The pandemic has made the Internet an indispensable source of spiritual nourishment of believers. The sad thing is, although online worship cannot fully manifest the incarnational reality of the Mass and the sacraments, many Catholics have grown content with just attending livestreamed religious services, instead of going to church. Worse, there is an increasing number of people who have been using the Internet to establish their own online churches.
For instance, an avid fan founded the First Church of Tiger Woods, fully convinced that Woods was God himself because of the golfer’s seemingly “miraculous” shots. The founder argues: “If God could choose to appear as a Jewish carpenter, why could He not take the form of a 21st century, multi-ethnic, superstar golfer?” But because of Tiger Wood’s moral indiscretions, the founder closed the church, after changing its name to The Damnation of Tiger Woods.
Another cyber church is the Virtual Church of the Blind Chihuahua. The church describes itself as “the sacred place in cyberspace named after a little dog with cataracts that barked sideways at strangers because he couldn’t see them.” The chihuahua is supposed to symbolize all of us, barking at a God we cannot see. Its main creed is: “We can’t be right about everything we believe in, and thanks God we don’t have to be.” This explains why this church refuses membership to fundamentalists who take themselves too seriously, always insisting that they are right while all the rest of mankind are wrong.
People who doubt and suspect everything will find solace in the Church of Reality. Members pompously call themselves realists because they say they are searching for what is real. They look down on the members of other churches and call them “sheep” because they just follow their leaders without question. It is strange that this church considers sin as God’s fault although they proclaim that they don’t believe in God until they actually see Him.
A cyber church that explicitly excludes lawyers, auditors, and tax agents goes with the acronym COQO, which stands for the Church of the Quivering Otter. Members are governed by a set of rules which they call “The Nine Basic Suggestions.” Some of these are: 1) Thou shalt deal fairly. 2) Thou shalt share. 3) Thou shalt eat plenty of fiber.
A man whose name is Hacim claimed that he had been given a message from God. He realized that his name, when read backwards, was Micah (one of the minor prophets in the Old Testament). Armed with this revelation, he promptly formed the Church of the Gerbil. A gerbil is a cute mouse with long hind legs and long furry tail, often kept as children’s pet in many countries in Asia and Africa. The church believes that “God is a gerbil.” Its code of conduct is summarized in its Ten Condiments, some of which are: 1) Thou shalt listen to the Chipmunk song. 2) Thou shalt not microwave. 3) Thou shalt stand on your head and bark like a chicken.
By the time you read this, another weird-sounding church has been added to this list of cyber churches. Incidentally, I came across this list in the Internet under the heading: HUMOR. It is amazing how many people would ignore that, and seriously join as members, hoping to find solace for their religious longings. This shows that the desire to worship God is like a magnet that draws everyone. But, as C.S.Lewis observed, many of us are like “an ignorant child who refuses a holiday by the sea because he is content on making mud pies in a slum.” We quickly settle for second (or third) best.