Welcome to Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, written by Dan Harper. Generally speaking, I post several times a week.
Header images: Lichens in the genus Cladonia, Camp Meeker, Calif.; Mist in the hills over Dutch Bill Creek; Old logging road above Dutch Bill Creek.
About Dan Harper
Professionally, I’m the Associate Minister of Religious Education at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto, California (UUCPA). I live with my long-time partner, Carol Steinfeld, a writer specializing in ecological pollution prevention issues, particularly water and wastewater. Carol and I live in San Mateo, California, in the former caretaker’s house of an active cemetery. Yes the neighbors are quiet, except the owls at night.
Before I became a minister, I worked as sculptor’s apprentice, yardman in a lumberyard, salesperson, carpenter, clerk in a health food store, and director of religious education.
Current professional interests include transition management in congregations, assessment and program evaluation, liberal religious theology, congergational administration, general religious education. Unfortunately, I generally don’t have time to officiate at weddings or memorial services outside of members and friends of my current congregation.
In my spare time, I enjoy birding and nature observation, hiking and walking, singing (Sacred Harp, choral, and folk music), and amateur radio.
You can reach me at danrharper at aol dot com. If you prefer snail mail, please write to me at the following address:
c/o Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto
505 E. Charleston Rd.
Palo Alto, California 94306
About “Yet Another Unitarian Universalist”
From the sixth anniversary post, 2011:
When this blog began on February 25, 2005, I didn’t think anyone would bother to read yet another Unitarian Universalist (UU) blog; after all, there were more than forty UU blogs already. So I named my new blog “Yet Another Unitarian Universalist Blog,” and figured I’d get maybe two readers — my dad, and my sweetheart. But within days of the first post, people in the congregation I was then serving in Geneva, Illinois, came up to me and said they liked reading my blog. A couple of the old established UU blogs noticed, and placed me on their blogrolls, and pretty soon I had readers from as far away as Alaska and Europe.
I started out hosting this blog on AOL’s old blogging site, but within six months ran into the limitations of what was becoming outdated blogging software. I learned about WordPress, and moved my blog to my own Web site. Somewhere along the line, I dropped the last word of the original title, and the blog became “Yet Another Unitarian Universalist.”
For the first few years I was writing this blog, religious liberals were fascinated by the blogging medium. I think some religious liberals thought blogging was going to reverse the decline of liberal religion. When that didn’t happen, they turned their fascination turned towards social networking tools like Facebook. Of course, what we really need to save liberal religion is face-to-face personal relationships along with a renewed and deepened theology. While my blog cannot help much with those face-to-face relationships (except to urge you to join a face-to-face religious community), I hope it provokes conversation about renewing and deepening our liberal theologies.
In my fifth year of blogging, I began to grow restive with the blog format I had been using since 2005. I wanted to change the style and content of what I was writing — not a big change, but a change towards challenging myself to think and feel more deeply about liberal religion. I began moving slowly in that direction, and although I thought my changes would drive readers away, what actually happened was that more and more people were reading this blog; at the beginning of 2010, I averaged about 4,500 unique visitors a month, and by the end of the year, I was averaging about 8,500 unique visitors a month. This is still a tiny number of readers by blogging standards, but it almost doubled my readership.
Then the day before the sixth anniversary, the blog froze up. Completely. All the usual fixes didn’t work. I don’t know what exactly happened, but a malicious intruder had taken over the blog earlier in the week, and I suspect s/he did some kind of damage that killed everything. After getting over a bit of shock and frustration, I realized I was pleased. This was exactly the excuse I needed to finally do a complete redesign of this blog.
And here I am, six years and counting: still writing about liberal religion and progressive spirituality, still deeply concerned with the details of doing face-to-face religion, still engaging in conversations with you, the readers.
From the eighth anniversary post, 2013:
I’m still a zine writer who wound up writing a religion blog by mistake. A zine writer is always looking for readers beyond his or her narrow social circle, which means Facebook will always feel restrictive. A zine writer is, by definition, long-winded, which means that Twitter will never offer enough space. A zine writer feels fondness towards outmoded publishing techniques, like cut-and-paste photocopying and hectographs, and by contrast feels little fondness for the newest and shiniest social media platform.
Finally, a zine writer publishes because he or she is expecting readers to write back. And you, dear readers, do write back — you write comments, you send email, sometimes you send me notes and books and dogtags and old magazines with interesting articles. Blogger and author John Scalzi sneers at tiny blogs like this (he really does; I went to a presentation he gave and heard him do so). Whatever. You, the readers, make this all worth while. Thank you for eight great years.
Update, April, 2018:
I think at this point most of the people reading this blog are looking at older posts they found through a search engine. One of my goals when I started this blog was to experiment with SEO (search engine optimization) by writing definitive articles on obscure topics ignored by other Web sites; since then, I have found myself writing on obscure topics, particularly obscure liberal religious topics, simply because I found I enjoyed writing about such things.
This strategy (if writing what I feel like writing can be called a strategy) has paid off in unexpected ways. In 2005, blogs used to be the primary form of social media, and there was often a lively conversation here on this blog. Today, in 2018, this blog sees hardly any comments, but I still hear from people who read it. Today, in 2018, I suspect most of my readers arrive here as the result of typing an obscure search string into a search engine. However you get here, I’m still grateful to you, dear reader, for reading what I have written.