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A Tender, Unitarian Christmas

A Tender, Unitarian Christmas
And it was on this basis that the Unitarians transformed\r\nChristmas into something that both hberals and evangehcals\r\ncould enjoy—a clear departure from the Puritan past. By 1842,\r\na new interpretaHon of the holiday was already in place:\r\nI have always thought of Christmas hme, when it has\r\ncome round—apart from the veneration due to its sacred\r\nname and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart\r\nfrom that—as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable,\r\npleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar\r\nof the year, when men and women seem by one consent\r\nto open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of\r\npeople below them as if they really were fellow-passengers\r\nto the grave, and not anotlier race of creahires bound\r\non other journeys. And therefore, uncle, tliough it has\r\nnever put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe\r\nthat it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say,\r\nGod bless it!\r\nBy the time that Charles Dickens, a Unitarian, put these words\r\ninto the mouth of the nephew of Ebeneezer Scrooge, they rang\r\ntnie in the minds of his readers. It is "salvation by character" —\r\none of James Freeman Clarke's "Five Points of Unitarianism\r\npenned"—that both saves Scrooge and transfomis Christmas.\r\nUnitarians of Clarke's ilk taught that man needs religion to\r\ninspire faith in "things unseen and eternal, to give him the hope\r\nof continued existence." The new architects of Christinas borrowed\r\nimages...

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