SKEPTIMERGENT February 4, 2013

Welcome to the beginning of a collaboration between various people called “SKEPTIMERGENT.”  This dialogue began as a chat between myself, Rob Davis (who coined the title), Jeff Straka, Doug Pagitt, Victoria Peterson-Hilleque, and Chris Hill, and ended up as a Patheos blog.  I have long been interested in building bridges between those in the unbelieving community (atheists, agnostics, humanists, skeptics, naturalists, etc.) and liberal religious persons, and as such, I jumped at the chance to be involved in a conversation with those in the “Emergent” milieu and those at the Emergent Village blog.

I recently was hosted on the Doug Pagitt radio show a couple of times (see here and here), and the discussions I had with Doug and Victoria aided in my desire to participate in this project.  I found both of them (along with Brian McLaren who I met a couple months back) to be welcoming and cordial to their new “token atheist.”  I have also been influenced by seeing my advisor, Philip Clayton, involved in conversations surrounding the “Emergent Church” and the ways in which contemporary forms of Christianity relate to the broader cultural shifts taking place in the West.

So without further ado, here are some of the “purposes” of SKEPTIMERGENT that Rob and I came up with:


  • Is a collaborative blog that focuses on the relationships between atheism/skepticism/agnosticism/humanism and the “emergent conversation.”
  • Exists to encourage critical, open dialogue between the religious and the non-religious.
  • Is a small part of a much larger conversation happening in homes, coffee shops, bars, at conferences, and via social media.
  • Is about exploring the new ways in which unbelievers and progressive religious persons orient themselves.
  • Is ultimately about building friendships and deepening dialogue amongst a diverse group of people.
  • Seeks to better the world by enlivening and re-enchanting discourse between unbelievers and religious persons.

Are you all ready to help us build a robust dialogue between those in the “Emergent Movement” and those in the unbelieving community?

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  • Just to clarify, will this be a conversation here on the EV blog or a separate feed?

  • Kile Jones

    It will be on the EV blog. Best.

  • McKenzie H

    Curious – does what does “liberal religious persons” mean? That could include anyone from someone who believes every word of the Bible to be true to a cultural Christian who has very little knowledge of what it actually teaches…. Is there an ideal contributor?

    • IMO, liberal Christianity is passe as the modern era it sprang from, but I do hope that some voices from progressive Christianity engage in this/these conversation(s).

  • Jeff Straka

    I’m quite excited to be a part of this community and conversation! I’m actually doing this on a localized level. I’m a co-leader of an Emergent Cohort in Marietta, GA that meets in a funky Irish Pub and will be celebrating its fourth anniversary next week. We are a close-knit group, but we quickly embrace/absorb new people through shared story-telling. As an organic part of my own journey, I “came out” as a post-theist to our community in December: I no longer can believe in the supernatural, interactive God. I likely will tell my story in a future blog post, but my point for now is that my community did not miss a single beat when I made my “announcement”. This was no shock to me, though, because we already have had a couple of other atheist/agnostic members for a while (as well as some progressive Muslims and Jews) and we ALL enjoy the perspective they shared with us. My point is that belief or degree of belief or LACK of belief in a deity changes NOTHING in terms of what we ALL desire as humans – safe community and conversation about life’s questions, struggles and joys. This cohort IS this place for me (“church”, if you will), and as the lines on the survey for “churched” and “nones” slide closer together, I firmly believe more of these “Skeptimergent” communities will be needed.

  • I’ll be interested to see how this unfolds and thank you for offering opportunities for dialogue. I would like to be one of those progressive/liberal folk in respectful conversation with atheists and agnostics, and hope this can be a place to do that. I have found, in the limited opportunities that I’ve had to engage in such conversations, that I become alienated by the somewhat academic/intellectual language that so many people (both believers and non) bring to the conversation, whereas I tend to talk about faith in an extremely “applied” way, using stories and examples from people’s real lives and such. Imagine, for example, a conversation about marriage and whether it is a valuable institution, in which one person is focused on sociological data and statistics and the other is focused on her experience of a long, rich, satisfying marital relationship. How would such a conversation ever result in greater understanding, when the two people are coming at the topic from completely different perspectives, both of which have something to say about the value of marriage? That’s how it often feels when I engage in or observe conversations between those who believe and those who do not–that we’re approaching this complex, deep-seated phenomenon with completely different sets of tools and from completely different perspectives, making it hard to find common ground and speak to each other in language the other will receive and understand. I hope your new initiative can be a place where some of those disconnects can be patched over.

  • Tia

    This is a wonderful project and I look forward to reading more about it!

    I wonder what you mean by “re-enchanting discourse”? A reference to Weber? Although I’m not sure how his notion of enchantment applies to discourse. What is dis-/re-/ enchanted discourse?

  • Holly Roach

    Thank you for curating this space. I am eager to keep up with my progressive post christian friends.

  • Definitely looking forward to participating!

  • Sounds great. Hope it takes off. This kind of dialogue is a pretty regular feature of life in a university community – at least if you want it to be rather than hiding from it.

  • Erica Billings

    This is great! Really looking forward to this! Thank you!

  • Very cool! I look forward to listening and interacting here!