Church of Fools: The Coming Of The Avatar?

The Church of Fools, an experiment in online, interactive worship, will open its virtual doors this coming May 11th. The service will be lead by real priests or pastors who appear as "avatars"; that is, an online representation of a real person.


(From Church of Fools.)

With "Pews Made Of Pixels"

Congregants will be able to log on anywhere in the world, and select the pew in which they wish to sit. They will be able to introduce themselves to other worshippers via speech bubbles, listen to the sermon and chat afterward.

They will be encouraged to continue their worship through gifts collected - even via SMS on mobile phones.

"When Future Church was chosen as the main focus for this year's National CRE (11-14 May, Sandown Park Exhibition Centre, Esher), we considered it an ideal setting to unveil our online church project," says Steve Goddard, co-editor of Ship of Fools. "It picks up the challenge of Archbishop Rowan Williams' Mission-shaped Church initiative to create new expressions for Generation X-Box."

It is interesting to note that the notion of an online picture to represent a person in a virtual environment is called an avatar. The word "avatar" is from Sanskrit; it refers to an incarnation of a deity in human form. The word literally means "he passes or crosses down." The earliest use of the term "avatar" for this purpose that I'm aware of is in Neal Stephenson's 1992 novel Snow Crash.

Find out more at the Ship of Fools church website; read the BBC article. (Thanks to Smart Mobs for pointing out this story.)

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/19/2004)

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