Virtually Faithful

5:39 PM Shonell Bacon 2 Comments

It's been awhile since I've last posted. The summer was full of academic work (can we say read, digest, write annotated bibliographies, repeat?) and with trying to get self back into the creative writing swing of things.

There is something else I've been doing this summer, and it's why I was call to post today. I've been getting uber doses of faith--online. Actually within the virtual world Second Life.

Hold on - don't think I have lost my mind because I haven't.

IRL (in real life), I pray, worship, sing, and dance for the Lord. Makes sense that in other spaces where my identity is present I might choose to do the same thing, right?

Last spring, my RL best friend (who is also my partner-in-crime on Second Life) told me about Overcomers, a church in Second Life; it is also a church IRL, and actually many real-life churches are moving their faith and their churches into virtual spaces, too. The first time I went to Overcomers, I was moved in the spirit in a way I hadn't been in a while. There was dance and worship, there was a powerful message by the pastor, there were the shouts and praises to God, and there was altar call, and I quickly moved to the front of the church to pray and thank God. It did not matter to me that this space was virtual, that in the idea of having to touch something in order for it to be real, this place had no physicality. I knew within my soul and spirit that something special was taking place here and within me, and God was in the center of it. Enough for me to believe.

And so I continued attending Overcomers, going to their revival, coming to services, attending a few bible study sessions, and what all of this did was add to and strengthen what I did IRL. I've always been a fan of wanting to learn about the Lord in many facets and not be restricted by just one way of interpreting things, and faith in Second Life gave me a new lens in which to see faith develop and grow.

This summer, my virtual faith grew even more when I met Pet Karu in Second Life. A real-life pastor and counselor, Pet does many amazing things in Second Life, and one thing she did was create a group called *~*Unity*~*. Unity's mission is to take God's message to the next level through artistic endeavors in-world (in Second Life) and into the real world. Her personality, dedication to God, and focus captured me right from the start, and I auditioned to be a part of Unity.

So, what has Unity done?

Well, we put together our first production, a musical adaptation of the Song of Solomon called Come Away My Beloved. It was a true labor of love in which all cast members and crew met Monday through Friday, 2 hours each night for prayer, rehearsal, and worship. What ended up happening many of those nights is that we would get so caught up in the spirit, that we'd stay for many hours after, dancing, singing, crying, sharing experiences, and thanking God for the opportunity to do so.

Come Away My Beloved was an hour-and-a-half production that saw many of the popular media outlets of Second Life either write articles on us or allow us to come on their show and talk about Unity, the production, and to do a performance. We've been invited to churches to lead their worship. Several of us have since become workers within churches of Second Life because these people see our commitment to spreading God's word. We have, since successful run of Come Away My Beloved, been thinking about the future of Unity and what we want to do now in-world and in real life. We are in the process of developing our second performance, this one dealing with the Creation story. It will be above and beyond what we did for the first production as this will be less about music and dancing and more about acting and singing. I'll be playing Eve for the production, so I will have a lot of lines to get down, a song or two to sing (perhaps--afraid of this part!), and more responsibility.

Some might laugh, thinks it's crazy to be doing these things. Some have even said, how much faith is involved in making sure your avatar hits a dance ball on cue? On having an animation in your inventory to activate the real-life movement of praying or kneeling or worshiping God.

I can't speak for them. Or for anyone else. I know that for me it is important to surround myself with good people with good hearts and good intentions and good, strong faith in their back pocket and embedded in their heart, and no matter what space I find myself dwelling in, I need those people. IRL, I have those people--my family, my friends, teachers, church members that I can speak of God openly and be received. This blog, in which I talk about faith openly, is another space where I feel free to talk and to share with others my thoughts on faith and be the better for it. It only makes sense that in a place like Second Life, where I can create my body, buy a home for that body, buy clothes for that body, put that body to work (she writes in Second Life, too -- see how the lives blur?), I should be able to also allow faith to infiltrate that body, too.

When I do so, that faith resonates from the virtual spaces of Second Life and reverberate into the spaces of my real soul.

Below is a video that gives you a glimpse behind Come Away My Beloved; it's definitely not a full-version of the production, but these five-and-a-half minutes will give you the essence of it.

Oh, and BTW, at about the 1:02 mark, I'm the solo dancer in front, :-)