Illuminating SL’s Spiritual Side

by Alphaville Herald on 22/08/05 at 9:18 pm

story and photograph by Buttery Shortbread

Avatars of all denominations and spiritual beliefs have a new place to worship in Second Life, at the Interfaith Temple, built only about a month ago by Athel Richelieu, who is not yet out of his teens in his first life (though old enough for SL proper, to be sure).

The beautiful, pure white marble monument he built rises from the sim of Ambulyx. Inside this simple yet very functional worship center is the Ray of Golden Light, which, to myself at least, symbolizes universal spiritual illumination.

I observed out loud that it seemed a bit unusual for someone so young to be so involved with religious pursuits. “I feel more and more in my age bracket are becoming open to spirituality and bringing it into their lives,” Athel said, “though yes, perhaps it is unusual in the United States.”

When asked whether his temple was geared toward the New Age movement, Athel said, “Ahh no, not New Age. I would consider it to be for all faiths, though I would say there is an emphasis on mysticism and inner peace. Mysticism, finding God or Spirit within, is a part of most all major religions and cultures. Hence the meditation pillows, and such.”

“My personal spirituality is very open,” Athel continued, “though right now I feel my personal spiritual teacher and Guru I am following is Mata Amritanandamayi or Amma, a worldwide recognized Saint in the Hindu religion though embracing all. She has spoken at the United Nations, and has followers such as a former US Senator and Yolanda King, Dr. Martin Luther King’s daughter. I would say my life centers quite a bit around spirituality. In my first life I have an altar in my room.”

Athel estimates that the temple receives perhaps several visitors a day, but he is currently not often at the sim. “I am surprised by the interest it has received in such a short time. I will come here randomly and it seems like people visit often. There are some who like to stay and just feel the presence.” One avatar who was visiting during our interview, FarindaFlyingdove Talamasca, mentioned that she likes to visit the sim several times a day.

Athel says would like to be able to hold daily services, though realistically his goal is set for three or four per week. He does not preside over the gatherings except to lead prayer and moderate to keep discussion topics on track. He considers himself as much a visitor to the temple as any other member of SL.

Given those ambitions, I asked whether he hoped to expand to building other churches in other sims. “I do hope to possibly build shrines in the future in other sims,” he said, “but these will most likely be focused on more my personal spirituality and things I feel need focus, rather than Interfaith.”

The temple is also available for weddings, committment ceremonies, memorials or candlelight vigils for peace, you name it. Those who wish to book the site can bring their own items for and someone to conduct the event, or request Athel’s services. There is no cost for that or for use of the sim.

And with the holidays just ahead, Athel hopes that Interfaith Temple will serve to host a number of celebrations of all manner of spirituality. Be sure to get your reservation in soon!

94 Responses to “Illuminating SL’s Spiritual Side”

  1. Joe Public

    Aug 29th, 2005

    No probelm…took no time at all in fact.

    As for the Japanese comment, it actually came from one of the rising stars of Japan’s LDP at and Asia-Pacific cooperation forum I attended (~2003) . A comment also confirmed by close Japanese friends…”everybody has to be equal” being the gist of it.

    And who said anything about america being evil? Your words, not mine.

    You always keep twisting mine (and others) comments to this point, when it has nothing to do with what we are talking about.

    Maybe you need to get together with Pat Robertson and give each a quick hand shandy to chill out…sounds like you both have similar religous hypocrisy issues to “work out”.

  2. Prokofy Neva

    Aug 29th, 2005

    I guess we go to different seminars with different Japanese people? I dunno. Like I said, I don’t wave around RL currency to try to win arguments on teh Intarnut.

    No twisting involved atall. Your portayal of America is one of evil and malice, always worse than any other country. Go read what you write. It’s always mainstream religions of American and corporate America that are the locus of evil in your narrow world construct.

    I don’t have any religious hypocrisy issues to work out because I’m not here peddling any religion or belief, I am countering others who are doing that. And one of the most virulent, intolerant, hysterical belief systems is that of the hedonistic pagan-type witch-hunter on forums like this.

    Uri, I think this article and its response shows you how SL is not a platform where people are going to have rewarding and fuzzy inter-religious experieces. At least, they can’t because some of the very creations of Western civilization right here seem to want to least benefit from its fruits, or at least to pick and chose them. Not even basic stuff like the Socratic method of questioning “facts” and so on ever seems to come into play. One person comes on and questions whether a person holding $150 seminars centered around hugging and breakfasting with American icons and world renowned institutions like the UN is really legitimate as a path to spirituality. Substitute the words “the Pope” instead of “Amma” or “kissing a ring” to take the debate along the predictable PC channels instead of “getting a hug” and the query suddenly, magically becomes legitimate — but taken generically, as a query about religious practices and personalities, it becomes suddenly targeted with shrill, hysterical, unbased urban legends like fetuses under the floorboards.

    No matter that most Catholic parishes are made up of hard-working men and women who help people through births, marriages, illness and death and provide hours of unpaid counseling, community service, and even health care in hospitals. That all goes by the board while we’re asked to focus on sex abuse cases, which are a minority of the cases of people serving as clergy in this religion, or we’re asked to take on faith ridiculously absurd stories about fetuses under floorboards. Even if there are fetuses representing the aborted (or miscarried?) offspring of priests and nuns or priests and parishioners, trust me, this isn’t the norm or you wouldn’t have the following you do for this religion.

    Religion is a lot like builds in SL. One man’s palace is another man’s pigsty. It’s in the eye of the beholder and the practitioner. There are many ways to the truth. One of the foundations of this country is religious tolerance. I don’t see a shred of that coming from those in this discussion — they’re willing to wield any weapon to hack and slash at something they once found “oppressive” of their own personal hedonistic, entitlement craze.

  3. Athel Richelieu

    Aug 29th, 2005


    “Uri, I think this article and its response showsyou how SL is not a platform where people are going to have rewarding and fuzzy inter-religious experiences.”

    No, Prokofy, I think you and people like you show how SL is not that platform

    You started the negativity, choosing to criticize my personal, (note: PERSONAL) spirituality, and you in fact drew more attention to my personal spirituality than it would have EVER received if you had not posted your comment. (I have had several people inquire now, and are actually interested in Amma)

    I mentioned, in one single paragraph, my personal spirituality which sent you off on a wild tangent.

    Despite me correcting you on several false statements your making on my personal spirituality, that is on record and in my personal experience, you continue to make these false statements and stay on your ignorant line.

    Your the one who started, and stirred the trouble here. While others have joined in with their own personal views, turning this into a flame-fest, you started it.

    Shame on you.

  4. Prokofy Neva

    Aug 29th, 2005

    Athel, if you can’t stay out of the heat, don’t get in the kitchen. You gave an interview to a journalist. That journalist was wise to ask you what your OWN belief was, perhaps even unconsciously realizing that he needed to serve the public’s need to know whether something calling itself an inter-faith temple really was that, or was the gateway to a cult. YOU are the one who exposed yourself to a discussion of a private matter, your religion, in the usual Internet bare-all way. Notice I’m not bringing into this discussion what MY beliefs or non-beliefs are. So don’t pin that on me.

    You’ve more or less assured me that while you have your own “saint” you aren’t imposing it on others and providing events that appear to be interesting and thought-provoking. Still, I’m glad the free press has done its job in writing about this issue, because anyone visiting there can at least come with the knowledge that you yourself have a personal belief system that will seem dubious at least to those in mainstream religions, and as we’ve seen from posts here, even just people not terribly interested in religion.

    I’m not making false statements, Athel, you’re just getting very defensive at having to see yourself as others see you. News accounts from reliable newspapers and accounts from former cult members — always a good place to go looking to get an idea of what damages might be involved in a cult — tell me that there were issues of monetarizing the religions, and offering expensive seminars for $150. Your point that you can get a teaching or a hug on a non-paying seminar doesn’t obviate my point that there is still the notion that for higher enlightenment and continuation on the path, you’ll be expected to go to the more expensive seminars eventually (all these cults have similar features). Life in the Ashram was also the usual menu of getting up at 5 a.m. and then working hard, and unpaid, at some cult income generation project. These are all familiar features.

    Your claim that my persistence in pointing out to you the news account that says there are $150 seminars, calling it “false” or “ignorant” is just bewildering. There are indeed such seminars. If you went to the first mass meeting and got a freebie, surely you’re aware that the higher path does eventually require paying out more. That’s my point. I’m not hearing you disprove that.

    I’m sorry, I don’t feel any “shame” here in an open and honest debate, using reliable sources, about a cult. I think any spirituality has to be able to withstand that kind of criticism. I’m sorry you’re not getting it in RL where you may need to get it most – but a critique of something like this Amma’s gig, which seeks faith an inch deep and a mile wide and fortune and fame to go along with it, really needs a challenge. In the long run, I don’t believe it will serve you or others. That’s why I challenge it, because of my sincere belief that you can find something better, richer, and more rewarding. I suggest you might even consider looking at whatever faith your forefathers may have passed down, rather than looking abroad to strangers in India who are recognized least by their own countrymen.

  5. Athel Richelieu

    Aug 29th, 2005

    Your “facts” and “statements” in this debatement are ignorance, Prokofy.

    If $150 is “expensive” for you, I am surprised you are playing Second Life. $150 is not expensive for such a seminar. Last time I checked, the Dalai Lama is charging 130 Euros for his talks in London and that does not include meals.

    From reliable news soruces I have checked, from my personal sources, and from me seeing what I see myself Amma as a humanitarian and a person has an excellent reputation, and it all checks out. It is not paying $150 for “higher knowledge”, and it is not more “expensive” to continue to higher “levels” as you say. I could bring up a hundred examples of self-help seminars that are twice or three times as high.

    You keep speaking of “fame and fortune”. Amma does not live luxuriously, and is right down in the work herself. She wears a simple white sari, travels coach class, and normally stays at devotee’s houses when she comes.

    Bishops of the Catholic Church ride in limousines, and live luxuriously. Their very clothing can be $500 a robe. The Bishop of Boston as was recently explained about the corruption there had a $11,000 dollar wine cooler.

    Amma is VERY well known in her country. 1 million attended her birthday celebrations from all over the world. She has been acknowledged by the President and Prime Minister of India. She is beloved in her own country, and abroad.

    I am sure that ALL the money made, and the financial drives are all for charity. It has been put into practice and action.

    Free hospitals and schools built for the poor, free housing for the poor. The fact you come at Amma and her organization in a critical manner in that way is totally ignorant.

    Amma practices, letter by letter, what she preaches. And I have no doubt about it. And its not even cultic, she has been looked at by those who are even critical and they still say the same thing.

    Uhh, and keep criticizing that life in the ashram is getting up at 5 AM and working “hard and unpaid”. Uhh, what the heck are they doing in Catholic monastaries and nunneries?

    And actually the work is only 4 hours a day, and visitors do not even have to work. Your criticisms of this are ignorant because every monastic tradition in the WORLD (Buddhist, Catholic, Hindu, etc. all) follows mostly the same or similar schedule.

    And the work that is done is not to “make money” as you so ignorantly say. The work that is done, and I have talked to people personally and am CERTAIN of is of benefit to many.

    Amma has inspired her followers to set up soup kitchens in major US cities.

    Your comments and attitude toward this is totally ignorant. I have studied cults, I know what a cult is. Amma and her organization are far from this “radical controlling cult” or “money hungry cult” you try to describe it as.

    My personal spirituality is very rewarding to me, more rewarding than the faith of my “forefathers” as you say. The faith of my forefathers has been lost. I follow Jesus’s teachings of unconditional love and charity. Amma is a living example of Jesus’s teachings, more than most Christians in the United States from how it appears. And she has many Christian followers by the way, who listen to her and go to see her, and see her as an inspiration and beautiful individual filled with the Holy Spirit and God’s love.

    And the Interfaith Temple will remain, as you have said, just that. Interfaith. It has nothing to do with Amma, it is for everyone’s spiritual growth.

  6. Prokofy Neva

    Aug 29th, 2005

    The Dalai Lama is worlds apart and head and shoulders above your Amma. The Dalai Lama gives huge public lectures in Central Park or other venues for free; he also does charity dinners for his cause; he also has teachers for the more advanced disciples. I’m leery of religious causes that associate payment of money with higher spiritual advancement.

    I might pay $150 for a seminar or religious retreat, but not one in which the seminar is billed as a venue for actual advancement in that religion — and that’s the usual cult gimmick. I didn’t see anything that persuaded me otherwise with Amma. Sorry, but I’ve just got an awful lot of experience with this as it happens.

    Um, I’m well aware of the monks tradition in all the world’s religion, and the 4 a.m. calls.

    But a Catholic monastery or for that matter an Islamic center of learning of this type is actually rather different than than this type of ashram you describe and which the media and former followers have described. I don’t know where to start on that. There’s a difference between religions — established, mainstream, organized religions — that arrange an inner core of fervent believers who practice the 5 a.m. stuff and then an outer core of the ordinary man who may just be expected to try to be good — and then the cults, where the entire religion is about placing those 5-a.m. demands on the devotees, separating themselves off from the world and making communities with these practices, and where the “outer core” has no hope of salvation unless they go to the $150 seminars and get in deper. It’s a huge difference in concept of structure.

    It’s the oldest trick in the book for various cults to say “why, we’re just Jesus’ teachings” or “many Christians follow us and get value from us, too.” These are all very well known, tried-and-true cult tactics. I expect you’ll come to see this in time.

    Um, I”m not aware of the Catholic Bishops or any other major US religious institution pronouncing Amma as “filled with the Holy Spirit” lol. This is just hype.

    If they’re “just Jesus’ teachers” and “many Christians are able to follow along” — well why not just stick with Jesus then? I don’t get it. Why another layer of a “saint”?

    Former followers, not me, an ignoramus, tell me that they felt the cult was set up to make money. *Shrugs*. I’m citing the media and these former followers and my own common sense to ask questions, that’s not ignorance, that’s a challenge to your hype.

    Whatever this “cult lite” you claim it is, boy it has enough of a grip on you to keep you coming back here to argue you with me. But you’re not going to convince me lol. My hope is that the reading public will be a little bit more questioning of the stuff in SL, that’s all.

    Basically, honestly, I just feel sorry for you. These oldest tricks in the book all have a grip on you. I hope you’ll find your way free of them in time.

  7. Prokofy Neva

    Aug 29th, 2005

    BTW, if Amma does not seek fame and fortune, she’d have no need to come to the US to seek rich followers to fill her coffers, she’d have no need to go breakfasting and lunching with Yoland King and hang out at the UN. Why does she need Dr. Jane Goodall and these other celebs to give her luster? She could stay on her mountain in India, hmmm?

  8. Joe Public

    Aug 29th, 2005

    I have a theory about prok.

    Tolerance of diversity of views is the lifeblood of humanity, the antidote to the historical and ongoing religious and political murders that have been discussed here.

    Analysing proks arguments I can only conclude that he/she is not actually interested in discussion per se, but relies on creating dissonance as a form of energy though which to survive the dullness of their everday existance. Either that or they are an experiment by a journalist who’s writing a book on the topic of trolling and flame wars. Knowing the low character of many mainstream mass-media people this one would not surprise me.

    I’m a spiritual person, not religious, so in my own I’ll pray for you prok. What you are doing is not healthy for yourself or others.
    You don’t need to stop writing, you just need to think about what you are writing a little more.

    Fundamentally I agree with some of the stuff you write (especially about some of the recent antics of the IP gangsta’s LL)…it’s a pity you can’t do it in a more intelligent manner.

  9. Athel Richelieu

    Aug 29th, 2005

    I agree Joe Public. I do not feel the point with Prokofy is to truly and honestly debate something but rather just to create dissonance, especially with certain outrageous accusations that are sometimes made by him. He uses inflammatory expressions, focuses in on the most negative aspects of things, and seems to have a one track mind on picking apart other people’s beliefs and personal views on life.

    Reading his blog is an eye opener, showing that he focuses primarily on negativity. I do not really believe, surely, unless he has mental problems, that he is truly paranoid enough to write some of the stuff he writes. I feel it is an experiment of some kind or for his own entertainment as you say.

    I can understand a bit more doing this about Second Life, but to move into real world issues and real world spirituality, very very serious things, and attack them in the same manner he does virtual topics I feel is stepping over the line more than he does on virtual topics and rather wrong.

    Though it seems he is playing games, and it seems the majority of people and everyone else sees him for what he is and what he does so I am unconcerned. I have had several people, several more than I would expect, give me words of encouragement and such and say not to pay attention to what he is saying. It is obvious he is running his mouth for nothing, I suppose it must be for his own entertainment.

  10. Athel Richelieu

    Aug 29th, 2005

    My personal spirituality is one of mysticism. I feel that people may, through spiritual practice and personal discovery, come to embody God’s love and have the illusionary veil between us and the spirit of God that dwells within us removed so that we may realize Truth, which is to me the realization of eternal life and eternal Love. We can all aspire to do good, and make a true difference in our life time. To realize the true, everlasting qualities that truly matter and truly bring quality to life and to see through the shallow materialism that pervades our culture.

    Right now, a “Catholic” style candle of Jesus Christ in the Sacred Heart of Christ candle burns in my window. I feel Jesus Christ’s teachings were wonderful.


    Amma, to me, is truly an embodiment of Divine Love and these teachings, and is a personal inspiration to me and since seeing her has inspired me in my spirituality and given me renewed hope in my spirituality, bringing my life back to spirituality. This is very personally “rewarding” to me.

    I have read about cults and the signs of cults. Amma’s followers do love and adore her, even seeing her as Divine, but she continues to do her own thing and be a living example of her own teachings and the universal teaching of Love. All she does is in service to others, her life is an inspiration. Even if she is not “Divine”, and it is only in our perception and emotions as such, she does not abuse her influence, she uses it to the very best of her ability to inspire others to follow God and embrace spirituality as a way of life. Amma has thousands, hundreds of thousands of followers who are householders and do not live at the ashram. Ashram life is not touted as the only way, she has told people before to remain in their profession, support their family. All her teachings I have seen so far are wise, and common sensical. Ashram life is for those who want to devote their life to a spiritual way of life, in the same way monastic or ashram life is anywhere else. In India she hugs thousands upon thousands a day who come to see her, for free, no charge. Obviously, when she comes to the United States, there are costs and there are costs to rent the massive spaces that are rented in major hotels.

    It would be different if there was not clear evidence where the money that is being raised has gone. Free homes, clinics, and hospitals abound all over the place. As a humanitarian, Amma LIVES her teachings.

    I have seen the woman in person, up close. I get to sit close to her for an hour almost. She radiates and has an aura of total love. My mother and I went up to receive a hug from her and my mother said that seeing her, she did not feel anything at first, but upon receiving her embrace my mother began crying and she could not explain why. Though it is not a case of televangelist deception, I have seen people hug Amma and not cry but feel deeply moved. It is subtle, it is not something exaggerated. Being close to her truly I felt that she is truly and completely sincere. She sits for 12 hours and over hugging each individual person, comforting them, without complaint. She allows people to touch her, within close proximity to her. There are no bodyguards around her, no people holding people back. She is there, she is there for the people.

    I talked to several people who had lived in India. Amma has many educated followers. The people I spoke to were not even necessarily wide eyed deceived believers, very practical common sense every day people. Amma’s organization is actually fairly transparent. Her chief disciples and her live by monastic code and live their own lives. She does not ride in luxury vehicles and can be seen doing the work just like everyone else.

    As a person, as an individual, I have analyzed her in that frame of mind, without attaching any divine qualities, she is a true and sincere individual just analyzing her actions. I have read second hand reports of her. I have talked to people. There are many many people who attend these retreats who do not feel she is divine, but feels she is a true humanitarian and have watched her and feel she is an inspiring human being. I talked to these people too. They feel that she does not directly put down people saying she is divine or has divine qualities so she can further inspire others to do good. But most certainly it is not some “ego trip” for her.

    You judge FAR FAR too quickly Prokofy, and in your own mind immediately label things before studying them deep enough. If you analyze yourself, you too show symptoms of internet shallow thinking. You either do this for personal entertainment as a game, an experiment, or you truly believe what you say. If you truly believe what you say, your cynical view of the world clouds your ability to truly see things as they are.

    You spend your days decrying an virtual world and its inhabitants. Few listen to you, and if they do they see your attitude and approach is wrong. Before you lecture any one on their spirituality or personal life, perhaps you should take up a more worthwhile mission in life, and do something more worthwhile for Second Life than spewing constant negativity and looking for hidden agendas that are not there. Even if there is negativity there, as there is in the real world, you could be doing something good that would outweigh the bad. More than just rentals, you could be doing in the time you spend writing your negative essays, doing something more positive for the world of Second Life like your own spiritual programs.

    I do not have much more to say to you, Prokofy, but I do question your motives and intentions in your debate. You have been less insulting to me than you have to others, but I still question your motives.

    You have a right to do as you wish within the law, but you could be doing something better.

    God Bless You.

  11. Antje

    Aug 30th, 2005

    Prokofy speweth: “…because anyone visiting there can at least come with the knowledge that you yourself have a personal belief system that will seem dubious at least to those in mainstream religions.”

    The above sentence speaks volumes. It is the very heart of the problem with zealots like Prokofy who have no tolerance for thought or beliefs differing from their own. Smug, self-righteous bullshit, born of scare tactics administered over centuries by the Church. I am sure Jesus is SO proud of you.

    Why is it that when others post links or snippets from the net, they are summarily labeled “hoaxes”, yet when Prokofy does it, they are “reliable sources”? Blatant hypocrisy of the highest order. Almost as hypocritical as his linking to the Wiki, after blasting it to no end on his blog. Which reminds me, he never answered me on that when I pointed it out – go figure!

    He gives us links to some Welsh family’s home page, where this Nigel Nicholson fellow (self-defined “house-spouse”) prattles on about the Crusades. A free PERSONAL HOME PAGE of a family who sends their child to a religious school, so his bias in writing about the Crusades is surely no less than to be expected. Yet we are supposed to take it as a “reliable source”. Poppycock.

    I almost forgot, speaking of “hoaxes” – my mother was told about those aborted children wayyyyy back in the 1930s – and I don’t think I have to explain to you that the net wasn’t even conceived of at that time.

    On the age issue. You made it an issue, so don’t tell me it doesn’t matter. You got all ageist once again because of Athel’s age. Age is a recurring theme in most of your preposterous blatherings, therefore, it is highly relevant. I just wanted you to know you aren’t talking to someone you can dismiss because of an age difference. I am most likely, from what I can tell, a peer of yours agewise. Thankfully that is the limit of what we have in common. So your “tekkie-wiki, 20 or 30 somethings” hogwash isn’t going to fly with me.

    On your idiotic claim that my reason for rebuking Catholicism stems from my childhood church soliciting funds from minors: Rubbish. That is but a mote in an ocean of transgressions against humanity commited by your corrupt organisation. I listed a few, most of which you predictably ignored.

    Oh, and Prokofy dear, since you’re so damned interested in my religious beliefs, here you go:

    I am a Wiccan who happens to be a UU member. I also study, and have a strong interest in all pre-Christian European religions, Buddhism and Shintoism. Are you happy now? Now you can tell me how fucked up I am. I simply can’t wait to be put in my place by the biggest blow-hard in the entire universe. I may just have to head on over to NYC for that convention, just so I can say I saw the most unfulfilled, desperate, lonely, hate-filled human being alive today.

    I wrote a poem for you my Christian friend:

    Shall I be tossed in the moat, to see if I float?

    P’raps burned at the stake, ’til my body doth bake?

    My hair cruelly knotted, ’til my scalp it is clotted?

    The Fork in my chin, to reveal the daemon within?

    Mayhap tied in a sack, ’til my body goes slack?

    None of these things, nor the axe as it swings,

    Howe’er painful the grief, will change my belief.

    Now, while you’re frantically wearing out another keyboard to tell me how wrong my beliefs are, please remember that the Christmas Tree, the Yule Log, the Easter Bunny, Easter Eggs, the word “Easter” for that matter, as well as a whole host of other “Christian” iconography was stolen from us. You remember, after your religious forefathers decided that co-opting was necessary because we would rather die than be fully indoctrinated into your cult. Necessary because they finally wised up to the fact that if they killed all of us, they would have no one to work the land, herd the cattle, build their roads, or make their swords for them. That, my hectoring friend, is no “internet hoax”.

    An Ye Harm None Do What Ye Will

    We were here long before you, and we will be here long after you.

  12. Prokofy Neva

    Aug 30th, 2005

    “Joe Public,” is it likely that you’re full of shit? I’m all for tolerance and diversity. But let’s *think* shall we? Someone puts up some claim about a religion and I challenge it. That’s perfectly normal. It’s *ok* to challenge orthodoxy. Especialy the foolish consistency which is the hobgoblin of little minds on these forums. Someone claims something about a religious figure; I challenge it with some questions. They respond with specious “facts” and personal attacks. I’m asking why I’m supposed to buy that a guru from India dispensing hugs should be a gateway to salvation. Perfectly legimitate question from a consumer. Uri and others respond with their usual, predictable bashing of Catholicism and other mainstream religions, comparing apples and oranges. Athel responds by calling me “ignorant” merely because I cite legitimate news accounts or the accounts for former cult members.

    The inability of many people to face logical rhetoric in discussions is a function of incomplete education, I guess. Hiro Pendragon has this page link on his siggy on logical fallacies

    It’s well worth reading. It’s the kind of thing we routinely had in rhetoric classes in college — at least in some colleges at one time — now it’s Chomsky or nothing, I guess.

    Of course, it’s particularly humorous that Hiro cites this page when he’s guilty of violating many of these logical precepts on something like his demand that I should “retract” a “statement that the Burning Life” is rigged — when what my statement says is we should question whether it is rigged given the way it is announced (only on the forums). That kind of thing. Still.

    I’m not writing a book (do you have me confused with Walker?) And I don’t have a “dull everyday existence”. Do you? Why attribute some RL issue to someone as a way to win an argument? I think that’s reachest for the lowest of the low.

  13. Joe Public

    Aug 30th, 2005

    hmmm…proks answer just reinforces my opinion that he/she is just an elaborate joke (sadly in a lot of cases leaving a rather nasty taste in peoples mouths) being played by someone with a hidden agenda – most likely imo the compilation of a book on internet flame wars.

    [Not to use "Attacking the Person" (see fallacy ref above) but I truly don't believe anyone could be that fucked up to be actually writing all that crap for real]

    The formula is always the same…either start a contenscious topic (quite easy with a volitile subject like SL) or light the match to an existing one to start a flame. Apply moving target tactic when the going gets hot. rinse. repeat. Even across environments from what I can surmise.

    The reference to is a dead giveaway…it’s like a recipe book for all of prok’s postings across SL, here and no doubt other places.

    On the one hand I’d like to congratulate you for the persistance necessary in pulling off such a stunt …on the other hand I think [insert your own recommendation here]

  14. montserrat

    Aug 30th, 2005

    i like the idea of the spiritual center.

    ultimately i think that religious arguments are absurd, because it is like trying to argue about green. everybody knows what green looks like to them.

  15. Antje

    Aug 30th, 2005

    Joe Public:

    Right you are. If you have some time to spare, read this thread in the archives here:

    The thread is about an incident where Prokofy poses under a fake Wiccan alt in TSO to “expose” the Wiccan and BDSM community. It appears to me that he has several alts going in the thread, supporting each other in bizarre ways.

    It’s rife with examples of Prokofy commiting a veritable plethora of logical fallacies. Which makes his linking to that site in Hiro’s sig line all the more comical and hypocritical. There are ad-hominems, straw men, red herrings, tu quoques, etc.

    I really enjoyed that thread, especially because a character named Raven takes Prokofy to school when he simply cannot admit that was wrong about improper use of the term “Tax-deductible group” when he should have used “tax-exempt group” (after Prokofy incorrectly asserts that Wicca groups cannot get tax-exempt status).

    He fights it until almost the end of the thread, then gives up at long last, utterly defeated. Raven even links the poor sod to the IRS to prove him wrong, and Prokofy keeps grabbing for straws by clinging to some incorrect info he got from non-official sites. How in the world can a group be “tax-deductable”? You can only deduct funds, not people! Yet Prokofy goes to great lengths to try and prove otherwise. Big shocker eh?

    It brought to mind his refusal to admit that he improperly referred to “IP” numbers as “ISP” numbers a few months back and then instead of simply admitting that he was wrong, came up with all manner of excuses, from claiming it was a typo to claiming it was an accepted alternate way of saying “IP” number. Interestingly enough, he calls it an “ISP” number in this thread I linked! So I guess he’s made that “typo” before! *Rolls eyes*

    It’s quite hilarious, if not saddening, to watch a person self-destruct in that manner because they are simply so vain and arrogant that they could never admit to being wrong about even the most trivial of things.

    Raven also schools Prokofy in respect to his extreme ignorance regarding Wicca.

    It’s a true classic, and reveals the fact that Prokofy has been a hoax perpetrating fraud, and a bigoted, ignorant schmuck since long before he came to SL.

  16. Miraren Firefly

    Aug 30th, 2005

    Prokofy, you asked me for my agenda, so I will lay it out, plain and simple:

    1. I wish to further myself on the road to enlightenment.
    2. As part of that process, I wish to further others on the road to enlightenment when (and only when) they reach out for help.
    3. Since I’ve spent a number of lives here already, I wish to improve the welfare of our Mother Earth, who gave birth to the human race, and without whom the human race is likely to perish.
    4. In the process of doing the above, I wish to explore the world, learn intersting new things, grow as an individual and have fun!

    As for my religious viewpoint, I am a syncretic witch. I study various religions, and borrow concepts that particularly appeal to me, blending them with my own beliefs and actively building a faith on which I may thrive. And yes, that means that I’m *not* even close to Wiccan, though I do love Wicca and very much enjoy participating in Wiccan events. I also go meditating at a Buddhist temple almost every weekend, participate in the occasional Sufi (Islamic mystic) event, and keep the Jewish Sabbath. I even stop by my favorite (gasp) CATHOLIC church, Saint Patrick’s Church in the Yerba Buena Gardens district, every few weeks to (GASP!) pray to St. Brigid and to the statue of Jesus bearing the cross.
    As for organizations I am involved in religiously, here’s the list:
    -San Francisco Zen Center
    -Congregation Kol Shofar (my Jewish temple)
    -The Church of All Worlds (Pagan networking/brotherhood group)
    -Daughters of Divination (tarot reading group)
    -A local Sufi group that meets occasionally
    Notice the conspicuous lack of a “cultic” Wiccan coven or any connection to Amma whatsoever.

    As for you, Mr. Neva, I suggest that you follow a few of Jesus’ guidelines, as outlined in my very favorite part of the New Testament, Matthew 5 through 7. In Jesus Christ’s own words:
    -”Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” Matt. 5:17 Therefore, destruction and war in the name of Christ is tantamount to heresy.
    -”Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cuase shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever sall say to his brother, Racha, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” Matt. 5:21/22 In simpler words, Jesus doesn’t condone flaming and trolling.
    -”Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” Matt. 5:43/44 It seems here that Jesus recommends inviting calm, smiling friendship to your enemies, not spewing weedwhackerisms at them.
    -”Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” Matt. 7:5 In other words, focus on improving yourself first and foremost, not on “correcting” others. I believe that Chapter 7 of Matthew begins,

    “Judge not, that ye be not judged,”

    And that is my final advice to you. May you have a blessed life, free of pain and toil, and
    may you never thirst.
    -Miraren Firefly

  17. Miraren Firefly

    Aug 30th, 2005

    I’ll be damned, Joe Public, dear old Prok’s history goes back further than I ever knew! Wundeerful. You know, Prok, though you’re not a formal cult leader YET, I’d love to start a cult around you! Our Lord Prokofy, Avatar of God on Earth. I think you would adjust to the position quite well. =^o^=

  18. juro kothari

    Aug 30th, 2005

    I wonder what the world would be like if people spent as much energy, time and money believing in THEMSELVES vs. some mythical invisible being in the sky.

  19. Urizenus

    Aug 30th, 2005

    Listen, if anyone is gonna have their own cult, it should be me!!!! I’m like the Bob Dobbs of the new millenium. Don’t go slack, go mack! And for $100 I’ll even hug you!

  20. Prokofy Neva

    Aug 30th, 2005

    My, you’ve got such an axe to grind there, Antje, that
    you’re maliciously misrepresenting the facts even of
    past debates that are all to easy to look up on the
    Herald site. I think it’s funny that we’re not really progressing
    beyond those debates of some time ago, and that’s because
    no matter how fancy the platform, game, or software,
    people still cling to their silly beliefs and fight about them
    beligerantly, hmmm?

    Let me set the record straight for readers: the Selina
    Witch hoax isn’t about “exposing” the wiccan and BDSM
    community –in fact you’re conflating two different
    debates. Selena only dealt with wiccan, and far from
    “exposing” wiccans in TSO, it mainly represents them
    as being helpful in explaining their beliefs. They are
    not portrayed negatively, go read the articles.

    Rather, the expose is of Urizenus himself, in getting
    him to believe that “Selena” was a 15-year-old girl
    who was getting lured into all kinds of alternative
    belief systems on the Internet — the kind of thing adults rightly worry about with online games — and the kind of issue that Uri, who was so concerned about teen cyber-brothels, should have been concerned about.

    The fictional Selena had an aunt who was into wiccan and a mom who opposed it;and here Uri was telling Selena to switch the silverware around on the table to mess with the adults’ minds!

    THe point of the Selena thing was to show that Uri would publish anything that came across the transom, especially if it involved 15-year-old girls who could tell lurid tales about randy old warlock types in TSO who asked what kind of panties she was wearing. He bought the whole thing hook, line, and sinker until I posted a note “You’ve been Dyerbrooked”, but the point was Selena was merely an avatar, in fact run by several different people in RL who bore no resemblance to her at all. It was a commentary on how
    “game journalism” has a really hard time claiming to have any factural basis when anybody can make up just about anything on their avatars and sell it and succeed in fooling some of the people at least some of the time.

    You’ve also completely misrepresented the facts about
    the tax-exempt business. The fact of the matter is,
    mainstream churches are easily granted tax-exempt
    status. Wiccan groups are not as such. Some get it, some
    don’t. Some groups of wiccan get non-profit status by setting up a non-profit group, not a recognized as a “church” or “religion” as such, but merely a tax-exempt entity or entity to which donations may be made for tax deductions. These are all established
    facts in any state. And yes, “tax-deductible” and
    “tax-exempt” are used interchangeably to describe
    501-c-3 groups. Go on or any major charity info
    pages you can find, even the US government, to find this
    usage as a description of a group. We all know (especially
    those of us who have long been in the non-profit field)
    that there are more precise meanings of these terms often used in generally interchangeably: “tax-exempt” means a group does not pay taxes, and “tax-deductible” means that those giving them
    donations get to write off the donation from their taxes.

    All of that was known, and it was just the usual hectoring
    blowhard crap that Raven was exhibiting in hammering on
    these distinctions in the belief that people didn’t get it,
    when it was beside the point. The term is used
    interchangeably to mean 501-c-3 charitable status. Far from being caught in some “mistake” I didn’t “admit” I was insisting on the legitimacy of how it was used, and pointing out that there was nothing automatic about wiccan tax exemption as a recognized church. People in alternative beliefs will do almost anything sometimes to get mainstream legitimacy, and that’s why there’s all this effort to grasp as icons like Yolanda King, or the UN, or claiming this or that group got the 501-c-3 status, so Prok must be “wrong”. But those are just examples of how alternatives strive to get recognition. It doesn’t mean they deserve it, or will get it from the public at large.

    So let me state it again for you, hon: not every wiccan
    group can get tax-exemption or tax-deductible status *as a church* or even obtain it as a charitable or educational entity or (whatever you call it in your state or country). That’s because they are not a recognized, established, mainstream religion, full stop. It’s not me who makes this judgement. But the governments of states and countries. Tough luck. Some get the legal status by
    incorporating as non-profits or getting through the legal maze to get the paperwork recognized. But that’s not a proclamation of the general public acceptance and establishment of this alternative belief system.

    And you’ve also misrepresented the whole ludicrous IP discussion.
    I pointed out that people interchange them, whatever
    their technical difference — and cited examples of how
    they do that, on help desk pages. That’s all.
    I’ve always known the difference between the ISP, which
    is a company billing you for Internet service, and the IP,
    which is the numbered URL. I’ve maintained networks myself
    on jobs. So I’ve never understood why all the tinfoil
    hatted dog pictures had to come out. IF I was mistaken
    in a usage of it in typing it hastily, what of it? I
    have no problem in admitting I don’t know something if I
    don’t know it, but in this case, I’ve known the difference between
    IP and ISP since forever, so there’s nothing to “admit”.

    It’s like the tax-deduction issue — the constant, arrogant, knuckleheaded, blowhard hectoring about people supposedly getting the differences “wrong” — when they haven’t — can’t disguise that possibly their group doesn’t deserve a state to grant it to them LOL.

    The notion of the “state of extreme ignorance” that I’m
    alleged to be in regarding wiccan is more than debatable.
    But with this bunch, there’d be no acceptable level of
    “knowledge” accept “uncritical acceptance”. I don’t accept wiccan as
    a religion. I merely tolerate someone else’s acceptance of wiccan.
    I have friends who are former wiccan who have told me
    of their many concerns about this alternative belief
    system and practice. I never gave it a second thought
    until I began to see it in action in games and then hear
    from people who were adherents and then left. From some
    accounts, it has the hallmarks of a cult, from others it
    seems like a harmless practice which mainly seems to help
    women with long histories of abuse from their families or
    spouses or with other big tragedies in their life to cope.
    That often seems the pattern I’ve seen in the wiccan
    believer in games — some kind of broken and sad past, or current tragedies and stresses, and some means to cope.

    No doubt it is many more things to many more people. I’m
    just giving my admittedly limited take on it based on
    my experience. That’s my right. That’s not ignorance,
    that’s my opinion, and my experience. As I said above,
    one of the classic hallmarks of a cult is constantly
    describing its inner lore as just too arcane for the mere
    outsider to master, without many levels of initiation, so
    that he is always in “darkness” or “ignorance” and always
    needing to be “set straight” and believed to be in
    a state of “prejudice”. It defies common sense.

    In TSO, it made sense to question the influence of wiccan and
    BDSM on the children in the game — and there were many
    young children there. In SL, it’s not a debate I’m
    interested in having. Adults are entitled to adopt any
    lifestyle or belief they wish, and it’s their call.
    It’s a free country. I have my opinions on it, just
    as they have their opinions. They can do what they like, although I recognize their own belief systems often do not contain such tolerance of my ability to criticism them – — they can only characterize criticism as “ignorance” or “darkness” or “mental illness” or whatever label they come up with.

    One central point of disagreement we have is the belief
    in a higher power as the main principle of the universe versus the belief in man as the central principle of the universe. Many of these alternative belief systems put man at the center. That’s why Juro is
    busy calling us all to “believe in ourselves” — the usual secular
    humanist agenda. It’s funny that he is “wondering what it would be like” when most of our world and most of our games are already taken up with this belief not in a higher power, but in man.

    And what is more mythical? Some higher entity that created the
    world that we did not create ourselves but came from something
    beyond us? Or the avatar Juro Kothari who disappears if the
    electrical plug is pulled or the Internet is down?

    You may not believe in God, but it’s a good thing that He believes in you : )

    I simply don’t buy that I’m supposed to place all my faith in man as an entity at the center, or in any one specific man or woman on earth, as I believe there is a higher power. But who cares? I’m not in SL to promote, explain, or bare all about my own personal
    beliefs and experiences in religion. It’s not something I care to engage in except for the occasional public discussion event I might hold at an SL church or temple but I have nowhere near the zeal of Athel and others in maintaining an SL site with constant presence and activities on a religious theme.

    Miraren, I don’t have enough hours in the day to go
    traipsing through the great figures of your “religions”
    and picking out quotes from them to hector you the way you’re picking out quotes to try to hector me. But of course a key one from the wiccan books is “”an ye harm none do what ye will”. You don’t at all seem willing to allow anybody else that kind of
    freedom and determination of what “harm” is that you’re
    willing to grant to yourself!

    Coming up with Jesus’ teaachings that you think you’re
    going to sit in judgement on is one of the oldest
    tricks in the book. Indeed, spouting out Jesus’ quotes from the Bible to try to trounce someone on an Internet discussion paqe is hardly good practice of the ideology at the heart of “an ye harm none do what ye will.”

    I do want to venture to say that using the Catholic saints’ statues as totems for magic rituals to get what you want is a bit of an
    abuse of the religion — it’s cherry-picking what you
    want off the religion and not taking all the bits of it
    you don’t like.

    I find most of the belief systems I run across in
    online games have a common theme: getting power over
    other people, and aggrandizing an individual’s ego and justifying him to do whatever he wants. They are not about seeking a higher power, for the most part, and not about altruism. So when I see that coming down the pike, I push back. “Don’t blame the mirror if you have a crooked face.”

  21. juro kothari

    Aug 30th, 2005

    < < It’s funny that he is “wondering what it would be like” when most of our world and most of our games are already taken up with this belief not in a higher power, but in man.

    And what is more mythical? Some higher entity that created the
    world that we did not create ourselves but came from something
    beyond us? Or the avatar Juro Kothari who disappears if the
    electrical plug is pulled or the Internet is down? >> – Prokofy Neva

    My vote is most definately for the ‘higher entity’ – it’s much more mythical and not tangible in any way, save for ‘feelings/beliefs’.

    Juro Kothari, the avatar, is bits and nothing more, except for my shining personality. ;)

    I know that most of the world (thought that might be debatable) is focused on ‘self’ – but my question was directed not to those people, but to the people that expend much of thier time, engery, and finances to religion. Maybe I’m an optimist, but I think if people redirected those efforts unto themselves and thier fellow man vs. an organization – things might be better. Of course, my
    fellow man has proven me wrong time and time again. :)

  22. Antje

    Aug 30th, 2005

    Bright Blessings!

    First, Prokofy, I would like to address something from your second to last post, then we will tackle your pitiful attempts at revising what took place in that thread where you show yourself to be an incredibly shallow-minded, Falwell-esque egomaniac.

    You said that you “asked questions” about Amma. You did not. You pr-emptively attacked Athel, and his beliefs. You stated (read: not asked) that he belonged to a cult. You insinuated , rather arrogantly, that it was because he was young and impressionable, at 19. Hmmm, was he as young and impressionable as you were when you were indoctrinated into the Church? Me thinks not. just how much choice did you have in teh matter? I would guess not much. Athel is, and was likely quite a few years older than you were, when he chose his path. How quickly some of us forget these things as we grow older. Oh how some of us like to believe that simply because we have been on this rock longer than others, we have all the answers, and couldn’t possibly have even the sligtest flaws in our convictions. The problem with people like you is that instead of growing with age, you just become more resolute and closed minded, shutting everything out but your narrow view on things. That is basically self-worship, and self-worship is far worse than any of the things you are accusing others of here my self-aggrandising friend.

    Now a few points on that very enlightening thread.

    “Not progressing” is dead on. I couldn’t have said it better. You’re still making judgements based upon sheer willful ignorance and/or misinformation. You surely have not progressed, and leveling that charge at others in THIS thread is dumb. Just dumb. We weren’t there at that time, so it’s not about us progressing at all. It’s about you and your glassy-eyed, zombified, do or die, adolescent reasoning skills.

    “Set the record straight”? I think we will let that thread speak for the record. Your revisionist attempts are nothing short of obvious. Any person with a whit of reading comprehension can see you for what you really are and what you are trying to accomplish in that thread. A splinter-minded (read: alt employing – some things never change eh?) bigot of epic proportions, who will go to any length to prove a point (or in this case a non-point), even if it means completely destroying any credibilty you may have had up to that point..

    As far as the “not about BDSM or Wicca” claim. Sure, the thread started out about your not-so-clever hoaxing of Uri, although I myself knew from about the 4th or 5th line you were an imposter. When you deal with wanna-be Wiccans frequently on the net frequently, you learn to spot them a mile away. The difference being of course, most of those wanna-be Wiccans are truly interested in Wicca, and are not posing to try and discredit it.

    So yeah, you proved some “valuable” point – you can trick a fansite journalist! Stop the presses! *Hands you a blue ribbon*.

    So then I must ask, if that is all it was about, why the need to portray a Wiccan? Why not any number of other types of individual? I think I know why, and that thread bears out my thoughts. You had an axe to grind with the Wiccan community. You self-styled your self as some sort of messianic figure out to save people from teh evils of Wicca and the BDSM community. (gee, the whole I am going to save you mentality falls hand in hand with your history in SL so far, what a shock!) You wandered around Alphaville for a while trying to beguile Wiccans, asking about learning spells and the like. You made dubious claims that you were propositioned sexually, that is where the sex part comes in, and then the BDSM connection starts to surface.

    This was likely an attempt by you to kill several birds with one stone:

    -Expose Uri as a bad journalist, which I do not think you did. All you did was prove that you are a conniving, malific jackal who can lie to people and get away with it sometimes. The burden of guilt is not then magically lifted from the person perpetrating the lie onto the person bestowing the trust.

    -Expose what a bunch of “bad” people the Wiccans in TSO were via making ignorant assumptions such as conflating Wicca with Satanism, just for starters. This statement made by you in that thread bears this out: “I feel absolutely no requirement to go outside TSO to research wiccan and somehow “enlighten” and “enlarge” my mind… ” So in other words, you feel that it’s ok, nay your “duty”, to judge an entire community without doing your homework first. Why am I not surprised?!!

    -Expose , what a bunch of “deviant” and “ungodly” people the BDSM set was, and how they are supposedly connected to Wicca, based upon your holier-than-thou, uninformed, and jaundiced morality.

    We can and will read and then decide for ourselves what your shenanigans in that thread represent. You do not get to and will not decide for us, thank you very much.

    I am fully aware of the ins and outs of the tax issue, and you still refuse to accept that you were wrong! I am not surprised though given your history. I think I will defer to the IRS definitions, if you don’t mind. Not your “googled to fit my argument” rubbish.

    The fact that this much later, you still cannot admit to using incorrect terminology is utterly ridiculous, and speaks volumes about your character. Doesn’t the bible teach that no one but God himself is infallible? I think it does, and the fact that I have never once seen you admit to being wrong about even the most minor things, like terminology, makes me think that you need some extra confessional time.

    I don’t recall ever saying that “every Wiccan group” gets tax-exempt (read: NOT tax-deductible) status. You can eat that herring for dinner my friend.

    I also did not express any desire to co-opt the traditionally Judeo-Christian rooted word “church”.

    You claimed your reason for not attacking the BDSM and Wiccan groups on SL is shaky at best. You simply don’t have the excuse of children to use in SL. It seems like you used them as a crutch in TSO for your campaign of intolerance and ignorance. I also think you know your bull-headed moral majority like efforts would be handily trampled into the dirt in short order, were you to try that in SL.

    Until next time Prokofy, be well, and remember, E-Bay sells keyboards. I suggest one of the old IBM ones – tough as nails, and just like Buddy Lee says, “ya can’t bust ‘em!”

  23. Prokofy Neva

    Aug 30th, 2005

    Antje, I just don’t feel like debating religion with you, hon. To do so, I’d have to be one of those Internet bare-all, tell-all souls, and I’m not. I just don’t give a good goddamn enough about you and your tirade to put you in your place with the facts of my life. It’s honestly none of your business. It’s my right to make statements about people being in cults at the age of 19. Why, they are immune to criticism by their tender age or their zealotry? No way. As for the Satanism thing, you cultists are so tied up in distinguishing amongst the different cults and alternative belief systems that you don’t realize that to one of these born-again Christians, especially, not to mention mainstream churches, pagans and wiccan are all of the devil, all of the Evil One, so that’s why they conflate it with Satanism. I dunno, Satan himself is good at making fine distinctions, too, I guess that’s why we say the devil is in the details.

    It seems very important to you to name-call, malign, belittle, berate, hector. I suggest you look into whatever mirror of the soul your religion provides you with just a little harder….

  24. Miraren Firefly

    Aug 31st, 2005

    You got two things wrong, Prokofy. Number one is this:
    I do not follow “An it harm none, do what ye will.” It is a deeply flawed philosphy that attempts to provide answers for all life’s questions in one sentence, thereby forgoing all the subtleties of developed philosophy and essentially leaving most matters up to the person without so much as a guideline. This is one of the many ways in which I am, since you seem not to have noticed, *NOT WICCAN*.
    Number two:
    I never mentioned “cherry picking” Catholic saints and using them for magickal rituals – I mentioned PRAYING to them, and that’s exactly what I do. I pray; in fact, I often use traditional Catholic form prayers in addition to my own personal requests, just as any Catholic would. It is not disrespectful, at least not according to Rev. Bitanga, and it’s his church. I very much respect Catholicism as a relgion; it is the Catholic Church, the organization, that I despise.
    Another thing to clear up:
    At least half of my magickal rituals are exclusively for the benefit of others – healing of sick friends, divination for friends and acquaintances (and the occasional customer), healing of Mother Earth, requests for help and guidance, et cetera. Friends come to me and ask to do rituals with me because they have felt my good will, know me well and know I have nothing to hide.
    That is, you will notice, directly counter to your description of magick as greedy and powermongering. It may or may not be tree-hugging and hippie-like, but that’s beside the point – whatever the cultural or counterculteral bias, my (and most people’s) witchcraft is anything but malicious. I have successfully hexed someone, but only once – I hexed the severely physically abusive boyfriend of one of my best friends, knowing full well what I was dealing with. It did me some harm, but it did him a lot more, enough to weaken him sufficiently so that my friend was able to break free from the grip he held over her mind. That is the only sort of situation for which I advocate “black” magick, and then only when it is done by a wise and cautious (and at least moderately experienced) practicioner.

    Finally, Prokofy, I notice that you have (quite ungracefully) sidestepped the fact that you utterly fail to even attempt to follow some of the primary precepts of your own religion. I will simply keep bringing this up until you finally answer me. Why is it that you do not make an effort to follow large sections of Christ’s teachings?
    “How prepared do you think Earth’s defenses would be against, say, a full-scale alien invasion? TELL ME!” – Invader Zim

  25. Miraren Firefly

    Aug 31st, 2005

    Oh, and one other thing, Prokofy:
    I do believe in God. I just don’t call god male and give Him a big white beard. I view all gods/goddesses as elements of one higher spiritual force, much like the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are in Catholicism.
    So when are you going to tell me why you attempt to selectively follow Jesus’ teachings?

  26. Joe Public

    Aug 31st, 2005

    >>I dunno, Satan himself is good at making fine distinctions, too, I guess that’s why we say the devil is in the details.

    >>You may not believe in God, but it’s a good thing that He believes in you : )

    Classic god bothering evangelist preacherisms!

    Have you noticed how many of prok’s “arguments”, apart form the aformentioned fallicies kindly provided, come very close to the traditional brain washing techniques – used extensively by a continuum of people from christian revivalists (A cult!) through to the KGB.

  27. Prokofy Neva

    Aug 31st, 2005

    Miraren, your posts are golden, because instead of me doing all the heavy-lifting around here and having to explain why “an harm none” is a deeply flawed philosophy, you’ve done it handily for me! So all the wiccans can turn their flame on to you now lol.

    Even better, you’ve admitted to actually attempting to use a “hex” on somebody, and even best, claimed that it worked to harm the guy. You’ve justified it by explaining that he’s “abusive” at least from your side of the story (and spare as the rehearsal of some RL peoples’ dramas, please). That tells me all I need to know, that you believe you have power over other people, and that you alone are authorized and can decide how and when to punish them. Most readers will “get” what’s up with this — I won’t have to do any more arguing. It’s astounding really, how on these Internet fights you can just let them talk, and they’ll do all the work of exposing themselves for you.

    As for whether or how I practice my religion, one of the sayings in the Bible is about not donning sackcloth and ashes and standing on the corner and shouting about how pious you are. Whatevever!

  28. Miraren Firefly

    Aug 31st, 2005

    “These Americans believed that one great male god ruled the world. Sometimes they divided him into three parts, which they called father, son, and holy ghost. They ate crackers and wine or grape juice, believing that they were eating the son’s body and drinking his blood. If they believed strongly enough, they would live on forever after they died.” (115)
    ~ from Lies My Teacher Told Me ~

    :gets out the sponge: BRAINWASHING TIME! >:D

  29. Miraren Firefly

    Aug 31st, 2005

    Oh, and Prokofy, when are you going to tell me why you attempt to selectively follow Jesus Christ’s teachings?

  30. Prokofy Neva

    Aug 31st, 2005

    um, when you tell me why it’s important for you to judge others and not care if you are judged and also dispense with god-like vengeance on people you think have done wrong? Jeez, that ought to be obvious lol.

  31. Joe Public

    Aug 31st, 2005

    “Even better, you’ve admitted to actually attempting to use a “hex” on somebody, and even best, claimed that it worked to harm the guy.”

    ah…well good to see the church has decided to update its exorscism manual. Not like anyone has ever been harmed through that now, is it?

  32. Antje

    Sep 2nd, 2005

    “Miraren, your posts are golden, because instead of me doing all the heavy-lifting around here and having to explain why “an harm none” is a deeply flawed philosophy, you’ve done it handily for me! So all the wiccans can turn their flame on to you now lol.”

    How about “an eye for an eye” for “flawed philosophy”?!!

    Geez, you’d think with all the crap going down what with Prokofy’s FIC part deux PR nightmare, he wouldn’t have time to still be arguing with people he has said multiples aren’t worthy of his replies!

    We won’t be “turning our flame” on Miraren. She is welcome to her own beliefs without being told she is fucked in the head for it like you like to do with people who don’t follow your stepford wives dogma.

    We’ll leave the light on for ya Prokofy! Please close up shop, turn out the lights, and lock the door after you’ve come down off your cross for the night.

  33. Prokofy Neva

    Sep 2nd, 2005

    Joe, can you get the difference between a witch putting a hex on someone to harm them, and a priest performing an exorcism on a person to remove a devil who is harming a person? Well, then…. If you can’t understand the basic differences, you’re going to go searching all over hell’s half acre to find some example of a priest misusing this ritual. So…could you go back then and look at the witches and tell me, did you extensive google research not find any examples of witches harming themselves or others? I’d beg to differ, merely based on the tales of my own friends who left these groups. Whatever!

  34. Joe Public

    Sep 2nd, 2005

    “Joe, can you get the difference between a witch putting a hex on someone to harm them, and a priest performing an exorcism on a person to remove a devil who is harming a person”

    Evil takes many forms…satanists and catholic inqusitors have done equal damage.

    You imply it’s ok for the priest to perform an arcane ritual (ie: a form of hex, but it’s a christian one called an exorcism) even if he’s wrong in his analysis?
    Who says it’s a devil and not a disease?
    A priest with no training in medicine?

    Funny, isn’t this why the vatican finally had to upgrade their exorcism manual to reflect the fact that science may know more than them?

    But hey, he’s a priest and he’s just doing his job, right?
    He’s just following the manual (or is that just following orders?)
    I suppose we just have to believe him and excuse it?

    soooo…if that’s ok then why is it any different in Mirarens case where she states:
    “I have successfully hexed someone, but only once – I hexed the severely physically abusive boyfriend of one of my best friends, knowing full well what I was dealing with. It did me some harm, but it did him a lot more, enough to weaken him sufficiently so that my friend was able to break free from the grip he held over her mind.”

    Both sides have good intentions, but according to your philosophy only the officially sanctioned reality of exorcism ritual is allowed to treat the person who is “possess-ed of devils”?

    Oh…I get…she’s wrong coz she’s a witch!!!

    “some example of a priest misusing this ritual”

    oh I think there is more than one example…how about 2000 years of documented ritual abuse?
    Did someone mention the spanish inquistion?

    But as usual you will no doubt brush the evidence off as either:
    a) an internut hoax
    b) evul propaganda
    c) an isolated abberation, which may or may not have happened
    d) and even if it did happen it’s okay cos they deserved it
    e) whatever lol … they are just a bunch of tree hugging pagan wiccan heathens who deserve to be boiled in oil after a jolly good inquisition (ie: traditional BDSM session) lol

    Maybe you should leave the kitchen, prokky…

  35. Buttery Shortbread

    Sep 2nd, 2005

    OMG!!! I had NO idea my article would cause this much conflict… Please folks, lighten up. The article was meant basically to spotlight a sim which many SL’ers would enjoy visiting.

    Also, Athel, yes, you were right on in supposing that I mentioned what I did because I was interested in your personal spirituality. A good reporter should always be concerned with covering as many aspects of a story as possible.

  36. Antje

    Sep 2nd, 2005

    Joe said:

    “But as usual you will no doubt brush the evidence off as either:
    a) an internut hoax
    b) evul propaganda
    c) an isolated abberation, which may or may not have happened
    d) and even if it did happen it’s okay cos they deserved it
    e) whatever lol … they are just a bunch of tree hugging pagan wiccan heathens who deserve to be boiled in oil after a jolly good inquisition (ie: traditional BDSM session) lol”

    BWAHAHAHAHAHA! TY Joe! I needed that today! :)

    Yes, it sure appears that the Church is the originator of BDSM, doesn’t it?

  37. Joe Public

    Sep 2nd, 2005

    Hi Buttery,
    It would be great to lighten up, however it’s almost impossible to have an intelligent discussion when “hectoring arseholes” like Prok twist a cool thread into a forum for ego feeding and mental masturbation. Analyse closely how this thread evolved and you will see how it develops.

    It’s actually sort of fruitless and ultimately meaningless to even attempt to disagree with prok (theories of proks real motivations aside), because no matter how well structured and factually supported you present a case prok will find some lame way of twisting the discussion to support his/her view as the only version of official reality that should exist. Lessons learnt from close study of the Russian communist party, I suppose.

    And if all else fails prok uses the ultimate weapon of mass destraction: closing a post with “Whatever!” (see post 83 above)

    It’s an interesting new development in the english language…whatever!

    What’s he/she really saying with it?

    “Whatever” is as incendiary as it is nonchalant: the nonchalance is what makes it incendiary. “Whatever” turns supposed disengagement into something withering and mean. The word immediately exhibits a complete lack of respect for your point of view or situation. It’s basically saying your point of view is crap.
    ref: recent article

    Actually I’ve had some fun with this thread – it’s not everyday you get to poke a pumped up windbag in the eye and watch them whizz around the discussion room like limp balloon:-)

    Hey, you know what would be really interesting…to see prokies code of journalistic ethics. But I suspect it does not exist…

  38. Prokofy Neva

    Sep 3rd, 2005

    Joe, I’m going to try one last time. Can you see the difference between a) a witch putting a hex on someone to harm them based on her unilateral notion that that person deserves punishment, based on facts over which she alone is judge and jury; and b) a priest performing a rituatal to exorcise an evil spirit harming a person and end that harm, and making that judgement based on tradition, scripture, the authority of the church and his superiors?

    One action seeks to harm a person; the other action seeks to end harm. Perhaps both accomplish nothing in a world of scientifc scrutiny. But intent is all. If a priest occasional misuses this ritual in fact to upset a person psychologically and think they have a devil, when they don’t, that stands in contrast to the numerous times when he freed the person of their satantic possession. Whatever you think about these judgements and what backs them, in the case of the witch, she’s trying to cause harm, in the case of the priest, he’s trying to end harm. In the case of the witch, she gets to decide about who to punish without anything higher over her to curb her egotism. In the case of the priest, his motives are better (ending not causing harm) and he has the church and God over him to make the judgement.

  39. Joe Public

    Sep 3rd, 2005

    Prok, I’m going to try one last time.

    soooooo…all those people throughout history who died (and families/lives ruined) at the hands of so called priests performing exorcism rituals are now officially downgraded by you to “occasional misuses this ritual in fact to upset a person psychologically and think they have a devil, when they don’t” and “In the case of the priest, his motives are better (ending not causing harm) and he has the church and God over him to make the judgement.”


    I think thats called the Nuremburg defence.

    Go check that out…as a journo of foriegn relations it should not be too much of a strain. You have heard of it?

    So intent excuses all, even when guided by superstition, dogma, and old men in funny robes with arcane rituals, incense, and chanting?

    How is that any better than a person making ” her unilateral notion that that person deserves punishment, based on facts over which she alone is judge and jury;” (ie: the vigilante defence)

    Let me guess your response to save you the time….

    It’s ok cos god told me to do it?

    I rest my case, sunshine.

    Like, whatever! lol

  40. Prokofy Neva

    Sep 3rd, 2005

    Um, “Joe Public” you didn’t present any case showing that through the ages, priests “killed” or “harmed” all these people upon whom they performed exorcisms. I don’t see the factual report. Where is it? Is this going to be one of those fake numbers games like claiming you can also count all the people “murdered by crusaders in the crusades in the name of Christianity”? This is a hilarious Internet sport but it isn’t actual truth-seeking. Show me some reliable research that proves that through the ages, the Church harmed more people than it hurt with exorcisms, and I can look at it. BTW, exorcisms are not used much in the Catholic Church. It’s quite rare. It’s more the Protestant churches that use this ritual quite frequently.

  41. Joe Public

    Sep 3rd, 2005

    Um, “Prokofy Neva” you didn’t present any case showing that through the ages, witches “killed” or “harmed” all these people upon whom they performed hexes. I don’t see the factual report. Where is it? Is this going to be one of those fake numbers games like claiming you can also count all the people “murdered by wiccans in the moonlight bonking rituals”? This is a hilarious Internet sport but it isn’t actual truth-seeking. Show me some reliable research that proves that through the ages, the Witches harmed more people than it hurt with hexes, and I can look at it.
    BTW, exorcisms are used much in the Catholic Church, as well as protestant. The previous pope himself reportedly did three.

  42. Antje

    Sep 3rd, 2005

    Um, whatever, duh, rofl, lol.

    I am beginning to wonder if Prokofy isn’t 15 years old.

    Such witticisms from the self-appointed intellectual master!

    Not that he’s made any intelligent replies here, but even had he, they would be hopelessly stained by the use of these dismissive, juvenile literary devices.

    Who can take anyone who uses such vacuous and sophomoric language seriously, especially when they claim to be some mover in the RW political arena?

    What a laggard.

  43. Prokofy Neva

    Sep 3rd, 2005

    Um, I’m not 15? And I’m not claiming to be some mover in the RW political arena? Huh? Are you mixing up SL and RL or something LOL?

    Oh, so wiccan is just made up stuff, a cult, fake, they don’t really harm people they hex? oh ok. Glad to hear it! Like I said, great to have you all go at it and discredit this stuff then make me do all the work and get all the flames.

    Now, does the intent of the human heart matter at all? The intent of the witch is the harm with her hex. That’s wrong. And the intent of the priest is not to harm, but end harm, by driving out a devil with an exorcism. Life is about choices. I know which one I chose.

  44. Joe Public

    Sep 3rd, 2005

    “”then make me do all the work and get all the flames.”

    oh…poor old widdle proky have to do some worky on factual research for a change. There, there diddums. Swallow the bads medicums, it’s good for you in the long run.

    ” And the intent of the priest is not to harm, but end harm, by driving out a devil with an exorcism.”
    or you could try a little more hard science to understand that the devils in peoples heads may be a little more rationally explainable than generic catholic control variables.

    But, like, whatever! lol… As you like it!

    All the world’s a stage,
    And all the men and women merely players;
    They have their exits and their entrances,
    And one man in his time plays many parts,
    His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
    Mewling and puking* in the nurse’s arms.
    Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
    And shining morning face, creeping like snail
    Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
    Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
    Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
    Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard*,
    Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
    Seeking the bubble reputation
    Even in the canon’s mouth. And then the justice,
    In fair round belly with good capon* lined,
    With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
    Full of wise saws* and modern instances;
    And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
    Into the lean and slippered pantaloon*
    With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
    His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
    For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
    Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
    And whistles in his* sound. Last scene of all,
    That ends this strange eventful history,
    Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
    Sans* teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
    Shakespeare (As You Like It, 2. 7. 139-167)

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