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Sermon - The Trouble with Heroes

On Sunday 23 January 2011, Joyce Hackett, Writer-in-Residence 2010/11, will hold a sermon at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Netherlands about her novel-in-progress Reconstruction, called The Trouble with Heroes.

Her novel in progress, Reconstruction, is set amidst the contest over the 15th Amendment, which after the Civil War defined who would get the vote in America. It is the moment at which the abolitionist community decides not to push for universal (i.e. women’s) suffrage. Through real and imagined episodes in the lives of Fredrick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, and Douglass’ longtime mistress, Ottilie Assing, a German-Jewish emigree journalist, Reconstruction explores the ways these activists edit and rewrite their lives to sculpt their historical personas, and the cost of such reconstructions of self.

Unitarian Universalism is the only uniquely American established religion; based on liberal Christian and Jewish traditions, it adheres to no creed. Many major figures in both suffrage and abolition – Douglass, Garrison, Anthony, Lucy Stone, as well as writers like Emerson, Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, and Melville – was either a Unitarian or a Universalist (they merged in 1961, to become the UUs.)

A choir from NIAS will sing a couple of period reform hymns of the period. The service is open to the public, and may be of interest to those with an interest in historical literature, or American history.