And if we play it like St. Paul in the metaverse?

Did St. Paul ride a digital boat to evangelize the metaverse? This is an incredible idea. For digital strategies expert Thomas Ka, the metaverse and its virtual reality, after the Internet, could be a fertile space for the Christian Church.

The metaverse (from English metaverse) is it a gift from God? Means of communication are like the Internet in any case for the Catholic Church. And this new three-dimensional virtual reality space where Facebook, which has become a Meta group, is betting is already beginning to attract the most connected Christians. Virtual or augmented reality, immersive education, digital meeting room… “3D spaces in the metaverse will allow you to make links, learn, collaborate and play in ways never imagined”, announced Mark Zuckerberg and his Meta group. A place that, during incarceration, was used by some American Christians to praise online and in the community thanks to virtual reality glasses. Recently, the site Fortune.com dedicates a file in question, proof that this practice seems to want to be resolved, even after incarcerations.

Launch your Christian metaverse in three days

A church in the metaverse in three days: this is the promise, for example, of VRchurch, a virtual reality church created in 2016. It recently aired a conference that lasted nearly three hours to teach you how to launch an evangelism space in the metaverse. A conference full of lessons that can be added by reading a report published at the end of 2021 dedicated to the question of a “phygital” church (Digital Hybrid ‘Phygital’ Model for the Church). This study examines the practices and especially the technique needed to evangelize metaverse. According to Jeff Reed, director of Metaverse Church NEXT:

The ecclesiology of a virtual reality church is closer to the physical church. The sermons are the same. The cult of music is the same. Our avatars were almost in attendance, sitting on chairs. The big challenge of the virtual reality church is that there is no physical interaction. We have already seen relationships formed, where people between the ages of 18 and 80 connect with churches in metaverse spaces. The biggest surprise of what is happening now is that we come across different people in metaverse churches. The challenge is not in the metaverse as a tool itself, but in people’s ability to recognize that the metaverse is an area where churches can thrive.

Creating these virtual reality spaces is part of another approach, in addition to evangelism. A Christian metaverse provides a safe online space to practice the Christian faith in countries that do not allow it or where you risk exposing yourself. It is on this basis, but also to raise funds for the benefit of Ukraine, that the “Holy Bibles NFT” initiative was launched, a space intended to unite all believers: Unique collection to bring together all believers in Christ and build a digital community (to worship God together without prejudice to race, language or nationality, editor’s note). An approach that shows that the structure of “physical” churches cannot be self -employed for the benefit of a Christian space based on kerygma.

Belief in the metaverse has limitations …

If virtual reality presents itself as a new “space of possibilities”, it seems that not everyone is allowed there, for physical or even theological reasons. This is the conclusion of a study by an Anglican theological research center, the Oxford Center for Mission Studies, which, from September 2020, focused on this practice facilitated by Covid-19. The author, Guichun Jun, addresses the Christian metaverse by asking himself many questions related to the digitalization of the sacraments. While this confirms the idea that the metaverse is actually part of God’s Creation, that it is possible to “form the Church there”, it clearly places limitations especially in relation to communion. The avatar, a participant’s digital representation, cannot be baptized, nor can communicate instead of the real person.

In addition to the assemblies, prayers and praises that can be done online, there is a practice that seems to have gained ground: blessing. In fact, if we rely on the Decreto in tempo di Covid issued by Cardinal Robert Sarah in March 2020, “live, and unrecorded, telematic means of communication can be useful. In any case, it remains important to allocate and ample time for prayer, which is valued above all Liturgy Horarum“. By expansion, a blessing orbi, urbi and in the metaversa not a nonsense, like the papal blessings or the blessing of palms offered by the diocese of Reunion through television during imprisonment.

Find liturgical framework for this online practice

As technology advances rapidly, one day we will have to consider the liturgy that can be applied to VR (virtual reality). A proposal that still holds in anticipation, but we already know that digital material can interfere with many paradigms … Right now, evangelists and especially the Adventist Church are rapidly advancing on the topic, though its promotion. fromAdventist News Networkofficial information agency of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and whose title is undoubtedly: How Metavers Can Be an Opportunity for the Church (“How the metaverse is an opportunity for the church”).

Will the Catechism of the Catholic Church one day include a chapter dedicated to digital worlds… that already discusses the use of social communication methods? However, he warns us that “mass media” can lead to user adaptability. If bodily mediation is no longer necessary, what happens to the soul? A risk, to be considered, that requires recognition of these evolving uses.


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