A letter to the editor:
While I appreciate the inclusion of history in Joshua Eaton’s article, “ Unitarian Universalism’s Interfaith Partners” (Fall 2016), I am taken aback once again by the reliance on male luminaries to tell the story of UU engagement with world religions. In fact, if you consider the women you discover that the “long history” goes back much further than Thoreau and Clark. Hannah Adams published her Alphabetical Compendium of the Various Sects in 1784, with a revised edition published in 1817 entitled A Dictionary of the All the Religions and Religious Denominations.You can find brief excerpts from these books in Standing Before Us (Skinner 2000, pp. 467-475). A generation later in 1855, Lydia Maria Child published her survey of world religions, Progress of Religious Ideas through Successive Ages.
More importantly, perhaps, you missed the major influence of Elizabeth Peabody and Margaret Fuller. Transcendentalist interest and awareness of world religions was made possible by Peabody’s foreign language bookstore in Boston which made texts from world religions available to people like Thoreau and Clark, both in the original languages and in translation. Peabody published the first English translation of a Buddhist text in 1844. Margaret Fuller incorporated many examples from world religions in her famous and widely-distributed Woman in the Nineteenth Century, published in 1845.
You just can’t tell the real stories without including women!
The Rev. Dr. Dorothy May Emerson