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.