Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Faith Like a River: A Program on Unitarian Universalist History for Adults

Activity 1: An Idealistic Time

Activity time: 25 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Copy Leader Resource 1, Unitarian Universalist Idealism and Leader Resource 2, World Situation and familiarize yourself with their contents.
  • Post the Time Line of UU History and mark these events:
    • Revolutions and revolts in Europe, 1848.
    • Publication of The Communist Manifesto, 1848.
    • Mexican-American War, 1846-1848.
    • Darwin publishes "On the Origin of Species," 1859.
    • American Civil War, 1860-1865.
  • Post blank newsprint.

Description of Activity

Say, in your own words:

The focus of this workshop is idealism in 19th-century Unitarianism and Universalism. The 19th century was a time of great change-technological, social, political, and cultural.

Summarize the information in Leader Resource 1, Unitarian Universalist Idealism using the time line as a reference. Invite discussion as well as any additional information participants may offer to enhance your brief summary.

Read or paraphrase the material in Leader Resource 2, World Situation. Take note of the ways idealism has been a part of both the United States story and the Unitarian Universalist story. Invite comments and observations, and engage a discussion about the parallel growth of our liberal faith and of the nation.

Then ask:

  • Who was being swept aside, exploited, or left on the margins of our national story at this time?

List historically marginalized groups on newsprint as participants name them. Suggest "low wage laborers," "enslaved Africans," "women," and "ethnic minorities/new immigrants," if participants do not.

Invite participants to bear these groups in mind during the workshop, and try to discover to what extent our 19th-century Unitarian Universalist story also marginalized them. Did idealist religious and social movements move Unitarians and Universalists closer to fully inhabiting their own theology and values?