Synopses & Reviews
Orestes Augustus Brownson (1803-1876) was a philosopher, essayist, and minister whose broad-ranging ideas both reflected and influenced the social and religious mores of his day. This superb biography by Patrick Carey provides a thorough, incisive account of Brownson's shifting intellectual and religious life within the context of American cultural history.Based on a close reading of Brownson's diary notebooks, letters, essays, and books, this biography chronicles the course of Brownson's eventful life, particularly his restless search for a balance between freedom and communion in his relations with God, nature, and the human community. Yet Carey's work is more than an excellent account of one man's development; it also portrays the face of an important period in American religious history. What is more, 200 years after Brownson's birth, America is marked by the same pressing social and religious issues that he himself addressed: religious pluralism, changing religious identifications, culture wars, military conflicts, and challenges to national peace and security. Carey's book shows how Brownson's values and ideas transcend his own time period and resonate helpfully with our own.
Orestes A. Brownson was a vigorous American religious intellectual whose many different conversions and transformations reflected something of the religious and intellectual options in nineteenth century American society and something of the cultural and social forces that formed his own unique personality. In succession he was a Presbyterian, a Universalist, a religious skeptic and social reformer, a Unitarian, a Transcendentalist, and a Catholic. His religious biography, almost equally divided between his experiences in Protestantism and Catholicism, offers the reader an entree into the American theological and philosophical battles of the times -- battles that resonant with those in twenty-first century American society. He addressed the social, political, philosophical, religious and theological issues of his times with Christian principles that simultaneously transcended and were conditioned by the culture in which he lived.