The combination of pandemic lockdowns and Zoom have spawned a new way of being Catholic. Or, they have spawned a new way of seeming to be Catholic. We are moving toward a Catholic Metaverse.
A metaverse is a virtual world, like those existing in virtual reality games such as Roblox, Minecraft and Fortnite, where individuals exist as avatars, or three-dimensional icons of themselves. These games are precursors to an even larger virtual world, where individuals would be able to hide their identities, interact and present their views anonymously.
The future, however, is upon us. Now, it is possible to be wherever you want, say whatever you want and find like-minded folks to be with, even to worship with, all within a cocoon of anonymity.
The word “parish” has taken on a new meaning.
Community is increasingly disconnected from both online and in-person parochial life. While once the parish church was the one down the block, where the Friday potluck suppers helped cement social interaction, now the “parish” is virtual. Community is in a Catholic Metaverse created through social media in which you can participate anonymously. Or not.
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Phyllis Zagano is senior research associate-in-residence at Hofstra University, in Hempstead, New York. Her most recent book is Women: Icons of Christ, and her other books include Women Deacons: Past, Present, Future. Study guides for the book, which is also published in Spanish, French and Portuguese, are available for free download at sites.hofstra.edu/phyllis-zagano/.
With thanks to the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) and Phyllis Zagano, where this article originally appeared.