UUs in science fiction: a reference page

Unitarian Universalists have a funny relationship with popular culture. How else can there be so much appreciation for needling slights and taunts from The Simpsons and Prairie Home Companion?

Well, if you’d like a little science fiction — and I know I’m not the only one waiting for the Doctor Who season finale next Friday — you might like this reference list from the underappreciated Adherents.com website.

Unitarian Universalists in Science Fiction

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. James, if you’re not aware of this already, you’ll probably be interested to learn that Lovecraft was a member of the Men’s Club of the First Universalist Church of Providence. This was before he’d written anything that could be explictly recognized as science fiction–like In the Walls of Eryx or Cool Air–however. As for authors, Ray Bardbury is a UU. I didn’t know until encountering this page–http://www.adherents.com/adh_sf.html–that Frederick Pohl is also and Olaf Stapledon was too. Kurt Vonnegut is often cited as a UU but I don’t think he officially affiliates.

  2. Jeff: Is this Lovecraft an Universalist based on recent findings or just the poem? When I heard about the poem (on the UUHS list last year) I asked the Lovecraft folks (although I don’t know the big ones like Joshi) say that those years are mainly unknown years to Lovecraft experts. Has someone researched the church records then?

  3. Someone eventually told me (not on UUHS, though I followed the conversation there) that Lovecraft joined the Men’s Club at the urging of his mother, who wanted the reclusive young man to be more social. He seems to have been an actual attendee of the Club, not simply a hired scribe/writer. This doesn’t necessarily make him a member of the church itself, however. I don’t say he was a Universalist (maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t at this time period), only that he was part of a Universalist organization.

  4. I would have to say that Vonnegut sounds like about half the Unitarian/Universalists I know….

    Kurt Vonnegut was raised in the Indianapolis UU church (which his father apparently designed*) and describes himself variously as a UU, a Humanist**, a “Christ-worshipping agnostic”, and has said that his family has been “”skeptical of organized religion” for at least four generations”. His son, Mark, planned to become a Unitarian Minister.

    “I am an atheist (or at best a Unitarian who winds up in church quite a lot). [Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Fates Worse than Death: An Auotbiographical Collage of the 1980s]”.

    He has served as the honorary president of the American Humanist Association.

    * “So Father said he was a Unitarian. That was OK. He and his father designed the Unitarian Church out there in Indianapolis. You had to be something.”
    ** “What the freethinkers were are now called humanists. I am one. A humanist believes, because of Darwin, whose truths were so shocking, in making the most use of good science as possible. Humanists behave well without any expectation of either reward or punishment in an afterlife. We serve, as best we can, our community. When I was growing up, nobody ever said anything about Heaven, about an afterlife. They said that this life was enough.” http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/studsterkel/vonnegut.shtml

    Yep…. sounds Unitarian!

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