In the Spotlight: Meet Dylan Zwick

08 June 2017

You can ask most Unitarians "In which church did you grow up?" and get a response, if not a story. We can be kind of a refugee religion.  So, I'm something of a rarity in that I'm not just a third generation Unitarian, but a third generation member of our congregation.  My grandparents, Martin and Muriel Zwick, were members of our church long before I was born, and my first memories of our church were of attending Halloween parties with my grandparents.  My (long divorced) parents, Patrick Zwick and Becky Heal, are both active members.  My mom's a very active member.

I grew up in Salt Lake City, but I wasn't a particularly active or enthusiastic member of our church when I was young.  RE never clicked for me, which is interesting because it definitely did for my brother, Baxter.  When he was a teenager, RE was a big part of his life.  But, I didn't really become an active member until I came back to Salt Lake City after going to college in California.  I wanted a "home base" for being involved with my community, and a place where I felt like I could try to do something about causes and issues that I'd mostly only thought about before.  I signed the book in, I think, 2006, and have been an active and enthusiastic member for the last decade.  During that time I earned a Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Utah, and currently I'm the Director of Data Science at, although that's about to change very soon.  Outside of work, I love to learn and read about pretty much anything.  I think I'll always be an academic at heart.  I also like to run, ski, and play the violin.  I love theater and music and the arts.  I probably spend more time that I should reading the news.

Favorite quote?  How about "Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit." - Oscar Wilde. When I was a teenager I read "Unweaving the Rainbow" by Richard Dawkins, and there's a passage that has stuck with me all my life:  “We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born.  The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia.  Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton.  We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people.  In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.  We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?”  That encapsulates a lot of my view of life. If you don't pay attention, you might not realize how amazingly lucky you are just to be here, and what a short time you have to enjoy it.  I try to remember this, even if I don't always live it.

Our church is a home base for me.  It's a place where I can learn, be a part of my community, make friends, see family, and give something back.  I'm on the Leadership committee and the Caring committee, I make coffee and I usher, but probably the committee in which I've been the most involved over the years is the Pledge committee.  And, yes, of course I pledge.  I pledge not just because there's a limit to my hypocrisy, but because I think it's one of the most important things I do.  Thinking about what I can do to help our church is actually a big inspiration for me at my job.  I try to give as generously as I can, and I hope to give more in the years to come.