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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

New book on Joseph Priestley focus of UUHS event.

Joseph Priestley and English Unitarianism in AmericaI am very sorry not yet to have announced the annual spring lecture of the Unitarian Universalist Historical Society, which is to be held this Friday at First Parish in Cambridge at 7:30. J.D. Bowers, author of the new book Joseph Priestley and English Unitarianism in America (which I look forward to reading — someday! — and which first came to my attention through a comment left on this site by avid historian Elz), is presenting a lecture, "From Consensus to Conflict to Contact: A Reappraisal of the Early History of American Unitarianism." Unfortunately for my edification in trans-Atlantic Unitarianism, I'll be at a performance of Bach's Goldberg Variations that night.

Copyright © 2008 by Philocrites | Posted 8 April 2008 at 10:28 PM

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April 9, 2008 05:03 AM | Permalink for this comment

I am very happy about the publication of this book and hope to read it soon (when there is a paperback edition available, or when second-hand copies are cheaper, for example). I have always felt that there was too much emphasis on the importance of the Puritan legacy and that the non-Puritans, such as Priestley, were rather neglected in most UU history books. I wonder what the reason may be (perhaps because Priestley was not born in America?), but this book fills a much needed gap in our study of denominational history.

Jeremiah Bartlett:

April 11, 2008 07:22 PM | Permalink for this comment

This is a GREAT book!!! It has given me so much clarity on our origins, the whitewashing of Priestly by Channing and others at the founding of the AUA, and what Priestly's real ideals and thoughts were on Unitarianism. I wish I could be there!

Rev Elz:

April 16, 2008 02:34 PM | Permalink for this comment

The lecture was great, the book was great -- and the paperback is coming soon!

My favorite part of all this is that I took the invitation to explore Priestley as a person, and he turns out to have been a really nice guy! He lived in right relations, was fun in the evenings, uxorious... HIs learning style was collegial, his main contribution in his lifetime was as an educator.

In short, he turns out to have been exactly what we could wish of more of our UU saints!

As to J.D. Bowers, he is a treasure, too! He's a practicing Roman Catholic, and he was open and reflective about how having some of his students killed, in a classroom where he himself was used to teaching (yes, he's at THAT Northern Illinois) activated a keener awareness of tension between the religion he studies and the one he chooses for himself. Certainly, those of us who cherish the ecumenical/interfaith vision of Unitarian Universalism can count him as a treasure, regardless of his seating on Sunday morning.

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