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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Happy birthday, Frederic Henry Hedge!

One of my favorite forgotten Unitarians was born on this date in 1805. Frederic Henry Hedge helped introduce German language studies to the United States, encouraged his Unitarian colleagues' interest in German romanticism (which became "Transcendentalism"), and promoted a form of liberal Christianity that embraced ecumenism and historical change. (His wing of post-Civil War Unitarianism is often referred to as "broad church" Unitarianism.)

Last year, I discovered that his key book, Reason and Religion, is available in digital form. I highly recommend adding the chapter "The Spirit in the Letter" to your reading lists; it's Hedge's answer to Emerson's negative view of institutions and doctrines.

Thanks for the birthday reminder, James!

Copyright © 2007 by Philocrites | Posted 12 December 2007 at 8:34 AM

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December 13, 2007 04:37 PM | Permalink for this comment

GoogleBooks is great for UU history. Check out _Autobiography of Seventy Years_ by George Frisbie Hoar. Hoar was the Republican Senator from Massachusetts who led the Senate opposition to the war against the Philippine insurgents. In 1902 he organized Senate hearings at which soldiers described in detail various torture methods, especially waterboarding. Hoar was also President of the National Unitarian Conference. The last chapter of his autobiography discusses the relationship between his political and religious views. It's pretty impressive.

Ron Robinson:

December 19, 2007 01:37 AM | Permalink for this comment

Great coincidence. Dec. 12th was also the date in 1944 of the first gathering of the UU Christian Fellowship (then the Unitarian CF) in Boston. Just my way of seguing into that we have a big supply of the special issue of the UU Christian Journal on Hedge with the great essay in it by George Huntston Williams on the relationship of Unitarianism to Protestantism using Hedge's work as model, along with work by Hedge also. All for only $5. Folks can order it by contacting me at It is a keeper.


December 21, 2007 02:15 PM | Permalink for this comment

Hedge's book is really interesting. Thanks for making note of it; I had never heard of him before.

FWIW, as an alternative to reading it as a PDF, a bound reproduction is available from the University of Michigan Library (you can order it through Amazon).

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