by Rev. BK Hipsher
Karen Armstrong's new book Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life surely has the power to change the world. Thanks to a new book study just begun it has the power to change another world, the virtual world of Second Life (SL). Armstrong's new book is based on her life and her work on the Charter for Compassion, a collaborative document started by Karen Armstrong after she won the TED award a few years ago.
Sunshine Cathedral, a Metropolitan Community Church congregation in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, has generously sponsored my ministry in Second Life for two years this month. Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins and Rev. Dr. Robert Griffin continue to lend their support to the congregation in SL for this cutting edge ministry. Each week we have services on Saturday at 5pm EST/ 2pm SLT (Second Life Time). It has long been my dream to expand the programming in Second Life to include book studies, a Classical Reform Jewish service once per month, Buddhist meditation sessions, comparative religion discussions and more. This week marks the beginning of the fulfillment of that dream.
My good friend Rev. Dr. Kharma Amos of MCC of Northern Virginia recently partnered with us to co-host our very first book study in SL. She and are are both Karen Armstrong fans and she introduced me (I am deeply in her debt) to Armstrong's new book Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life. It was her idea to host a book study, inviting members of her real life (RL) congregation in Fairfax, VA, in Second Life. It's a dream come true for me and again with the support of Sunshine Cathedral, MCC of Northern Virginia is hosting this grand experiment in virtual relationality.
Our first session on Thursday, February 17, 2011 was an "informational, solve the tech issues, review the discussion guidelines, and have a sense of the overall structure" affair. We will begin with a weekly review of each chapter in the book including the preface and the prologue for a total of 14 weekly meetings. We will meet on Thursdays at 6:30pm EST. You are all invited!
Simply go to www.secondlife.com, download the software, make your avatar (the virtual body you will use to move about Second Life) and then log onto the software using your username and password. Once there "search" MCC NOVA or Sunshine Cathedral on the "Classifieds" tab. There you will find a "teleport" button that will land you in the courtyard of the facility where the study will be held. Search CristoferAslan Muircastle (that's me!) and offer friendship so we can connect in SL.
I'll be happy to meet you before the next meeting to get you squared away and ready to hear voice presentations from both Kharma and myself along with music, prayers, and dialogue with others in the study. It's a GRAND experiment and I'm so happy to be part of it. Come join the diversity of Second Life and enrich your REAL life in the process.
It's no accident that Durrell, Robert, Kharma, and I all graduated from Episcopal Divinity School. There we were taught to honor diversity, seek reconciliation and work for justice... all from the point of view of living with compassion. We are all grateful for that foundation to our theological and personal lives and give thanks for the faculty and administration who facilitated our education there. Karen Armstrong was the Kellogg Lecturer at Episcopal Divinity School in May 2006.
Rev. Dr. Robert Griffin currently serves as a Trustee for Episcopal Divinity School
Rev. BK Hipsher is currently serving on the Alumni/ae Executive Committee and plans to graduate from the Doctor of Ministry program there in 2012.