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User:Aarchiba/The Great Encyclopedia Showdown/Unitarianism

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Comparing the two articles:

For some context, I have an uncle who's a Unitarian minister; I wanted to know what that says about him, and what the church is. I also have several friends who have started attending some sort of local Unitarian church; what kind of church is it?

Unitarianism and Universalism in the E. B.


The introductory paragraph is oddly written and not very informative. The article as a whole begins with many pages of history, and finishes with two pages, Teachings and Worship and organization. The article contains a great deal of history, full of specific names. By and large, not much of it is very meaningful to me, since I don't know much about religious history; most of it happened in Transylvania (I don't even know where that is, and there are no links). Most of the people have links to their names.

There is not much information about the current status and nature of the church; it is not at all clear what the church's position (to the extent that it has one) is on issues like same-sex marriage. The article never makes it very clear what the relationship is between Unitarianism and Universalism are.

The writing is dry (but it is an encyclopedia, after all) but there were no actual errors of grammar or spelling. There are no pictures or illustrations (and it's not clear what sort there could be). The end section contains no links, but many references to books; generally these references include author, title, date, and a few words of explanation. The format is very unpleasant to read.

Unitarianism and Universalism in Wikipedia


It has a nice introduction; it tells me something of what the faith is, and names a few prominent believers (Isaac Newton!) It also suggests that maybe I should be reading Unitarian Universalism instead.

Socinianism appears out of nowhere; the names listed in the various sections appear to be different, but as I don't know (nor much care) who any of these people were, I haven't checked. It describes the history in many more countries.

The general flavor of the text is not quite as dry, but it is more disjointed. The text is certainly divided into more sections, but I am left with the feeling that the sections have been written mostly independently.

There are no pictures here either. A few minor problems: there was an unterminated piece of italics, John Locke wasn't linked, and there were a few typos. It's based on the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica. Its references section is mostly to books, all from before 1911. It has a long list of "see also"s.

Good intro; tells me something about the church as it is now, its attitudes and origins. Makes the article look interesting. Picture of symbol (of dubious copyright status).

The article as a whole is well-written, with a few minor quirks (spelling or formatting errors) but generally very clear. It contains a nice capsule summary of the history of Unitarianism, as well as a pretty good picture of what the church actually teaches.

The writing style is generally open and friendly, without the feeling of disjointedness noted above.

There are numerous links to other articles, many on what are essentially subtopics of this one, which I did not pursue, as well as many links to good online resources (the church's official website, a famous sermon, and so on). There are no book references. Correction: there is (at least) one, stowed at the bottom of the "Politics" section.



The Wikipedia article on Unitarianism proper is a little disjointed and contains somewhat less history than the Britannica article. However, the Wikipedia article is specific to Unitarianism, while the Britannica tries to cover Universalism as well. In reading the Wikipedia article, but not the Britannica one, I found that I was more interested in Unitarian Universalism. Upon returning to the Britannica and searching for this, I found a brief article on the Unitarian Universalist Association, not very informative.

The Wikipedia article on Unitarian Universalism gave me the answers I was looking for; it also gave me enough context for a better understanding of the Unitarianism article. It had no useful counterpart in the Britannica (that I could find).