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But it seems to me that one important spirit has abided: That belief is important, to each of us individually, and to our life as a particular denomination, a particular household of faith.
Its implications can be far reaching.
It means that we trust one another to make our own religious decisions: It means that in educating our young, the important thing is not to raise good little Unitarian Universalists, but to raise decent and ethical and questioning and reverent young men and young women.
This is the spirit in which I wanted to introduce you this morning to Orestes Augustus Brownson. Brownson was, at various times in his life, a Congregationalist, a Presbyterian, a Deist, an atheist, a Universalist, a Unitarian, a Transcendentalist, an independent Christian minister, and a Roman Catholic.
He also held various positions within each of these positions, as well. In addition to being a minister, he was also a farm hand, a printer, a school teacher, a journalist, an essayist and critic, a political organizer, a labor leader, and a nationally-read commentator on politics, religion, society, and literature.
He would probably also have reviewed movies, had there been movies back then. He was an associate though not always friend of the famous and influential of his day; he may have cost one President re-election; and he consulted with Abraham Lincoln at the White House during the height of the Civil War.
And today, he is almost entirely forgotten. His father, Sylvester Brownson and his wife Relief Metcalf, had three older children, so when Sylvester died in just two years later, Relief, just 28 years old, was left as a destitute widow with five youngsters.
Orestes lived with his mother and his birth family until he was six, but was then sent to live with an older couple in nearby Royalton. Interestingly, their names were never recorded.
They taught their young charge, as Brownson himself recorded later, "to be honest, to owe no one any thing but good will, to be frugal and industrious, to speak the truth, never to tell a lie under any circumstances, or to take what was not my own, even to the value of a pin; to keep the Sabbath, and never to let the sun go down on my wrath.
It was a lonely and austere childhood. Being brought up with old people, solely among adults, Orestes developed the manners and tastes of an old man while still a boy. The house in which he grew up boasted only a Bible and a few other volumes.
But soon, young Orestes was walking miles a day, scouring the area in search of other books that neighbors might have. In one house, he would find the works of Homer. As an old man, he would write: I felt neither hunger or thirst, and no want of sleep; my book was my meat and drink, home and raiment, friend and guardian, father and mother.
At the fashionable resort of Ballston Spa, he had his first contact with the class stratification of American society, something he had not experienced on the egalitarian frontier of Vermont.
Gradually, there grew up in him ideas that American democracy was most threatened by privileged "nonproducers" living off the labor of the working class.
Religiously, he was growing more radical as well. At the urging of his aunt, one of the leaders of the small Universalist society in Ballston, Brownson read some basic Universalist literature, but was unimpressed. The Universalists, to him, were little more than heathen unbelievers in the disguise of religious clothing.Channing was disturbed by Brownson’s essay “The Laboring Classes” and told Elizabeth Palmer Peabody that Brownson had exaggerated the hardships of working class people.
They were better off than lawyers and merchants, Channing said, because they did not aspire as high and therefore would be less liable to disappointment when they failed. Mar 10, · Shortly thereafter, Orestes Augustus Brownson As noted in our Heritage Foundation “First Principles” essay, today a fresh reading of Brownson’s masterwork can give Americans a deeper understanding of their precious civic birthright, and the laboring classes any day are as trustworthy as the business classes.
The wise. Orestes Brownson, in his Boston Quarterly Review articles on the “Laboring Classes” (), advocated abolition of inherited private property. We will write a custom sample essay on Transcendentalism: Principal Expression of Romanticism in America specifically for you. for only $ $/page.
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Jun 11, · Orestes Brownson-- The One Who Got Away (Sunday, June 3, ) In his incendiary essay The Laboring Classes, By the end of the year, Orestes Brownson, along with his wife and their eight children, converted to Catholicism.
In his new household of faith, true to form, he became an aggressive Catholic apologist, so.