This week, I attended the Digital Religion Symposium & Workshop, where I listened to Christopher Helland’s speech on “Approaching Rituals Online.” He has studied and explored the vast religious rituals people perform while on the Internet that is created by different religious communities. According to Helland, a ritual is a very diverse thing, of substance and function. “A ritual is purposeful engagement with the scared (whatever the sacred maybe for those involved).” Online rituals are preformed on a virtual space where people can attend while on the Internet. This may look something like the virtual community of “Second Life”, where people are avatars and can perform almost any activity they desire while in a virtual world. The virtual space is considered as a sacred place, because it is where participants go to perform ritualistic activities. Those who come in and disturb the ritual service are blocked out and are not allowed back in due to the rituals importance. Religious communities such as, the Catholic religion, have created virtual ritual spaces online. As technology has developed, the Catholic cathedrals or churches architecture have been created to have more visible details like being in the actual place of worship. According to Helland, rituals are dynamic and always changing thus, is why rituals are accepted to be preformed on a virtual space.
Here is an example of where a virtual ritual may take place: