19th Century Unitarians and Nature

At the forefront of 19th century American liberal Christian efforts to use all of humankind’s faculties to interpret “the Divine Book of Nature” were many Unitarian ministers. This course will illuminate key aspects of Unitarian theologies in the mid-nineteenth century as they depicted the relationship among God, nature, and humankind, with close attention to the American Transcendentalists. Participants will explore the complexities of the Transcendentalists’ positions commonly seen as polarized between advancing self-cultivation and focusing on efforts for the common good. Participants will inquire how the Transcendentalists’ theological heirs translated their nature-loving theology into acts of love on behalf of actual nature and will analyze the resources inherent in this theological heritage, assessing its adequacy in light of current ecological crises. Online course using varied modalities. Weekly reading and assignments, final paper, and regular online participation required.
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