Sometimes, your newsfeed does strange things. After I got done with my day job I took a break and made the mistake of scrolling for a few minutes before I moved on to the next task of the day. Someday, I’m going to learn my lesson with that. But I did run across a video titled:
“I Went to a Metaverse Virtual Reality Church! / WOW! HERESY EXPOSED!”
Of course, I had to click on it. A bit of biographical exposition is needed here. I went to college with the intent of becoming a priest. Flash forward a number of years to a moment when an older priest told me on the sly that my diocese was not ordaining straight white men at the moment, and I should bide my time until the leadership changed or changed its mind. Which is funny in retrospect since I was still a faithful lefty back then and would probably have had zero issues with any woke policies. I don’t remember what word we used for it at the time, but you get the point. Since I didn’t know when the regime change would happen or if it ever would, I decided not to waste my time waiting. Apparently, my denomination welcomed everyone but people like me. Later, when I was an evangelical, I wanted to be a pastor so I earned a master of arts in theological studies. That took two years; when I was done, the only jobs that seemed to be available were for youth pastors with–and I quote– “awesome Kan Jam skills.” I wasn’t interested in youth ministry and I do not have awesome Kan Jam skills. Furthermore, I have no desire to develop awesome Kan Jam skills. I don’t know of any functioning adults who do. And if your idea of effective ministry is predicated on the ability to throw a disk into a can, then a Metaverse virtual reality church may be just what your elders ordered. Watch and be amused amazed!
Now, I realize not everyone has the beliefs that I do and I will leave it to you cats in the comment section to argue about the theology presented in the video. But I think that no matter what denomination or doctrine you adhere to, we can all get together on a couple of things. 1) The Gospels are NOT the first few books of the Bible, and 2) Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, SpongeBob SquarePants, and a giant banana should not be a part of anyone’s baptism. Virtual or otherwise. It’s also noteworthy that the pastor that the creator interviewed took the time to make sure his avatar had the requisite day’s growth of beard, hoodie, and hipster glasses.
Yes, I know, the cries will go up that churches need to be hip and seeker-sensitive to draw the crowds. While I am no longer an evangelical, Charles Spurgeon had a serious point when he said, “A time will come when instead of shepherds feeding the sheep, the church will have clowns entertaining the goats.” Which could be one of the serious hazards of church in the Metaverse. If we take something as serious and sacred as worship and turn it into Minecraft, then worship is no longer worship. It is a mild, somewhat boring RPG that you can tune in or tune out depending on your interest level. The ecclesia will be diluted. And before you start, I know that plenty of churches out there have turned to ridiculous stunts, rock concerts, and preaching that sounds like an MLM protein shake/downliner pitch to get butts in the pews. But that is another column for another time.
The real danger of course, is meta itself. In case you haven’t noticed, H.R.H. Mark Zuckerberg’s goals often do not quite align with your best interests. Case in point of how Lord Z. colors outside the lines: Remember how people were taking time before meetings and presentations to talk about how their buildings were on stolen land and then named the displaced tribes that used to live there? Well, that form of repentance is for people like us, not Zuckerberg. Especially when it comes to buying land on Kauai over the objections of native Hawaiians. I guess the rights of indigenous people don’t apply to the elite class. They have different rules than we do. The billionaires who don’t want ATVs ruining their views of the local mountains and forests have no problem building a McMansion on the same location. And I’m not even an ATV fan. Gavin Newsom, the 21st century equivalent of a 1600s fop, prancing around in lace and brandishing his rapier for the hell of it, enjoyed dinner at The French Laundry while people around his state and the nation formed food lines.
When Meta was introduced, I thought “Great! Shorter lines at the store and less traffic. All the lemmings will be sitting at home drooling under their headsets. My wife and I can camp without being disturbed, enjoy hiking without distractions, and will have no problem getting a table at our favorite wine bar or restaurant.” But after viewing that video, I’m not so sure.
How long will it take for Meta to go from being the next big thing, to a strong suggestion, to a mandate? At what point will you hear that you are not permitted to go shopping or to church, visit the Grand Canyon, attend a baseball game, down a few at your local watering hole, or even see your family? All because you need to limit your carbon footprint, be protected from right-wing extremism, or because we still need 150 years to slow the spread? What happens when Meta is the only place you will be allowed to go? Is Meta here to expand your horizons or keep you in your stall?
One thing is for certain:Zuckerberg, the rest of the techcrati, and other people of means will not be limited to a virtual hike or, in Zuck’s case, virtual surfing. Newsom will not be enjoying a virtual tasting in a Napa Valley winery. He’ll be downing the real deal in a serene setting. In fact, the world will probably be their oyster. Even more so with annoying people like you and me out of the way. Your life, on the other hand, will consist of sullenly suckling on the latest version of what Harlan Ellison called the Glass Teat. And waiting for Amazon to deliver your sack of food pellets.
Enjoy the world while you still can. Hell, improve your Kan Jam skills while you can still go outside.
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