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By Dan McKanan

Among 1820 and 1860, American social reformers invited everyone to spot God's picture within the sufferers of warfare, slavery, and dependancy. deciding on similar to God lines the topic of identification--and its liberal Christian roots--through the literature of social reform, concentrating on sentimental novels, temperance stories, and slave narratives, and invitations modern activists to restore the "politics of identification."

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Extra info for Identifying the Image of God: Radical Christians and Nonviolent Power in the Antebellum United States (Religion in America)

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In describing Puritan treatment of the Quakers, they repeatedly deployed the sentimental tactic of placing the victims of violence in their familial context. Thus, Whittier depicted a woman still holding her newborn as she is stripped for a lashing, and Lee described a Quaker woman being dragged through the streets as her Puritan husband follows, desperately trying to block the sheriff’s whip. 48 The liberal novelists expected little dissent from their readers when they condemned witch-hunts and the execution of Quakers, for such activities had long been discredited in the larger society.

Son of the noted biblical scholar and Harvard professor, was committed to shifting the Unitarian center of gravity from theory to practice and from the minister’s study to the kitchen and parlor. As holder of a new chair in “pulpit eloquence and pastoral care” at Harvard Divinity School, he integrated practical concerns into the ministerial curriculum, and as editor of a series of novels entitled Scenes and Characters Illustrating Christian Truth, he provided institutional support for several writers committed to the liberal gospel.

66 This argument echoed the Puritan concern not to set certain times or places apart as especially sacred; as in so many ways, the liberals based their critique of orthodoxy on fundamental Puritan values. Liberals could draw especially direct links between God’s power and earthly existence because they denied the doctrine of original sin, which had historically marked the boundary between heaven and earth. While liberals and orthodox agreed in seeing divine Providence as the most overarching context of human existence, the orthodox held that original sin and the other consequences of the Fall provided the next most encompassing context, while the family (and other social institutions) was a local, fragile manifestation of order amid the chaos of sin.

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