Tuesday, 18 March 2014

The Second Church of the Internet

It's sorted.  We've been trying to keep it quiet, but it is all in place now.

I call our reboot of the Moot House "The Second Church of the Internet". "Second" because I bet somebody has already done the "First".

And "of the Internet" not because it's virtual, online and interactive. It's not.  If you want virtual communion, virtual schism, virtual rows between the bell ringers and virtual mutual anathemata - you can find those In Real Internet. No, I wanted to form a proper, local, hands-on church experience - but with all the lessons we've learned from 25 years of Cyberspace.

Like the Cat Chapel. Everybody loves cats.  And so the Cat Chapel is full of logs, scratching posts, things to fall off and get stuck in - and cats. But not just any cats. We've got the most wistful cats you can imagine. Who spend all day amusingly chasing the butterfly and bird images we project onto the wall. Or occasionally just stand around, enigmatically, while we project amusing but spiritual subtitles onto them.

Naturally, the cats in the Cat Chapel are protected behind a plexiglass screen. We can't go taking chances with allergies - not a problem on the Internet. And, of course, readings are from the Lolcat Bible.

Likewise we have now replaced the Daily Service with Dogely prayer. "The Lord is very my German Shepherd, I shall not much want.  Wow!" being the favourite psalm.

Naturally I have learnt from Twitter. From now on all sermons can only be 140 characters long. Although, with the attention span of the average Twitter user, we've had to introduce hashtags to reduce the amount of actual content still further.

And we've taken the Twitter concept still further by allowing the congregation to shout abuse at the preacher in real time. So much better than them waiting till they're having their dinner, and doing it behind their backs.

To make the sermons even more like Twitter, we're inviting atheists to come along and explain why they're all wrong - through a combination of misunderstood science they heard from someone else who had a clue, and category errors. The congregation engages them politely, if in a baffled manner, for a short period of time - and tnen we throw them out and they're never allowed back.

And we've learnt from Facebook, too. Oh yeah. During the prayers, the congregation gets to pray for people who never existed, or who went missing but were found again ten years ago.  In the "emotional blackmail spot", people each get twenty seconds to stand up and share something that matters deeply to them - then to give hard stares when the next person doesn't just repeat what they said - just like 97.8% of people.

So why not drop by? After all, you can walk out of The Second Church of the Internet any time you lose interest. I'm not saying people won't mind if you do. They'll either be really angry, deeply hurt or really sympathetic. But only for five minutes. Then they'll forget who you were

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