Sunday, April 15, 2012

The challenging nature of St Matt's in Second Life (Part Two)

Chaz here.

This is part two of a three-part posting.

In part one, I started the "caught in the middle" challenge that I think St Matt's lives in, and showed how on one hand, we can be seen as a "band of refugees and rejects" from the Anglican Epiphany Cathedral. Based on that crucial experience, I postulated that part of our mission might be seen as maintaining a presence and a safe place for all those in SL whom the Church virtual or non-virtual has battered, bruised and rejected, and to be a voice of reason and normality for them.

Well, the second part of the equation is that, amusingly and ironically, we also frankly face rejection from the people that we want to "be there" for. And with good reason!

To them, the Church in any form is Public Enemy Number one.

The Church (and by that I mean the broader church, too) has done such a thoroughly bang-up good job of battering, bruising and rejecting people that these victims of the Church's ministrations don't want anything at all to do with Church in any way, shape or form now!

To make things worse, later in life many decided to give church one more shot based on the infamous "all are welcome" sign out front, only to discover that those words are code for "just wear the appropriate scarlet letter until we deal with you." Who can blame these people that their motto is now, "Fool me twice, shame on me."

Consequently, they've rejected the very concept of Church so completely from their lives that a mere mention of it brings either knowing smirks and rolled eyes, or waves of bitterness and anger.

The media doesn't help things a whole heck of a lot, either. The American association GLAAD commissioned an independent study by the University of Missouri Center on Religion & the Professions entitled, 'Missing Voices: A study of religious voices in mainstream media reports about LGBT equality'.
The findings confirm that despite growing public support for LGBT people across faith traditions, the media highlight a disproportionate number of anti-LGBT religious voices in the media. Three out of four religious messages about gay or transgender people come from religious groups that have formal policies, decrees, or culture opposing equality. Unsurprisingly, messages from those sources were overwhelmingly negative.... when in reality they speak for a very narrow viewpoint that is becoming progressively narrower within religious circles....Mainstream media uses far fewer voices from the gay-affirming, or even moderate, religious traditions.[1]
So, what do we at St Matt's do, given that we don't have the resources and time, nor I think the inclination, to stand at SL's main teleport hubs foisting leaflets on people (and getting abuse-reported, no doubt) telling them that they just "misunderstood" church in the past.

Because they didn't! They got it all too well.

Well, what we should do additionally in the future is I think still an ongoing "pondering" process. But I think we do one thing quite well right now. We place adverts, give out promo freebies, etc, just to let people know of our existence should they be interested. And each night, we gather and light a candle in our midst as twilight fades so that anyone interested can find us in the middle of the forest.

Click here for part three.


 [1] Ross, Murray. Where Are the Pro-LGBT Religious Voices in Mainstream Media? Huffington Post. 12 April 2012. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ross-murray/pro-lgbt-christian-voices_b_1418604.html

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