Welcome to Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, written by Dan Harper. Generally speaking, I post once a week.
About “Yet Another Unitarian Universalist”
From the sixth anniversary:
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out hosting this blog on AOL’s old blogging site, but within six months ran into the limitations of what was becoming outdated blogging software.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:
…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.
— February, 2013
About Dan Harper
Professionally, I’m the Assistant Minister of Religious Education at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto, California (UUCPA). Palo Alto is in the heart of Silicon Valley, and just a few miles away from Stanford University, so as you’d expect there are plenty of people in the congregation who work in hi-tech and/or academia. As a suburban church, we enjoy the advantages of suburbia, as well as face the problems of suburban life (the congregation has done a lot of work to support homeless people who live in and around Palo Alto). As a Unitarian Universalist congregation, we are committed to social justice inititatives such as extending same-sex marriage beyond California, now that it’s finally legal here (again).
I live with my partner of more than twenty years, Carol Steinfeld, who is a writer specializing in ecological pollution prevention issues, particularly water and wastewater. I took the picture below when Carol was at the Havusupai Indian reservation doing consulting work on composting toilets in the campground there (Carol is on the left with Havusu Falls just behind her, Jack and Sharon Erhardt are on the right). Carol’s books include The Composting Toilet System Book (with David del Porto — and scroll down a bit on this Web page to see two of my illustrations for this book), Liquid Gold: The Lore and Logic of Using Urine To Grow Plants, and Reusing the Resource: Adventures in Ecological Wastewater Recycling (with David del Porto).
Carol and I live in San Mateo, California. We like living in a white-minority city, and we lower our carbon footprint by walking to stores, living in a multi-unit building, and taking trains and buses whenever we can.
Before I became a minister, I worked as sculptor’s apprentice, warehouse help, 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. For professional qualifications and experience, please see my curriculum vitae. At present, I generally don’t have time to officiate at weddings or memorial services outside my current congregation, but I do have limited availability for consulting, outside preaching, and contract writing.
My non-professional interests include hiking and birding, especially in urban ecosystems. I do quite a bit of recreational reading and writing, and maintain a blog on Sacred Harp singing. I sing regularly at Bay area Sacred Harp singings, and with the City College of San Francisco chorale. I am a licensed amateur radio operator, KJ6ZWR.
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