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Unitarianism in the Antebellum South, Unitarianism in the Antebellum South, 081731086X, 0-8173-1086-X, 978-0-8173-1086-8, 9780817310868,

Unitarianism in the Antebellum South
The Other Invisible Institution
by John Macaulay

Hardcover
2001. 200 pp.
978-0-8173-1086-8
Price:  $32.95 s

Macaulay challenges the prevailing belief that religion in the South
developed solely through "revivalistic emotion" and not by religious rationalism.

John Macaulay's model study of Unitarianism in the antebellum
South reestablishes the denomination's position as an influential religious
movement in the early history of the region. By looking at benevolent societies,
lay meetings, professional and civic activity, ecumenical interchange,
intellectual forums, business partnerships, literary correspondence, friendships,
and other associa-tions in which southern Unitarians were engaged with
other southerners on a daily basis, Macaulay sees a much greater Unitarian
presence than has been previously recognized. Instead of relying on a count
of church steeples to gauge numbers, this volume blurs the lines between
southern Unitarianism and orthodoxy by demonstrating how their theologies
coexisted and intertwined.

Macaulay posits that just beneath the surface of organized
religion in the South was an "invisible institution" not unlike Franklin
Frazier's Black Church, a nebulous network of liberal faith that represented
a sustained and continued strand of Enlightenment religious rationalism
alongside and within an increasingly evangelical culture. He shows that
there were in fact two invisible religious institutions in the antebellum
South, one in the slave quarters and the other in the urban landscape of
southern towns. Whereas slave preachers rediscovered in music and bodily
movement and in themes of suffering a vibrant Christian community, Unitarians
witnessed the simple spiritual truth that reason and belief are one unified
whole.

In offering this fresh argument, Macaulay has chipped
away at stereotypes of the mid-19th-century South as unreservedly "evangelical"
and contributed greatly to historians' understanding of the diversity and
complexity in southern religion.


John A. Macaulay is an independent scholar educated at Erskine
College, Duke University Divinity School, and the University of South Carolina.

 


"John Macaulay sculpts the southern face of antebellum AmericanUnitarianism with clarity, empathy, and discernment. Macaulay's almoststartling portrait resurrects one of the South's most elusive, itriguingspiritual groups even as it illustrates Unitarainism's unexpected adaptabilityin the South and the region's intriguing spiritual diverisity. This isa subtle, superbly researched, engagingly written book that rejuvenatesa fascinating chapter of pre-Civil War southern history.
—Jon Butler, Yale University

Also of Interest

Quest for a Christian America, 1800-1865
by David Edwin Harrell , Jr.


Sources of Division in the Disciples of Christ, 18
by David Edwin Harrell , Jr.


Ante-Bellum Alabama
by Weymouth T. Jordan


American Denominational History
Edited by Keith Harper