Tell me whooooooo are you

My views are simple. Political: Sober. Religious: Well ... actually that's not so simple. My Facebook profile suggests as much. There I say that I'm a "God-fearing Christian with devilishly good Jewish looks." Unique as that exact wording may seem, use of such an unorthodox description to categorize religious beliefs is really not that uncommon on Facebook.

That isn't really news.

Two years ago, The Jewish Journal's summer intern wrote about a gal who defined herself as an "impassioned Jew" and the paper itself listed it's views as "pretty Jewish." (That's pictured, and if you don't know why iti s funny, click here.) GetReligion's very own Sarah Pulliam Bailey gave this "religious self-profiling" some more depth during her day job at Christianity Today.

Now I guess it was The New York Times' turn with "Facebook Bios: Truth or Fiction?"

Arguably the most tantalizing bits of self-description are the spaces provided for political and religious views. Plain vanilla Democrats and Republicans defer to the irreverent (pinko liberal commie bastard) or proselytizing (environmental jingoist) or in-your-face (left of you). ...

Religion is widely interpreted as a blank canvas of self-expression: Some are poetic (yoga, oceans, cathedrals), some cryptic (overhead, wide), some creative (Nikki’s yoga class is a religious experience), some guilty (have turned into a C & E Catholic; shame on me), some prosaic (private), some sweet (atheist except for kittens), some trying hard to delineate or differentiate themselves (atheist but O.K. with religious holidays).

Every mainstream religion seems to have offshoots and subsidiaries unrecognized by any priest, pastor, rabbi or imam: Judaism is represented by Amish Jew, Jewish pagan, pantheistic with a Jewish twist on the rocks, and Jew-ish (which must be different from Jewish, perhaps more along the lines of Jew-esque).

I not only know "Jew-ish" -- I thought I had coined the term. Oh well.

The stories here are spot on. I have Jewish friends who list their views as Conservadox -- that's a blending of Orthodox and Conservative Judaism. Other friends "heart jesus!" or feel that "it's all good." Then there are the traditionalists: "Christian -- Protestant," "Muslim," "agnostic." And few who decline to state anything.

The NYT story quickly moves on to what motivates this culture of self-description, as well it should. But a subject I'd like to see explored is whether such introspective profiling is giving rise or merely reflecting a changing panoply of religious beliefs.

On Facebook, most everyone seems to be a pick-your-preference religious person. But I wonder if such unique characterizations really represent any sort of a change in religious beliefs or social circles, or whether outfits like Facebook have really just provided folks with a much-needed outlet to demonstrate what makes them a different, even if in name only, than their co-religionists.

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