Current reading list

I’m diving back into the roots of Universalism, so I’m reading two books.

The first is Ann Lee Bressler’s The Universalist Movement in America, 1770-1880, which I’m sick to say now sells for $85 new. (It was even remaindered for a while.)

The other is one of my treasures: the 1811 “pirate” edition of Hosea Ballou’s Treatise on Atonement. This still has his home-spun turns of phrase, largely eliminated in the standard 1835 edition (which stayed in print until 1986, and which therefor a number of living persons still have.) Because it’s rare, if I run across interesting passages, I’ll post them here.

But I’m a slow reader, so any reportage will come in fits and starts.

9 Replies to “Current reading list”

  1. I don’t think it was ever a Beacon title, but was directly published by the UUA back when they did more of that kind of thing (and before Skinner Press was organized.)
    And, with print on demand outfits out there, you can get a new copy I’m sure. So it doesn’t need to be a traditional press — unless there was a critical edition in the works. So sales would be low. Without a use, the expense would be chalked up to “see, they didn’t want it either” and that would be counterproductive.

  2. is pretty good for this sort of stuff nowadays.

    Unless I’m misunderstanding what I’m looking for, I was able to find what appears to be a 1805 edition (, a 1811 2nd edition ( and a 1812 printing — which appears to be the same as 1811 but with more modern spelling and layout (

  3. @Demas: thanks for those links. Always nice to find things that didn’t go through Google.

    The 1811 edition is the same as what I own. According to Russell Miller (The Larger Hope I:863) the 1812 edition was the second authorized edition, with copyright filings! I had thought it was a revised edition, but I gather not, nor indeed were there more than slight changes until the 1832 edition.

  4. Thanks Demas. I’ve been fiddling with these sites where you can download books for free and my dilemma is a comfortable way to read them. There is some very interesting stuff out there. Often about Universalism. I’ve stumbled on histories of Illinois counties published in the 1890s or early 1900s and there is often a story about a long gone Universalist Church and the minister who founded it. I’m interested on learning more about kindles and other tools for making these books easier to read than printing out a couple of hundred pages.

    One thing are recently departed Associate Minister did was reorganized our Church Library and make it more friendly. Also with new copies of the basics by Conrad Wright and so on… something I’ll be eternally greatful for to him.

    He did a sermon once quoting a sermon by a Universalist Minister in Wausau Wis once, and I told him afterwords I always found these History type sermons very interesting. I wanted to hear what was being preached in the past.

    He said he never knows how that kind of sermon goes over. Some people appreciate that perspective; and it leaves others cold.

    Anyways, thanks for the links.

  5. The UUA edition of “A Treatise on Atonement” was published in 1986 (no idea if it it had more than one printing) from the 1882 edition. It was a “Skinner House” book – but you have to look at the small print to know that.

    I joined Richard Trudeau in a panel talking about Bressler’s book at the last Universalist Convocation. We both liked it a lot. my copy is misfiled now, but i do want to mention that I ended my part of the discussion by quoting her last paragraph in the acknowledgments.

  6. Thanks for this clarification on Ballou’s editions. Maybe I would find the first one is easier to read than was the later one. Incidentally, up here in northern Vermont, one or two scholars have noticed the remarkable similiarity of the *Treatise* to Ethan Allen’s *Reason: The Only Oracle of Man.* I nearly fell over when I looked into Allen — it’s like reading Ballou all over again. In any case, there’s lots of research up here about the cultural unity of original Universalism and individual freedom. Best one-stop, aside from Marini, is Michael Bellisiles’ *Revolutionary Outlaws.*

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