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Second Life Loses Gamblers But Finds God

An Italian Catholic priest is urging the faithful to use the virtual world to get in touch with reality.

An Italian Catholic priest is urging the faithful to participate in Second Life as a way to keep people from losing touch with the real world, though Linden Lab's decision to ban gambling may reconnect more people with reality than spiritual intervention.

In the recent issue of La Civilta Cattolica, a Vatican-approved religious journal, the Rev. Antonio Spadaro explores the popularity of Second Life and advises his readers to visit the virtual world. He recommends experiencing the world from the inside to understand its potential and risk.

The risk "is the alienation, the shelter in a fictitious and painless world" that may lead people "to lose the contact with 'first life' and its incomparable wealth," he said, as translated by Google.

Linden Lab's recent gambling ban, however, may save more souls than intervention by those devoted to the divine. Following last week's clampdown on virtual casinos, the blogosphere is abuzz with talk of a financial meltdown and customer exodus in Second Life.

"The casino folks are pulling out of SL, because they can't afford to maintain their holdings without income," wrote journalist and Second Life resident Shava Nerad on the Terra Nova blog Sunday. "They have their assets locked, apparently -- something that's been remarkably hard to substantiate."

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