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Two days after he stepped into Alt Space VR, Soto delivered his first sermon there. Sometimes he attracted a dozen people; sometimes the virtual room where he preached was empty. In all his years as a pastor, Soto had never had an atheist at his service.
Now atheists regularly came to listen to him preach about divine love, and they talked openly about their own faith. The people who never felt comfortable walking into a house of worship were happy to join him on Alt Space VR.
As VR has shifted from 2-D to 3-D, the experience has grown closer to the kind of “embodiment” that’s ideal for fully experiencing the sacraments.
As the price of headsets drops and VR technology becomes more accessible, Soto sees virtual churches as a way to bolster flagging church attendance, particularly among the young and others who feel alienated by real world churches.
But that same freedom, Soto believes, can also fuel something deeply spiritual—it can provide a place where sinners and the saved can come together for an open and profound conversation about faith. For his VR Church to survive, he has to plant branches beyond Alt Space VR, on newer platforms, such as Sansar and High Fidelity. Which means that Soto needs the one thing that may be impossible to get: for mainstream Christianity to accept that the future of religion is virtual.
But Soto, along with a small but vocal group of reformers, believe that the time is right for a spiritual movement to gain momentum in VR.
For one thing, social VR is thriving, with a throng of new worlds coming online.
Futuristic technology, dystopian grit, and a whole lot of black clothing. I had a conversation with a coworker the other day about how I wish men had more fashion options. In this issue, let's take a look at some really cyberpunky stuff. I can't fit them into just one newsletter a week, so I started a Tumblr.
We're not there yet, but you can see the beginnings of it.