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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Philocrites is signing off.

Chris Walton at the 2009 UUA General Assembly; photo by Nancy PierceIt's past time to announce the obvious: Philocrites is done, and I'm unlikely to revive it.

I've been blogging at since 2002, when I started posting essays I had written for various Unitarian Universalist email lists as hand-coded entries. When I started using Blogger in 2003 (here's an archived version), I started looking around for other Unitarian Universalist bloggers. It didn't take long before a bunch of us were in regular conversation and thinking of ourselves as "UU bloggers." Several of us worked together to launch Coffee Hour, a UU group blog, in 2004, and I was sorry to see it expire in 2005. (Dan Harper laments that many UUs have now opted for semi-public conversations at Facebook rather than in truly public forums, and I'm sorry that we didn't have the energy or foresight to transform Coffee Hour into something more like a social networking site using Ning or Drupal to keep those conversations out in the open.) Scott Wells helped me switch to Movable Type in the late summer of 2003, and I've stuck with that platform ever since.

I launched my Guide to UU Blogs in January 2004, and updated it for the last time five years later in January 2009. (Here's the earliest version of the guide, and here's the final version.) My apologies to all the bloggers who have recommended sites to me in the last year; is now the best place to promote your blog.

I'd like to thank several sites for bringing attention my way over the years, especially Holy Weblog!, the Yahoo! Guide to Religion Blogs (long dead), journalist Jeff Sharlet's The Revealer, Beliefnet's Blog Heaven (which has also expired), and Boston Globe religion reporter Michael Paulson's Articles of Faith. And, of course, thanks to Rob Corddry of "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" for giving Philocrites two seconds of fame in a segment in March 2005.

Why am I officially signing off? As I announced almost two years ago, parenthood has consumed the time I used to dedicate to the reading and writing that my style of blogging required. And, in truth, the wind started going out of the sails here in late 2006 when I effectively took the helm at UU World. So I'm very belatedly getting around to saying what is only too obvious: It's time to say thank you and goodbye. I'm looking forward to finding other ways to write on my favorite themes, but I can't pretend that I'll ever find a way to write here the way I once did.

The site will remain intact, however. Below you'll find some of my favorite posts — the best of Philocrites, I hope. To my longtime readers and to everyone who commented here or responded to my posts on their own blogs, my gratitude and warmest regards. And to my fellow Unitarian Universalists, be bold enough to try new technologies that can help you share your liberal religion with others.

Unitarian Universalism
Questions the UUA Principles don't answer: Our Principles are thin, "wholesome abstractions" unless they happen to be embodied in practices and stories and ways of life. (2.6.04)
Do Unitarian Universalists have morals? We focus on the qualities of people's actions more than on specific deeds. (7.14.04)
Dogma and liberal doctrine: Unitarian Universalism has fuzzy borders, to be sure, but they are there. (11.21.02)
Scattered thoughts on a divided spiritual identity: Why "Unitarian Universalism" is my faith community but not my religion. (7.2.06)
Megachurch pastor: UUs just don't do transformation: Is it a feature or a bug that Unitarian Universalism is the religion you may already be practicing without knowing it? (12.17.08)
Too much C Major: The problem with a lot of what passes for Unitarian Universalism is that it's often tone-deaf to the complexity of our actual lives. (10.4.03)
On early Unitarian fears of 'popery': Nineteenth-century Unitarians had theological reasons to be wary of Catholicism. (1.30.06)
Isaac Newton's anti-Trinitarianism in the news: How "unitarianism" is a doctrinal leftover that Unitarian Universalists cling to somewhat irrationally. (7.29.07)
Liberal Christianity
The gospel of forgiveness: The story of 5-year-old shooting victim Kai Leigh Harriott anchors my Easter reflections. (4.17.06)
Cape Cod's scaaary Unitarian Universalists: Unfortunately for conservative Christians, liberalism is much broader and much deeper than "creeping Unitarian Universalism." (10.18.04)
Jesus the question: On the paradox of being a Doubting Thomas in a post-Christian church. (12.23.03)
Despair, resurrection, and liberal religion: Is there any legitimate reason to hope for anything beyond brokenness, tedium, and despair? (12.12.96)
We must not postulate simplicity: Reflections on A.N. Whitehead's observation, "So far as concerns religious problems, simple solutions are bogus solutions." (6.1.03)
Making it up, Revelation, and Revelation and relation: A religion needs a way of orienting or rooting its claims on people's loyalties, something on the order of "that's how it really is." (7.02)
A handful of liberal religious definitions: My short definitions of "theology," "religion," "faith," and "worship." (3.11.06)
The ontological imagination: An essay on William James. (5.29.99)
The reality of the symbol of God: An essay on Paul Tillich and Gordon Kaufman. (5.19.98)
The object of religion: An essay on Hegel and Feuerbach. (4.13.98)
The religious availability of John Dewey's God: An essay on John Dewey's A Common Faith. (10.30.97)
Polity and ethics
Inherent goodness got you down? Theological commentary on the mistaken view that "inherent worth and dignity" means "inherently good." (4.25.06)
Dogmatic non-creedalism: Unitarian "non-creedalism" has two quite distinct roots. (9.18.03)
Uh oh, here come the Unitarians and Universalists: What to say to earnest UUs who complain when someone identifies as a "Unitarian" or "Universalist." (5.17.07)
Limits of Unitarian Universalist congregationalism: "Unitarian Universalism" exists beyond the limits of congregational affiliation, and beyond the formal boundaries of the UUA. (2.15.08)
Baptism is more than signing a membership book: We have yet to imagine what a baptism into Unitarian Universalism would be. (2.23.08)
Survey: 0.3 percent of adults are Unitarian Universalists: My take on the Pew Forum survey that estimated that many more people identify as UUs than are members of UU churches. (2.26.08)
Authority in the spirit: Developing a doctrine of the liberal church: An essay in ecclesiology. (1.14.97)
Schleiermacher on true religious fellowship: An essay on Friedrich Schleiermacher's view of the church. (3.2.98)
Can a fundamentalist be a unitarian? On the unitarianism of Jehovah's Witnesses and the Biblical Unitarians. (8.13.03)
Was Channing a biblical inerrantist? The early American champion of Unitarianism believed in the reliability of scripture, not its inerrancy. (1.3.03)
"Words are not the only language": Henry Whitney Bellows's view of scripture: An essay on 19th-century Unitarian biblical interpretation. (4.5.97)
Beware "Old Testament" comparisons: I refuse to believe that most Americans have deliberately sequestered themselves in ideological ghettos. (9.23.04)
Banishing faith from politics? Good luck!: An argument for theological criticism of politics. (10.24.04)
Democrats need some "thick we's": The left should go to church. (12.12.04)
Two cheers for conservative liberals: Making sense of "conservative" Unitarian Universalists. (6.1.06)
Bush and Colbert, Lear and the Fool: Shakespearean commentary on the White House Correspondents Dinner. (5.2.06)
Is there political diversity among UUs? We should be careful not to make our politics into a new kind of orthodoxy. (12.26.02)
More than words: What would James Luther Adams have made of Hobbes's statement that "covenants, without the sword, are but words"? (4.30.03)
Resisting stem cell utopianism: A few thoughts on the differences between fetuses and human beings. (9.14.04)

Copyright © 2010 by Philocrites | Posted 2 January 2010 at 5:02 PM

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will shetterly:

January 2, 2010 06:15 PM | Permalink for this comment

It's been a great run! Congratulations!


January 2, 2010 06:38 PM | Permalink for this comment


Sarah Gibb Millspaugh:

January 2, 2010 06:52 PM | Permalink for this comment

Thank you for blessing us with this blog over the years - a source for many lively and thoughtful conversations and ruminations. I appreciate your intentional ending of the blog, rather than letting it fade away. And thanks much for the "best of"... we'll look those up!
Happy new year,

Christine RObinson:

January 2, 2010 06:58 PM | Permalink for this comment

Thanks for being an innovator, P, and may parenthood bring you joy! Christine

Desmond Ravenstone:

January 2, 2010 07:18 PM | Permalink for this comment

Thank you for all your contributions. You've set a high bar for all of us, and the UU online community is certainly the better for it.

Scott Wells:

January 2, 2010 07:42 PM | Permalink for this comment

I appreciate your blogging, your parting glance and that you're keeping it up as a record of your work here.

See you at and -- one of these days -- again in the real world.

Jeff Wilson:

January 2, 2010 10:02 PM | Permalink for this comment

It was great while it lasted--there's no shame in moving on when life changes. Thanks for a terrific run.

Lois Reborne:

January 3, 2010 02:16 PM | Permalink for this comment

Yours was the first UU blog I ever read - opening up the great world of UU thought. I'm so glad you are keeping up the archives. Blessed be!

Adam Tierney-Eliot:

January 3, 2010 04:54 PM | Permalink for this comment

I miss you already. Great memories, though. Best to your lovely fam in the real world!


January 4, 2010 10:42 PM | Permalink for this comment

You're missed.


January 5, 2010 04:04 PM | Permalink for this comment

So sad to see you go, but I know a lot more now than I did ten months ago about the time pressures of parenting! Hoping for a reincarnation of Philocrites in another season of your life.


January 5, 2010 08:09 PM | Permalink for this comment

I guess all good things must come to an end...


January 5, 2010 08:19 PM | Permalink for this comment

Thanks for 7+ years!

I wish Philocrites weren't ending -- but at least we can still read your writing in UU World -- and hey, your kid is really cute in the pics I've seen on FB.

And you must have been the first explicitly UU blogger, no?


January 6, 2010 10:06 AM | Permalink for this comment

You will be missed. As one of the other commentors said, you were one of the first UU blogs I read, which led to many others. Thanks for your hard work and wonderful writing in sharing the UU good news and inspiring thinking.

The Ghost of Carl J. Westman:

January 8, 2010 11:36 AM | Permalink for this comment

Best wishes! As a parent, you will give more of yourself than you ever thought possible. Enjoy, and always have a camera handy.

BTW, you might want to keep "Philocrites" as your nom de plume over at UUWorld or elsewhere.



January 12, 2010 09:48 AM | Permalink for this comment

Thanks to several other UU bloggers for the kind words about my work here:

"That Post About Philo" (Chalicechick, "The Chalice Blog," January 4)

"Everything Passes: A Salute to Philocrites" (James Ford, "Monkey Mind," January 4)

"Philocrites: A Damn Fine Blogger and Paragon of [FACIAL HAIR] Manscaping" (PeaceBang, "Beauty Tips for Ministers," January 4)

"So Long, Philocrites" (Sean Dennison, "Ministrare," January 4)

"Philocrites Signs Off" (Kari Kopnick, "Chalice Spark," January 5)

"What Makes a Good Blogger" (Dan Harper, "Yet Another Unitarian Universalist," January 7)

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