Wondering About The Ooze 2.0

Nine years ago this winter I stumbled upon a link to The Ooze on the message boards of a now-defunct postmodern magazine called Re:Generation.

By the time I found The Ooze I was seriously contemplating de-converting from Christianity. There were too many things we disagreed upon, too many questions about how things were done that floated to the surface of my mind every time my shadow fell across the doorstep of a church.

For anyone who hasn’t heard my story before, I grew up a preacher’s kid in a series of small, predominantly midwestern communities.  God was part of the fabric of our lives from my earliest memories but as I grew older I began ask some serious questions about the ways in which I was taught to practice our faith.

Over the next seven years The Ooze was a safe place to explore these questions and to re-imagine some of the ways in which I understood and thought about God. Much of what I had grown up believing was the truth sounded more and more like cultural preferences or traditions instead.

A few years ago I began to identify as Agnostic. For every one question answered several more popped up and after a time I came to suspect that the process was far more important than the act of discovering a final answer (or lack thereof.) It was not a path I had intended to follow yet it was to where my questions and concerns ultimately lead.

This changed my relationship with The Ooze. After a time it no longer seemed helpful or right to continue to so deeply associate with a Christian organization as someone who had stopped relying on the Bible or church tradition to guide my decisions. A few years ago I began to gradually detach from The Ooze’s online community.

There’s something about The Ooze and the people I grew to know and love there that continues to stick with me, though. I still consider myself to be an Oozer even as my identity as a Christian has slipped away.

Recently I learned that The Ooze is going to be relaunched early next year. I’m curiously watching and waiting to see what will come of it all. I wonder if this is the birth of a new denomination, if it will evolve into some sort of training ground for church leaders or  if, much like earlier incantations of The Ooze, it will thrive in unexpected ways and among the least likely people.

And I wonder why I still care so much. None of the other religious or spiritual groups I’ve ever known have remained lodged in my mind like this one.

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12 Responses to Wondering About The Ooze 2.0

  1. theOOZE, in it’s earlier form, was a place for us to challenge everything. It was not a place just for “christians” but a place for those digging deep into our experience. It did change, it changed into a place for “christians” to develop on the trademark “emergent church.” That is when I disconnected. It also showed me how different we were back then. I’ve realized it more and more as I’ve been around more emergent village folks. I don’t mean that as a slam to them, but oozians are very different breed than those who found something in the emergent village. I’m hoping that theOOZE 2.0 isn’t something that tries to recapture that time, I don’t think it can, but I hope that it redefines it. I’m hoping some how to play a part in it. I want for the value of pushing the limits to come back to theOOZE. That is why my heart can’t leave theOOZE or what we had back then.

    • You’ve put into words what I wasn’t able to, Jules.

      I was trying to find a way to disagree with you about not being able to bring back the boundary-pushing. No luck so far. 😉

      I’ll be keeping an eye on it over the next few months as well. It’s going to be very interesting to see how things pan out.

  2. I think we’ve touched upon this topic at some point in the not so distant past.
    I don’t (and to be honest, really can’t remember ever) self-identify as ‘Christian’, yet I find myself at (or is it ‘on’?) TheOoze daily.

    It’s the community.
    …and I suppose it’s like something I’ve always believed and thought ’bout God.
    Christians (or for that matter any religion) do not own g0d. (It owns them).
    TheOoze is not different. Christians don’t ‘own’ TheOoze. (No, not even Emergent Christians). It has a life of its own, and I contribute to an ever so tiny and small part of that life.

  3. I realize this is an older post, but the reason I “found” you online today relates exactly to this post, so I figured I’d connect with you about this. I sympathize with what MoJoJules was saying in the comment section. I discovered the Ooze around 2001. I can’t remember how, to be honest. Probably came up on a hit from some internet search. At that time I was a very zealous Christian and also a very curious one. I was constantly seeking and exploring new frontiers in my faith. Some of the posts I read back then blew my mind, and provoked me to think about various aspects of my faith in ways I didn’t know I could. I felt continually challenged to question my assumptions and think outside of the box. Over the next four years, I’m not sure what changed more, me or the Ooze. Eventually the place seemed less edgy to me – a less safe place to be unconventional. It grew, to my mind, increasingly conservative, while I grew increasingly liberal. Eventually I grew frustrated and tired of the site, and no longer felt I belonged – like I had outgrown it. It didn’t help that at the time there entered a small group of obnoxious posters that very quickly began to dominate the tone (three of them were brothers who tended to tag team their posts). Once or twice a year the Ooze comes back to my mind and I peek around (without logging in). The Ooze stays in my consciousness. Generally the articles and the conversations are of no interest to me now, and after a short time browsing around I quickly remember why I don’t involve myself with the site anymore. But the Ooze was an important part of my life journey. To be honest, it was the beginning of the end of my Christian journey, because it encouraged me to question…and after enough years of questioning I no longer felt Christianity provided sufficient answers. I sometimes throughout the years entertained the thought of logging in and writing a post detailing why I’m no longer a Christian, just so people who remembered me and were curious knew what happened to me, and perhaps to give food for thought to those who were open to listen and question as I was back in those earlier years. But I always decided against it, not wanting my last impression on the site to be misconstrued as a bitter provocateur. But I do have fond memories of discussions with posters like yourself and many others. I raise my glass to you and the Ooze.
    -George (JourneyMan)

    • We have so much in common, George (or should I call you JourneyMan? 🙂 )

      Did you know that the message boards are back now? I can give you the details if you’re interested.

      • Please, call me George. Nah, like I said, I really have no desire to be a part of the “conversation” there again. But I’m glad to reconnect with you. BTW, when did you and Drew get married? I’m trying to remember if you had already started dating by the time I jumped ship…

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