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The First Church of Cyberspace The virtual relligious has interesting elements but lacks the human touch. Worshippers clutching mice in their hands came and went as they pleased, and nobody would have noticed me if I hadn't gone out of my way to chat.
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But despite this unusual situation, people from all over the world have visited the church located at www. The church has had more than 10, hits since April 1, Henderson, pastor roomms the Central Presbyterian U. Church of Montclair New Jersey, and is now sponsored by a consortium of ecumenical churches and individuals. Worshippers are invited to select music to accompany their experience as well deebate sermons listed by topic and preacher.
The "Choose Your Own Adventure" style offers a unique flexibility.
Articles about such social issues as creation versus evolution, school violence, and Y2K are just a click away, and surfers can even access reviews, from a theological perspective, of top movies. Clicking the word "sanctuary" will launch you into a dark room with interpretive religious art surrounding a flaming tabernacle. You don't have to keep up with your Bible because a "hypertext" Bible is available for your reading pleasure.
Bach by accessing the appropriate link. When you are ready to discuss what you have read, heard, or seen with fellow computer nerds, enter the chat room. Open 24 hours, these chat rooms are places where cyberchurchgoers are encouraged to relay their comments and issues of faith that concern them. Every evening beginning at 8 p. One popular such issue is homosexuality and the Bible.
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According to Henderson, "One can actually discover a deeper faith by searching the uncharted reaches of cyberspace. Like most places of worship, the church has a newsletter cnat anyone can receive by snail mail after they fill out a short Internet form. The church also hosts conferences, such as the one on violence coming up in New York City on November 6th.
And Henderson's religioys is easily accessible in case members of the cyberchurch want to contact him directly and actually hear his voice. The Internet has finally made it possible for humans to separate the body from the soul. Those involved in cyber romances know that souls connect beautifully without the complications of the body.
Most members of First Church of Cyberspace know each other only by their comments, their faith journeys, their interests, and their spirits. But who wants to make a long distance call every time you want to hear the voice of a minister, and who wants to travel to New York to see fellow worshippers face to face? Who is going to visit these people in the hospital when they are sick, embrace them when they are crying?
Who is going to baptize them? The body's senses lend light to the soul, and these people are missing out. It's the sight of the tired faces of the homeless who us in worship that reminds us to reach out and engage in relationships.
It's the sound of other voices added to ours in song that evokes power and emotion. It's the taste of the bread and wine that reminds us of who we are, and Whose we are.
The soul cannot fully prosper without its own body, and those of others. Amid cchat pornography, bomb-making instructions, and money scams that reside in cyberspace, perhaps Henderson's church is a good idea. It encourages faith that exceeds the bounds of Sunday mornings and permeates other aspects of life. But in the end, true faith moves people off their couches and away from their computers, into churches and out to the streets.
Mary Allison Cates is coordinator of church-related ministries at Rhodes College. Her erligious address is mcates Rhodes.