Find Unitarian Universalists where you can — fiction, say

Philocrites, in a bit of humor, asked his readers “purely for fun, folks, let’s name fictional characters” from novels, films, plays, TV shows, etc.” who are (or should be!) Unitarians, Universalists, or UUs.”


The Wayside or Community Pulpit at Peyton Place

1. Most of the residents of Peyton Place, Maine. The town — itself a bye-word for sin, grim secrets, dispair and depravity — in  New England has a Unitarian or Universalist church as its main house of worship. We get to see three Catholic churches, a Baptist church and an Episcopal church, but the one without a clear name sign gets the principle characters as parishoners.

That was about thirty-nine minutes in (if you have a copy of Peyton Place on DVD; I got Hubby one for Christmas) — we paused it because I saw something that looked really familiar.

Martin Buber? Ah, that unmistakable typeface! This (see picture) is either a Wayside Pulpit or a Community Pulpit. One was Unitarian and the other Universalist, but I forgot which was which. (They became Wayside Community Pulpits after consolidation, natch’.)

The novel was set in New Hampshire, but the film puts Peyton Place in coastal Maine. That scans Universalist to me, though if anyone can identify the church we can “reassign” the residents of Peyton Place accordingly.

The church at Peyton Place

2. Helen Benson and her son Bobby from The Day the Earth Stood Still

One of my favorite science fiction films!

These principle characters (played by Patricia Neal and Billy Gray) lived in the same boarding house as “Mr. Carpenter”: really Klaatu, the rather attractive and brainy alien played by Michael Rennie.

In an early scene, Carpenter gives his address — their address — to a prominent scientist’s housekeeper: 1412 Harvard St, N.W., here in Washington D.C. That’s a real address, and less than two blocks from All Souls Church, Unitarian. Assuming the action was contemporary to the release date, this would be 1951, when the famed A. Powell Davies was thrilling the city.

So if the Bensons weren’t Unitarians, then perhaps Klaatu might have taught Sunday school.

6 Replies to “Find Unitarian Universalists where you can — fiction, say”

  1. Turns out the 1980’s sequel of “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (called “The Day the Earth Stood Still Part II) featured a script by Ray Bradbury, who is a Unitarian Universalist. If the Bensons weren’t Unitarians in the 50’s, maybe they had converted by the 80’s.

    Klaatu borado nikto!

  2. Sorry, it’s not the Waterville church. I live 40 miles from the UU Church of Waterville and this isn’t it. This is a Federalist two-storey building, built, I would guess, between 1800 and 1820 according to Asher Benjamin’s style. Waterville is shorter, a one-storey building with a basement and a large porch in the front. The front doors are elevated quite a bit above ground level. I think what’s depicted is First Church in Belfast, which was a UCC-UUA federation until the ’80s (this may explain the Wayside Pulpit sign). Unfortunately I don’t have a photo to confirm my guess.

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