Friday, March 12, 2010


A small discipline in Second Life spiritual life

One of the things we are confronted with in the modern world, but especially when we are online, is aggressive multitasking.

Especially when we are trying to turn our hearts and thoughts toward God in prayer, it is easy to let distractions turn us aside from what we are doing.

In "real world" communal prayer, we have others around us - so we are more likely to turn off cell phones, refrain from standing up and doing something else, etc. etc..

When we pray together online, it is all the easier to be inauthentic.

Some tips for praying online, which amount to a bit of "discipline" one can hold one's self to:

1) When I am praying with others, if I have to leave my seat, or need to tend to something else, like an instant message, e-mail, etc. etc.: I will:
- If I am kneeling, I will stand up and leave the gathering, just as I would leave if I need to run to the toilet, etc. etc., when I am in a "real life" gathering. I will inform the others present that I will be back in just a moment - like, "brb, 1 minute," "brb 5 minutes."

This is a matter of courtesy to the others, and keeps us accountable, and "really there." There are cases where it's understandable that someone wants to be doing something else during a Bible study, but leave the screen open to watch and see what is happening when one is able to. But this unfortunately can lead to the side effects of the gathering becoming less "real" - sometimes your online representation will be a real, responsive "you" - at others, it will simply be a zombie placemarker, unresponsive, with "you" being somewhere else.

For the meeting to be "real", it needs to have this dimension of reality at least: that those who represent themselves as present, are present.

If you need to be doing other things but wish to somehow have the prayer meeting "broadcasted" to you, do something to indicate that you "aren't really there." Change your screen name to Myname-AFK or your status - if you are in a three-dimensional setting, place your avatar somewhere, where it's obvious that you aren't a full participant.

If you do have something to say during the meeting, in moments you are able to turn your attention back to prayer, you can either change your status at the moments that you really are present, or occupied with prayer, back to a more "active" looking status, or you can

2) When I am praying alone [in a 3D virtual world setting, like Second Life], I will keep the discipline of only kneeling when I am actually praying, or trying to pray; if I have to answer an instant message, or get up from my seat, I will stand up and leave the chapel.

This one seems less obvious. There are no other people present that you aren't responding to.

Years ago, when I was discussing problems sleeping with a friend, my friend told me that he only lies in bed, if he really intends to sleep. He never gets in bed just to rest, or for any other purpose.

The reason was: places, and the positions we take, are very important in creating associations, and even making things possible for us. My friend found that the more he associated lying down in his bed with sleeping, the more likely he was to actually sleep, when he was lying down in his bed.

I have found something similar to be the case with prayer in Second Life. I frequently kneel. But sometimes, I kneel to begin praying, and then am distracted by something, and begin doing something else. After finishing the other task, I turn back, and there is my avatar, still kneeling, as if I had never been away.

It may be rather "nice" to think that the avatar was still there kneeling, though the "real me" was answering an instant message - and that somehow, this avatar was perhaps "praying" for me.

We should remember though that a strong part of the Second Life experience is the association of our avatars with what we are really doing, and who, in some sense, we really are. This means that if I then "dissociate" my real life activity from what my avatar is doing, in order to leave my avatar praying - I will no longer associate my real life behavior of prayer with kneeling when I am in Second Life. God cares about our "real" prayers, and not about the presence of some avatar which we imagine to be praying. Real people pray - avatars do not.

So keep kneeling in Second Life, and visiting a chapel, associated with real, genuine prayer. Dissociate it as much as you can from roleplay or fantasy. We do not serve a roleplay God or a fantasy God; and God does not want our imagined selves petitioning, praising, and serving Him, but our real selves. You will find that when you are tempted to be distracted, you will be better fit to resist the distraction if you first require of yourself that you get up from kneeling and leave the chapel.


In order to accommodate this, it probably makes sense to set things up in an appropriate way. E.g., I've put down a couple of chairs at the back of the chapel, in case people are praying, but at one moment, someone needs to leave for a few minutes, or wishes to continue to "hear" the prayers, while doing something else. It's important that we let people do what they need to do without judging them, and allow them to gracefully leave if they need to, without having to apologize excessively.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Prayers for week of June 27

Irene -- For my relationship with my friend.

Rhianwen -- For all who were at Zoe and Justin's weddoimng today and Sam and Monica's last week
That those who came for a party heard the Good News and will remember it.

Kerry -- pray that I will do what God thinks is right, not what I think in regard to this friend. And that God will give this man wisdom.

ZoeRose -- Prayers for my dad, now in his 70s and going through some tests. That he'll be healthy

Able -- For my mum that the results of medical tests she is having are positive. Secondly that God might really speak to her at the service a week tomorrow. (ie. Able's ordination.)

Joyous -- For discernment in what I should be doing when I retire.

Wilfried -- for guidance and for obedience

Ruby -- strength and faith in God; also must speak at a rather large event and is nervous.

Thanks, Joyous, for noting them down!

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Prayer requests for week of June 21

Sorry they're so late, folks!

Helene: For wisdom in her new leadership responsiblities as Lay Pastor at the Cathedral. For patience and tolerance in her new role as it challenges some.

ZoeRose: I ask for prayers as I continue in my new job. I am very thankful to the Lord for this new adventure! I ask for travel mercies as I fly to Ft. Worth for the ACNA Assembly - I'll be writing about it and reporting on it.

JulieAnnRose Serenity: pray that my hubby is feeling well enough to enjoy next weekend as we celebrate our anniversary.

MingLynn Lionheart: Remaining positive amongst chaos and bleek economic times. Pray for provision.

Wilfried: Pray for the formation of the ACNA. Pray for God's will to be done.

Joyous Schism: for discernment on where I should be going next in my life, particularly whether I should be taking retirement now - what is the right way to spend my time and energy?

For Ruby as she makes decisions.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Book of James on audio

A tip from Helene: the book of James is available in audio -

Monday, June 8, 2009


Prayer requests 6 May 2009

Joyous: Facing a decision regarding whether to take early retirement. That she would clearly know what she should do over the offer she had at work to retire. If she accepts it, she would also like clear guidance about what direction she should take with her life.

Ruby: Friend Joanne took an overdose early Friday morning. Pray for Ruby for strength, wisdom. She feels empty and stressed. Ruby's church is up for sale and they have an opportunity to buy the building, but they need to raise circa £30k to do so by this Wednesday

Irene: I need direction about my job. I want to do what God wants me to. I am having trouble letting go of some hurt and anger I feel at work.

Able: For good endings, closure and new beginnings all with God at the centre - and that God would restore my soul. That God might speak to this person in SL who was character assassinated in a Christian group.

Helene: I need to use the next three months well to establish a good routine, in case I am recommended to start training at theological college

JulieAnnRose Serenity: for Samantha who is a satanist - for her salvation

Rhianwen: Thank you for answered prayer re technical things and that they will keep going

Wilfried: For peace, wisdom, and obedience

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Notes on James 2

Able Shepherd has provided us with some notes, questions, and discussion points for James 2:

James 1
Rollover question from last week’s study...Why does James never quote Jesus?

James 2
1. What do verses 1 to 13 say about our tendency to form cliques in church?
2. How effective are our churches in welcoming?
3. How do verses 2:1-7 engage with our own cultures approach to wealth and poverty?
4. How could these verse shape our ministry to those in congregation who are involved in business?
5. How might Matthew 25:31-46 change our understanding of this? (See also the account of the widows mite, and treasure in heaven)
6. Does James’ teaching on faith and works in James 2:14-26 conflict with Paul’s teaching on this matter?

a) The issue for James is NOT ‘Can faith save?’ but ‘Can dead faith save?’
b) The issue is NOT between salvation by faith in Christ and salvation by works
c) ‘Dead faith’ (intellectual orthodoxy) cannot save (2:14), is only a verbal thing (‘if someone CLAIMS to have faith’, 2:14) and does not show love (2:15f)
d) Paul and James agree that faith and the obedience proceeding from it are not antithetical but work together. For Paul, what really matters is ‘faith WORKING (same Greek root as ‘works’ in James) through love’ (Gal 5:6)
e) Abraham was justified before God (approved) long before he was shown to be righteous by his offering of Isaac (Gen 15, Gen 22)
f) ‘Faith alone justifies, but faith that justifies is never alone’

For the geeks out there, James can be analysed from a Multiple Intelligence Theory perspective. If you want to know more, let me know!

We will return to some of the above issues again later in James.

Yours in Christ


Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Prayer requests 16 May 2009

Joyous: guidance in a couple of decisions

Saskia: strength and wlsdom ln certaln thlngs

lrene: Please pray for my continued healing and for peace in my family.

Rhianwen: For my friend J ho was recovering well from an injury but now is unhappy and disappointed because it's getting worse again.

Wilfried: that I am free from anxiety and do all that God wants me to do - that I OBEY and Carry through !

MingLynn: Please keep and comgort my Godmother, Mary Francis Clark in her battle with breast cancer at age 84.

Able: having a meeting with the bishop - that it goes well

Sunday, May 17, 2009


A visualization of James 1 by Able Shepherd

Able has created for us a verbal visualization of the first chapter of James using - interesting for thinking back on this chapter:

Saturday, May 16, 2009


James 1, second half - "Carrying through"

"Carrying through"

Before we read the passage together, I'd like you to think about this question - what do:
- shooting a gun
- taking a photograph
- what a conductor does when conducting the last few seconds of a piece of music

have in common? Hint: these have to do with the very "end" in the sense of "last part" of each of these actions - but also the "end" in the sense of "goal" or "final result", as in "the end justifies the means"

- what does vv 19-20 have to do with carrying through?

- have you had any experiences which are like this man and his mirror, in verse 23? What are the elements of this metaphor?

- type out the whole verse 25 to me in IM.

- we sometimes have a tendency to "objectify" things - what does this word mean, and can we objectify "faith"? Another word, which sounds a bit more hoity-toity - is "reify" - this means, "making a thing out of something."

Saturday, May 9, 2009


Prayer requests for May 9

Helene: big decision to make regarding work need a lot of wisdom.

Saskia: lnsplratlon for my asslgnments.
wlsdom regardng a few matters

Liliana : keeping my spirits up
have an open sore from the burns on my neck that is giving me a lot of trouble.

Able:been to a meetlng at college meeting concerns a friend pray that God's will might be done, and that somehow, whatever the outcome, it might be turned to his glory.

Joyous: for my friend Chris. She had been providing care for her elderly mother, who recently died. And now she is caring for her father, with whom she has a difficult hisory.

Charlie: - for Margarita's counselling, and for our friendship.

Rhlanwen: for three firends who are enduring and ask that they be sustained by an awareness of the presence of Jesus.

Wilf: that God helps me focus on what I need to focus on in this coming week