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A couple of days ago I signed up for OnFaith, and I found the process of creating a profile to be much more interesting than I’d anticipated, asking and raising all kinds of deep questions I hadn’t expected to face on a sign-up page. When asked why I was joining OnFaith on the initial page, I. faced an immediate, apparent decision between being an “academic” and a “curious seeker.” I’m both, of course; without the latter, I wouldn’t have become the former, but I wasn’t sure how to choose just one of either “academic” or “curious seeker” as my guiding motivation. Each, after all, informs the other at some level. The profile page asked further questions: am I on the site as an individual, an academic, a clergy member, a teacher, or an “other?” Obviously I’m an individual: I speak for myself rather than a particular institution. My training is as an academic, but some days find me in the teaching role. I’m not clergy, but I’d be lying if that question hasn’t raised its complicated head more than once. Most of my post-collegiate training has been a religious studies academic, but my reasons for joining OnFaith – are in tension with what I assume “academic” to mean. In the end I used that tension to guide the profile description, saying, “I'm a writer. I use writing to process the moments of meaning and meaninglessness that touch our lives deeply.” That’s why I’m here, to read and write and communicate. The profile page pointed me to another set of conundrums: that of religious affiliation. I’m a religious liberal, a “none,” and “other.” I don’t identify as “Christian,” but I wouldn’t disavow that I have a Protestant Christian background that informs my current rather uninvolved spiritual life. I'm most often a Unitarian Universalist, and I was surprised to find that Unitarian Universalism (or “UUism” as it’s more colloquially known) wasn’t listed. If UU isn’t listed, does that make me an “Other?” A “None?” I emphasize with the Pew survey’s “Nones,” in my lack of attendance coupled with something between agnosticism and spirituality that sometimes longs for churches and sometimes wants nothing more than the grandeur of a national park. Finally, I'm also the non-Jewish spouse of a Reform Jewish man, with whom I have two young daughters. His level of involvement is about the same as mine: lighting Shabbat candles at home, sometimes attending services, showing up for the major holidays. He too is a religious studies academic, and that no doubt shapes the interfaith, but slightly more Jewish, background our daughters are receiving. Don’t get me wrong, I like the OnFaith idea, which seems like a kind of a Medium.com for people who want to talk about religion. I'm not even sure what "religion" or "category" to give this post, since it's both self-referential about the OnFaith experience, as well as about more than one religion. Maybe I'll leave them blank and see what happens. No matter what category you're in, I’m looking forward to the conversations.

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1 Douglas Boin = "Spot on. I love this observation (and I agree with the difficulty of "picking categories." I face the same challenge). Glad that you posted this!"
2 Shawn Bose = "Thanks so much for the thoughtful feedback - we have learned and are learning a lot as we continue to evolve OnFaith. We want OnFaith to be inviting and useful, and sometimes learning what to edit from a process is as valuable as adding features/options.  We will respond with changes as warranted as soon as we can!"
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