Got an email from LinguistFriend the other day. I shall reprint it in its entirety, sans salutation and signature:
You need to post a salute to Chris on the demise of his blog, while acknowledging gratitude for his continuing contribution in a different form, as editor of UU World and gray eminence in the blogging world.
While I prefer my suggestions for blog posts to come to me phrased as questions, I had to concede that LF was correct. At the time, I wrote LF back to say that a lot of people had already written about the demise of Philocrites. But not enough people have, so here goes.
Philocrites was a great UU blog. Indeed, it was the blog that really got me started blogging. I had been posting on beliefnet for awhile and its current admin and I didn't get along, so I was primed to leave. I read Philo's blog and thought "Hey, I could do a funnier, less informed version of that." Then one day I was posting a comment to Ministrare and literally created a blog for myself by accident while trying to just create a login for myself. But reading Philocrites put me on that path.
It's funny how even with this memory, I can go back and read something of Philo's and be blown away by how thoughtful and wonderful it is, but I totally can. Philo's reflection on the transformative nature of Evangelical faith and how we don't really do that, for example.
Philo was always very direct and forthcoming with challenging ideas like "By acknowledging that there are parts of my personal religious life that take place outside of Unitarian Universalism, I'm not suggesting that Unitarian Universalist congregations and institutions can't serve or promote genuinely satisfying religious lives. I think they can. In fact, they do. But I am saying that UU congregations operate within an increasingly post-denominational world in which people bring a range of expectations and needs that a single institution may not be able to fulfill. I always found that wonderful and admirable, especially in a man who works for the UUA and might have to deal with an annoyed reader in person first thing in the morning.*
He was kind of the silverbacked monkey of UU bloggers and was treated as such by other UU bloggers for years. I have several times written him with questions like "What's the UU World's policy on...?" "Have you heard of this crazy person who is writing me..." and what to do about various issues arising in the blogosphere. His response was unfailingly polite and quick and thoughtful and reasonable.
I really don't think the UU blogosphere would be what it is without Philo's early contributions and he will be missed around here. IMHO, you can best honor the legacy of Philocrites by reading his blog, thinking about what you find there, and writing about it on a blog of your own.
*Whether I am blogging or reviewing a play, I hate dealing with people I've written about. Last summer, I found myself physically hiding from someone whose work I had very positively reviewed in the DC City Paper. Philo never really had that choice, and still he didn't pull punches.