Bible-based Virtual World On The Way


Interesting little announcement / press release – mostly for some of the claims being made or assumptions on approaches of a range of other virtual worlds for children. I also find it fascinating that nowhere in the press release does it provide a URL or other info, so it\’s hard to know whether this is an actual launch or something coming up further down the track:


A recent survey of Christian families revealed that parents concerned about keeping their kids safe online want more God-first, Bible-based destinations for their digital kids.


Kids Bible Adventures is the first virtual world for Christian kids and their families that lets kids explore and experience the world of the Bible and its heroes using tablets and cell phones in a way that simply wasn’t possible before digital and mobile technology. The virtual world includes Bible-based adventure games, rich 3D animation, plus photo and video sharing with friends and family through a Christian-centered social network.

“There are over 700 online virtual worlds which attract more than 500 million kids under the age of 13 and yet not a single one is dedicated to the Bible and its Christian teachings”, says Ian Jones, the founder of Kids Bible Adventures. “As a Christian parent I want my kids to be safe online, to form Christian friendships, to explore the Bible, and to come away with positive values and I’m not alone.” Jones, who is the former executive producer of the award-winning TV series, FARMkids, has put together a powerhouse team to build Kids Bible Adventures. “When I conducted a survey of Christian parents I found over 98 percent were just as concerned as I was that instead of Christ’s message of love our children were all too often exposed to violence and values that just weren’t Christian online so I decided to do something about it.”

This is a very special virtual world. Kids Bible Adventures lets kids, between the ages of 5 and 10, actually experience the Bible in a way never before possible. “They will be able to help Noah load the animals into the Ark; stand beside David as he loads that single smooth stone into his slingshot and slays Goliath; sit at the feet of Jesus, munching on loaves and fishes; blow their trumpets as they march around the walls of Jericho; follow the star with the three kings to Jesus’ manger; or help the Good Samaritan,” explains Jones. “And each Bible adventure can be shared with parents, teachers, pastors, and friends through mobile apps.  By ‘living’ the Bible, kids will learn and love God’s teachings, emulate the values, and become better, stronger, more informed Christians,” he adds.

Developed by International Entertainment Development Corporation (IEDC) a faith and values-based children’s entertainment and education company with offices in the U.S. and Australia, Kids Bible Adventures brings the Bible to life for today’s digital kids. Not only does this Christian project include a 3D immersive virtual world complete with avatars, quests, tasks and virtual goods, but it also integrates three of the fastest growing virtual trends on the Internet today – social media, online games, and mobile apps.


What\’s your take?

Avatar: The film, the idea and the word

James Cameron’s new film, Avatar, teaches us nothing about avatars.

Why? Well, let’s take a step back and look at the basic idea that already exists.

Most people are members of one of the 20 or so major religions, pretty much all of which have the concept of the avatar in common. Throughout religious philosophy and doctrine, your body and brain are considered to be your avatar, a vehicle for the actual you that continues on. The body is the avatar of the spirit (and in a couple of religions, the spirit itself is in turn an avatar of something outside).

Throughout our religious education and observations, the point is hammered home again and again – your body is your avatar in this world. This idea has now persisted for millennia, even though it is not widely associated with the word used to describe it.

And after thousands of years, it still hasn’t actually sunk in, even among many of the most devout.

From that perspective, virtual environments and avatars are a natural extension of our beliefs about the universe and our place in it. We’re just not really ‘getting’ that whole avatar thing, even though it is one of the central tenets of our varied religious beliefs.

Do I really think that James Cameron is going to be more successful with a US$237 million film budget where our most deeply held and treasured faiths about life and the nature of the universe have failed?

Not so much, no.

If you are already comfortable with the notion of an avatar, Cameron’s film doesn’t really add anything to your understanding. For those who are not, I put it to you that the concepts those people end up attaching to the word, based on the film, will not be the same ideas that you already hold from experience.

Either way, we’ve gained nothing in our understanding of the concept of the ‘avatar’, and sometimes I wonder if we ever really will, as a culture.

Episode 6 of TMJ Podcast – Religion and Second Life

Episode 6 features a news roundup, a short review of Tom Boellstorff\’s \’Coming of Age in Second Life\’ and an interview with Dr Helen Farley from the University of Queensland on religion and Second Life.


For details on how to automatically receive these podcasts, check our podcast page.

Christian Orthodoxy and Sexual Purity – A Second Life seminar

An interesting announcement came to my attention today from the organisers of a ninety minute seminar. It\’s being held by the UK-based University of Plymouth at 6am Friday morning Australian Eastern time. The full details as announced:

Fathers Johann Barak and Joshua Tuchs (these are SL™ avatar names), who in RL are two Eastern Orthodox priests in USA, together with Presbytera Anna Hirschel (again, SL name–she is also in RL Eastern Orthodox and based in USA) will be holding a 60-90 minute seminar at our SIM in Second Life® this Thursday, 1 May 2008, at 1:00 PM PDT/SLT = 9 PM BST (GMT+1) about \’Sexual Purity and Healthy Relationships: A Christian Orthodox Perspective for the 21st Century\’.

The event will take place at the University of Plymouth Sexual Health SIM.

Our three speakers will be holding an open discussion along the lines of this video – we will be showing a short segment of it in-world at the start of the seminar. They will be responding live to your questions in-world. Fr Johann Barak, Fr Joshua Tuchs, and Presbytera Anna Hirschel believe that Orthodox Christianity has a strong and very important and practical message for the whole world, especially these days with the very recent announcement of the US CDC that 1 in every 4 American teenage girls has a sexually-transmitted infection (HPV) that can lead later in life to cervical cancer (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7290088.stm).

About us:

The University of Plymouth Sexual Health SIM in Second Life® is a novel Sexual Health Public Education and Outreach project funded by Education UK Island .

The combination of sex and religion always makes for interesting debates so if 6am isn\’t too early for you, this one may be well worth a visit.

Anglicans in Second Life

The Revd Mark Brown is a New Zealander leading an Anglican Ministry in Second Life and says its has grown to five church services per week with a congregation of over 300.

The group have their own blog and a range of service times including an Australian friendly one – 6pm Sunday evenings AEDT (11pm Saturday SL time).

Check it out in-world.

Religion in Second Life – overview

The Second Life Herald have started an overview of religion in Second Life, starting out with Christianity.

We covered Chebi Mosque earlier in the year and the thing that struck me was the attention to detail with the architecture and the desire to create a place of reflection. It\’s something all religions have in common that is accentuated in the virtual world context.

Chebi Mosque

Chebi Mosque, built by Marino Nuvolari is an impressive build modeled on the Mezquita mosque in Spain and it\’s a striking resemblance.


The information supplied on notecard about the Chebi Mosque covers a range of information (exerpts only):

\”As-salaamu alaykum (Peace be upon you)

A warm welcome to Chebi Mosque. For the benefit of those who use the masjid (mosque) as a place of worship, we kindly request that visitors behave with same level of respect as they would visiting a mosque in real life. It is customary for people entering a masjid to remove their shoes. Your courtesy is much appreciated and we hope you enjoy your visit. Please feel free to return at any time and bring your friends!

Things to look out for during your visit to the Second Life masjid:

Mawdh\’a (Fountain)
This is the wall holding the fountains which Muslims use to perform wudu (ablutions) prior to salah. There are two Mawdh\’a in Chebi Mosque, inside the main courtyard.

Manarah (Minaret)
The tower situated at the corner of the masjid structure, from which the Muezzin makes the adhan (call to prayer). You can listen to an adhan by clicking play on the music icon at the bottom of your screen.

The ornamental arched niche set into the qibla or wall that indicates the direction of Makkah (Mecca). The five daily salah (Muslim prayers) are made facing Makkah.

The steps from which the Friday khutbah (sermon) is delivered.

The Qur\’an displays the 27th surah (chapter), called An-Naml (the Ants) in Moroccan calligraphy. If you click on the Qur\’an (but not the stand), you can hear an online recital of this verse in Arabic with an English translations.

Is this a \”real\” mosque?
- Islam is a way of life and people do not stop being Muslim simply because they enter virtual reality. When avatars meet and talk in-world, it is no different to Muslims talking on the telephone – and indeed, one of the officers of the mosque uses the skype telephone service to communicate with other avatars! Chebi Mosque is currently the most important meeting place for Muslims on Second Life – so this is a \”real\” mosque in many ways. However, it is not exclusively for use by Second Life Muslims. Anyone can visit – at any time.

Do Muslims perform salah (pray) in Chebi Mosque?
- Yes, they do. If you right click on a ball marked \”pray\” above one of the prayer mats, you avatar will automatically kneel and bow. However, the opinion seems to be that such prayers do not count as fard (obligatory) salah, but are either nawafil (supererogetary) or the equivalent to du\’a (a prayer which can be said almost anywhere and in any language).

Is there Jumu\’a salah at Chebi mosque?
-There has been in the past. The mosque is open to anyone who wishes to organise Jumu\’a, providing all are welcome.


Are there other mosques on Second Life?
-There are three other mosques:
(a) Hassan II. The design is inspired by the Hassan II mosque in Morocco, and is part of an island created by a real life American University:

(b) Fort Malaya. Part of a museum inpsired by an 18th century fort that I gather was the scene of battles between Sultanate, Portuguese and Acehnese forces.

(c) el Second Life Mosque. One of a complex of religious buildings constructed by a real life member of a New York based group which promotes interreligious understanding:

Does Chebi Mosque have an Imam?

Check it out in-world