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Friday, October 1, 2004

Meet your fellow Philocritics, part 3.

In our first poll of Philocrites readers, I learned that I'm preaching to the choir: 72% of you say you agree with me "much of the time." (Such amazing powers of persuasion!) So rather than comment on Kerry's out-of-the-park homerun last night — you'll probably find much to agree with in Ryan Lizza and William Saletan, too — I thought I'd just head right into the end-of-the-month site report.

Thanks for new links this month from Voyager ("One world, one nation" — but lots of slow-loading graphics) and Quaker Quietist ("A traditional Hicksite Quaker and solitary living a life of recollection and inward retirement"). I'm also intrigued and delighted that one of my theological essays has shown up on the syllabus for a course on The Church and Sacramentality at the University of St. Thomas. And somewhat anachronistically, my 1997 essay on John Dewey's idea of God has shown up on a site dedicated to Religion after 9/11. Hmm, not sure about that connection. But thanks for the links!

And, although he doesn't have a regular blogroll, I also want to call attention to Bob's thoughtful god-of-small-things, which I discovered when he linked to my post about the Southern Baptist ministers serving mainline churches in rural northern New England.

Now, on to this week's poll of the Philocritics:



I'm curious about your religious background. I suspect that the largest portion of my regular readers are "religious liberals," but I also suspect that many of us didn't start out that way. I've been thinking about faith odysseys lately — I've always found them compelling — and thought it might be fun to learn a bit about your paths. So the poll this month asks, "When you were 12, what was your religion?" I apologize in advance to readers who were raised in traditions I didn't name: I only get ten answers per poll, and I guessed that these ten were the most likely answers. (If you were a 12-year-old Quaker, Mennonite, Rajneeshi, Christian Scientist, or Muslim, click "Other" and leave a comment with the details.)

For the comments, don't feel that you need to draw a map between Point A and Point Z or wherever you are today, but do name a few big landmarks along the way. As many of you know, I was a Mormon deacon at age 12. At 19 I was an existentially uprooted Mormon exile. At 21 I was surprised to discover Unitarianism. (People laughing in church. That was something I hadn't encountered before.) And in June 2003 on this site I tagged myself a post-orthodox postliberal Christian. (Huh?) Someday I'll fill in the details.

Or perhaps you'd like to answer only one question: What was the most surprising twist in your faith journey?

September was a banner month at Philocrites: 4,568 daily unique visitors and 13,551 visits, a considerable jump. I was surprised to see that Meet Your Fellow Philocritics (9.1.04) was the most-visited entry — but maybe that just goes to show that you are all as curious about the readers of this site as I am!

My Guide to UU Blogs (1.3.04) came next, followed by Catastrophic Success (8.31.04), Knocking on Door for No Apparent Reason (8.4.04, my invitation to share a few Unitarian Universalist jokes over at Coffee Hour), the CBS forged-document-scandal edition of Fonts in the News (9.11.04), the ever-popular Sixteen Fastest Growing UU Churches (1.3.04), the increasingly popular Liberal Blogs (3.7.03, which simply points people to liberal blogs), and The Priesthood of All Believers (8.31.04, about the parishioners who won't abandon their closed Catholic parish). Each of these entries received at least 100 visits this month.

I blog because I can't help myself, but your readership and comments and e-mails and links and your friendly in-person introductions make this a very satisfying obsession. Many thanks!

Copyright © 2004 by Philocrites | Posted 1 October 2004 at 10:12 PM

Previous: 'The least of these.'
Next: Mr. Bush, why don't you go to church?

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10 comments:

RevThom:

October 2, 2004 09:24 AM | Permalink for this comment

When I was twelve I was UU (First Parish in Wayland, Massachusetts.) Been UU ever since...

Stentor:

October 2, 2004 10:55 PM | Permalink for this comment

I was raised ELCA lutheran, and I still consider myself culturally part of mainline protestantism. Over the course of my college career in the university's ecumenical congregation, I drifted toward a more liberal theology. Then a friend mentioned that she was changing her self-description from "pagan" to "unitarian," which led via some Googling to one of those "hey, I didn't know there was a name for what I am!" moments. (Said friend later became my girlfriend, and we discovered that we basically agreed on theological matters despite our observance styles remaining strongly pagan and protestant respectively -- so she's never been to church with me, despite introducing me to my home denomination!)

Melanie:

October 3, 2004 01:57 PM | Permalink for this comment

Chris,

This post ends for me at the MORE jump, the rest of the text is missing along with the comments.

Melanie:

October 3, 2004 05:46 PM | Permalink for this comment

(Using IE 6.0: yes, the poll script messes with Mozilla, and your site is REALLY ugly in IE)

Chris,

You already covered my oddessy elsewhere.

Today, I'm 50, a struggling RC liberal comfortable with liberal Episcopalians, Sikhs, Sufis (I attend the local bikhr sometimes,) and American Orthodox, who sings Taize at the National Cathedral (Episcopal) and chants with Trappist monks, Vietnamese Buddhists and the odd Unitarian. No drumming, though. Hate that.

lynn:

October 3, 2004 11:12 PM | Permalink for this comment

I was a UU at 12, but barely. A good friend had dragged me to her church. Previously unchurched/secular

Kenneth:

October 4, 2004 11:21 AM | Permalink for this comment

At 12 I was oblivious. By 19 I was reading about religion, attending a campus Newman Center with my best friend, and taking a psychic development class. At 21 I was a radical faerie, and at 26 I became a Quaker, as I remain.

liz:

October 4, 2004 01:31 PM | Permalink for this comment

At 12 I didn't have a voice strong enough to actually question authority, so I was a weekly church-going Catholic who did as much as possible to zone out while not actually sleep (and risk snoring) during mass. At 15 I was confirmed (though not enthusiastically) to please my parents. At 18, upon moving out on my own, I stopped going to church altogether. In the past year or so (since reaching my late 20s) I've begun to think about rediscovering religious life, but not returning to Catholicism, since I've never felt in agreement with church teachings, or that I belonged.

Jeff Wilson:

October 4, 2004 06:07 PM | Permalink for this comment

At twelve years of age I was in the middle school group at the Universalist Church of West Hartford, can't remember what the official name was. The previous year we'd graduated from Sunday School, each receiving an inscribed copy of the Bible (Revised Standard Version) from the church at the ceremony. I still have mine and refer to it when I need to look up Biblical matters.

Anna:

October 7, 2004 01:25 PM | Permalink for this comment

My short and fairly uneventful trip went like this:

Methodist growing up, nothing in college, but studied philosophy and religion. After getting married tried Methodist church again. Found it too conservative during lead up to war with Iraq, so went to the UU church, which I had visited a few times during college and grad school.

Anna

David Throop:

October 13, 2004 12:58 AM | Permalink for this comment

I was raised Congregationalist, so coming to a UU church wasn't too much of a stretch. I'd been getting clues all through adolecence. I attended a Jesuit high school and Father King wanted me to do a term paper on Unitarianism - he thought I'd like it. But I wrote on Judiasm instead. In college, a nominally Quaker girlfriend told me I belonged in a Unitarian church.

Still, I remember, first Sunday in December circa 1977. Phoenix fellowship in Atlanta, met in the VFW hall in Piedmont park. There were two larger than life pictures of McArthur and Eisenhower, painted on silk and backlit, overlooking the hall. John Burciaga was the minister, but he wasn't in the pulpit that day. The speaker was a guy from India who kept a kite shop down in Underground Atlanta. He played a film that he and his brother had made, about kitemaking. While it ran, with a sitar soundtrack, he talked about the spiritual discipline of kite flying. How, when he flew a kite, he became the physical connection between the wind and the earth, between the sun and the soil.

He'd brought along a slew of kites and we all went out into Piedmont park. The weeks before had been damp and dreary but this day was sunny with a warm breeze. As I stood in the field, with a silver mylar dragon on a string in my hands, I remember thinking "I don't have any doctrinal problems with these people at all."



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