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Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Who is Philocrites?

Chris Walton - Photo © by Nancy Pierce/UUAPhilocrites is the personal Web site and online persona of Chris Walton.

I am editor of UU World, the quarterly magazine of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, and uuworld.org, the Association's weekly online magazine, where I write regularly about the Unitarian Universalist movement. Before I joined the magazine staff, I was developmental editor of the UUA's WorshipWeb site.

Please note: The views expressed on this site are never intended to represent and do not necessarily reflect the views of UU World magazine, the Unitarian Universalist Association, its officers, board, employees, member congregations, General Assembly, ministers, or anyone else. On this site, I speak only for myself.

I received a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School in 2000. As a Divinity School student, I developed resource guides to Unitarian and Universalist reference works and statistical resources for religious studies, which are available from the Andover-Harvard Theological Library Web site.

My theological essays examine aspects of Unitarian Universalist theology and practice; most were written while I was a student at Harvard Divinity School. My hymns began as an exploration of the American Unitarian tradition of hymnody, which includes writers like Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., Samuel Johnson, Frederick Lucian Hosmer, and Marion Franklin Ham. These writers expressed liberal themes using biblical language in forceful and eloquent lyrics. My hymns are experiments in their tradition, and were written as part of my senior thesis at Harvard Divinity School. Some of my hymns have been sung in United Church of Christ and Unitarian Universalist congregations.

I graduated from the University of Utah in 1994 with an Honors B.A. in English literature. My senior thesis looks at Emersonian themes in anthropologist Loren Eiseley's book The Unexpected Universe. As an undergraduate I also studied classical Greek and ancient and modern philosophy, especially the work of Alfred North Whitehead.

Since 1996 I have preached to a number of congregations in Massachusetts, including the First Parish in Concord, the First Parish in Framingham, the Second Parish in Hingham, the First Unitarian Universalist Society in Middleborough, the Eliot Church of South Natick, the Society of King's Chapel in Boston, and the First Congregational Society in Jamaica Plain, as well as the Trinitarian Congregational Church in Concord. I have also preached at the General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association and at the First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City.

When people want to pigeonhole me theologically or ideologically, I always squirm — but I can sympathize with their interest in knowing where I'm coming from. To make things simple, I sometimes say that my religion is Christianity; my theology is liberal; and my denominational affiliation is Unitarian Universalist.

To add an autobiographical complexity: I was raised in a devout Mormon family in Utah but experienced a "deconversion" of sorts in 1989 when I was an Ezra Taft Benson Scholar at Brigham Young University. No, it's not a story I've ever found an adequate way to tell; suffice it to say that I'm a post-Mormon liberal Christian Unitarian Universalist — and if that leaves you with questions, that's makes two of us!

What does 'Philocrites' mean?

"Philocrites" is a Greek word, cobbled together from philo, "love," and krites, "judgment." (Years ago, unable to think of an English word to use as a Yahoo name that someone else hadn't already picked, I finally discovered a use for my minor in Classical Greek!) I pronounce it fi-LAH-kra-tees, but you can call me Chris.

[Last updated 8.23.07]

Copyright © 2003 by Philocrites | Posted 30 December 2003 at 8:00 PM

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