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Philosophically Unitarian Vs. Institutionally Unitarian

The recent Pew survey on Americans' religious views estimated there were about 677,000 adult UUs in the country, whereas the official membership rolls only contain 157,515 adult members. This prompted some discussion about who these people are who identify as UU to a survey-taker, but aren't part of a UU church. My theory is that a significant number of those people can be accounted for by the fact that "what religion are you?" is both a philosophical question about what you believe as well as an institutional question about what groups you're involved with. As I said in the comments to Philocrites' post:

I don't know how typical I am of the elusive identify-as-UU-but-don't-join-a-congregation demographic, but for what it's worth, here's my experience:

I took to identifying as UU many years ago for philosophical reasons, long before I ever set foot in a UU church. My theological views had liberalized out of the orbit of Lutheranism, but I didn't want to reject religion. So UU was (due to its breadth) a useful label for what I believed even though it didn't describe what I (being still a member of a Protestant church) did. I gather from the blogs that institutionally-affiliated UUs are highly self-conscious about their inclusiveness/welcomingness/etc, which is great, but don't let it obscure the fact that there are some of us who formed out here in Enrique's metaphorical Kupier belt*. I've encountered a number of people over the years who don't have much of a religious identity on a day-to-day basis, but have settled on "UU" as an answer when someone asks them about their religion because it's a pro-religion answer without committing them to the doctrine of any particular church or sounding too new-agey (as "spiritual but not religious" would).

That said, I would like to join a congregation, but I'm not about to drive an hour to the nearest one (in Chandler, AZ) every Sunday. I imagine a significant part of the issue is that UU churches are pretty spotty over much of the country, but potential converts like myself pop up everywhere.

*Commenter Enrique had analogized the question about UUs to astronomers' debates over whether objects in the Kupier belt had formed out there or had formed closer to the sun but got flung out due to the gravity of the other planets.


Stentor Danielson, 11:35, |


Who's Out There?

Posts like this one (and its comment thread) make me wonder why anyone actually reads this blog. There are only 24 hours in the day, and the blogosphere is full of people who have accomplished actual things and made real contributions to the world (including many for whom blogging itself constitutes an actual accomplishment and real contribution to the world), and who consequently have the ability to post worthwhile things.

Granted, not very many people read this blog -- Sitemeter tells me I get 20-30 hits per day, from which I have to subtract the unsuccessful search engine hits and the people who know me from non-blogging contexts (and hence have an excuse to read me). And I doubt any of the bloggers referenced in my first paragraph are in that group. But someone is rounding out that 20-30 hits. And it's not clear why there's even that residual readership here.

Stentor Danielson, 22:40, |


Henry Waxman's Little Brother Must Work For The Arizona Republic

Proportion of the Phoenix area's population that is undocumented: about 10%.
Proportion of the Phoenix area's criminal charges that are made against undocumented people: about 10%.

This is according to the Maricopa County sheriff's department's own records, and in the face of a huge effort by Maricopa law enforcement to target criminal immigrants. Sheriff Joe naturally had no comment.

It also turns out that undocumented immigration doesn't drive down wages or the economy (with the possible exception of a small downward pressure on the very poorest citizens, which could be easily offset by taking advantage of the net economic growth associated with immigration).

So I guess we're down to "they make us have to press 1 for English" in terms of empirical claims about negative effects of immigration on non-immigrants (although I'd wager even here that there are enough citizens who prefer to do business in Spanish that your 1-pressing finger would still get a workout).


Stentor Danielson, 14:44, |


Less Litter, More Deaths

This is pretty ridiculous:

An immigrant-aid volunteer is facing a $175 fine for leaving water jugs in the desert for illegal entrants.

... Millis and three other volunteers with the Tucson-based No More Deaths organization had been placing 1-gallon plastic water jugs on a trail in the refuge, which is known to be heavily traveled by migrants who are illegally crossing into the U.S. from Mexico on foot.

Ironically, Millis said, he was also picking up trash while he worked.

So No Más Muertes is creating a net decrease in the amount of litter in the refuge. In particular, they're helping make sure the refuge isn't littered with human bodies -- which can't be good for the ecology, even if you're morally bankrupt enough not to care about the humanitarian aspect of it. The refuge management should be bankrolling NMM's activities, not fining them for it. By working with NMM, they could get volunteers to help address a significant problem that the rangers doubtless don't have a lot of time to deal with, and could even work out a way to minimize the ecological impact of the water stations. Instead, they conflate the NMM volunteers with the effects of the very broken immigration system that NMM is opposing.

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Stentor Danielson, 23:27, |