personal, Religion

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The Sistine Chapel in Second Life

Believe it or not, this isn’t Real Life in the photo above.  I shot this photo this morning in the reproduction of the Sistine Chapel at Vassar Island; and you can see the quality of the builder’s work here for the most part in “pasting” the image textures onto the prims.  Only the joint lines between the vault of the ceiling and the pointed arches over the windows show traces of artifact.  The builder put this together from a series of photographs to reduce the distortion found in many photos of this semicircular work of art.  You can see where inexperience and the physical limitations of 2006 in Second Life show up in the lack of joins between the ceiling and the walls — but the eye is drawn away from the physicality of material to the glory of the art created via papal command by Michelangelo Buonarroti.

According to The Writer’s Almanac, All Saints’ Day (November 1), this day in 1512, was the day on which Pope Julius II allowed people beyond himself, the artist Michelangelo (and probably the pope’s immediate circle) to see the frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel for the first time.  Avatars who complain about the difficulty of building or creating anything in Second Life should read the history of what Michelangelo had to go through to execute the commission for this huge set of frescoes.  This, obviously, was not a single day’s work — we’re talking the Sixteenth Century, after all — but it took much more than a few days, as well.  It took four years for him to finish the frescoes, between 1508-1512, and part of the effort (according to Wikipedia) was due to his own fault in negotiating for a far grander scheme than Julius was planning on.  He complained bitterly that he was a sculptor, not a painter, and actually tried to bug out from the work when the “warrior pope” was diverted by a conflict with France.  Once the fighting was over, Julius told Michelangelo to get to Rome and start up, and the artist had no choice but to begin. Read the rest of this entry »

In-World Church Sacraments?

The Anglican Cathedral in Second Life is up at the top of the hill, with its associated chapel in the foreground.

Occasional discussion has been popping up again within the past months on religion in virtual worlds such as Second Life.  As I’m a believer in the validity of at least some aspects of religious practice in world — I’ve devoted over 20 articles here to my activities at the Anglican Cathedral in Epiphany region — I’ve been curious about the matter, and would like to weigh in briefly.

First, let’s get the groundwork out of the way.  Most people, at least, don’t particularly worry about church sacraments unless they happen to be a member of churches in the “liturgical tradition” — such as the Roman Catholic Church, the Episcopal Church (or its various other sisters in the Anglican Communion), or the Lutheran Church.  Sacraments are defined in the Christian tradition as “a Christian rite (as baptism or the Eucharist) that is believed to have been ordained by Christ and that is held to be a means of divine grace or to be a sign or symbol of a spiritual reality.” (Merriam-Webster Online).  Since the fracturing of the Catholic Church during the Reformation, there has not been a complete agreement on how many of the “great rites” are true sacraments — gotta love doctrinal wars, don’t ya?  The Catholics give seven:  baptism, confirmation in the church, Holy Eucharist (Mass), penance (confession), anointing of the sick, holy orders and matrimony.  Anglicans see only two, baptism and the Eucharist, as “true” sacraments, as they were directly instituted or sanctioned by Christ; the Orthodox traditions call the list of seven the “major sacraments,” but see almost anything the Church does as being of a sacramental nature.  You can see how messy this gets in the long run; arguments over such things have resulted in many a schism over the past twenty centuries.

Read the rest of this entry »

Welcome to Spirit Gate

I was preparing  logging in yesterday when I noticed one of the Destination Guide items – a place called Spirit Gate, which billed itself as a telehub for locations of a religious or spiritual nature. I’ve long been interested in the spiritual side of Second Life, and so I teleported in to investigate.

Spirit Gate is run by a relative newcomer to Second Life, calling himself GreatHeart.  He tells me that he came onto the Grid looking for “spiritual community,” and found that there was little coordination of how such things were listed for Residents to locate.  He decided to create a sort of clearing house for that purpose, and has been working with another avatar, Mahsoobk Violet, to create such a place.  Mahsoobk is responsible for the build, on a plot of rented land in Sallow region on the Mainland.  Here all faiths are welcome; the “store” contains vendor cards that hand out teleports to various locations that have consented to add their presence to his mission.  While visiting, I found teleports for Jewish locations, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, even Baha’i and Jainism.  Clearly, Residents seek the spiritual even in the virtual world.

GreatHeart reports that over 20 religious groups showed up at his grand opening with interest in participating, and SpiritGate’s addition to the Destination Guide has brought in visitors beyond myself.  He is now working on another location in addition to this, which he calls “SpiritDream.”

You can follow SpiritGate’s activities at their blog.  It’s still early days on that, but may be worth watching for the future.

Posted June 13, 2012 by Harper Ganesvoort in Religion

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Ash Wednesday

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return….

Photographed at the Anglican Cathedral in Second Life

Merry Christmas 2011

Stained glass by Kenneth Gedling

“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined….  For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah, Chapter 9

As always, but most especially at this time of year, may your days be peaceful and blessed, and may the promise of the season dwell within your heart and your family’s, wherever you are in Real Life or Second Life.

Second Life Churches — Saint Magnus Kirk

The region of Hinterland Orkney takes its looks and atmosphere from the RL Orkney Islands off the northern coast of Scotland.  You cannot call it a desolate place, depending on what part you’re in; but it is rocky and hilly, and the North Sea climate is not given to large stands of trees together.  It’s a perfect place for something like Saint Magnus Kirk.  Built out of the local rock, the church is dedicated to the martyred Lord Magnus of Orkney, and was built in memory of the friend of the landowner.  It’s surrounded by a churchyard given to graves and memorials.

Interior, with flags of the Orkney Islands, Scotland and Great Britain.

This is not a church with a regular congregation; rather, it’s a place of prayer, of meditation and memorial.  The two slabs to the sides of the altar are memorial “plaques,” and the owner is willing to add reasonable monuments for others, up to 4 prims total.

Note here the wall carving with a candle burning beneath it; I would say, based on the inscription above it — “Saint Magnus, pray for us” — that this is a memorial to the saint himself.

Second Life Churches — Ristikiven kirkko in Kirkkosaari

During this time of the year, I like to take a look at one or two churches beyond my own virtual parish of the Anglican Cathedral in Second Life.  This year I’m returning to Finland, in a sense, for one.

The Ristikiven kirkko, or Stone Cross Church, is a Finnish Lutheran church, located on an island with several Finnish churches.  This one is definitely modeled after a RL location, described (in Finnish) on this Web page.  The sanctuary, as you can see, is open to the sky, and is nestled up against a hillside.  The “pews” are simply logs laid out for worshipers to sit upon.

This beautiful little church played host to the Holy Family on Posada a few days after I hosted them myself.

The church’s main feature, which gives it its name, is the altar stone.  If you look carefully in the cleft to the right of the drape and lantern, you will see a naturally occurring cross in the rock.  I’m not sure if the RL church was built around this boulder, or if it was moved to a flatter site and then the church built.  (There is some description of how the rock was found on their page, but Google Translate leaves something to be desired.)

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