Unitarian Universalism's Heritage of Religious Education
The words of the Rev. William Ellery Channing, written more than 150 years ago, resonate for this session's approach to and respect for the developing faith identities of young Unitarian Universalists:
The great end in religious instruction is not to stamp our minds upon the young, but to stir up their own; not to make them see with our eyes, but to look inquiringly and steadily with their own; not to give them a definite amount of knowledge, but to inspire a fervent love of truth; not to form an outward regularity, but to touch inward springs; not to bind them by ineradicable prejudices to our particular sect or peculiar notions, but to prepare them for impartial, conscientious judging of whatever subjects may be offered to their decision; not to burden the memory, but to quicken and strengthen the power of thought; not to impose religion upon them in the form of arbitrary rules, but to awaken the conscience, the moral discernment. In a word, the great end in religious instruction is to awaken the soul, to excite and cherish spiritual life.
Find a very readable, comprehensive undergraduate paper about Dorothea Dix by Jenn Bumb on the website of Webster University, St. Louis, Missouri. Voice for the Mad: The Life of Dorothea Dix by David Gollaher (1995) received kudos from Amazon online reviewers for its attention to Dix's political effectiveness and her "essential sadness (which)... made her self-aware yet remote from other people." The Dictionary of Unitarian Universalist Biography delves into Dix's relationship with Unitarianism and the William Ellery Channing family in its article on her life, by Wayne Viney. The web page Dorothea Dix: Unitarian Reform on the Teach U.S. History website talks about her life and work in the context of the Second Great Awakening.