Book

No Silent Witness

Cynthia Tucker

Published in print May 2010 | ISBN: 9780195390209
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199866670 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195390209.001.0001

Series: Religion in America

No Silent Witness

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This biography follows three generations of ministers' mothers, daughters, and wives as their family—one of America's foremost Unitarian dynasties—spreads out across the continent and their liberal denomination evolves. The oldest Eliot women remember its quickening in the early 1800s, and the youngest, its formal consolidation in 1961 with the kindred Universalist Church of America. Shifting the focus from pulpits to parsonages, and from sermons to doubting pews, Tucker lifts up a long‐ignored female perspective and humanizes a famously staid and cerebral religious tradition. The narrative organizes itself as a series of stories, all shaped by defining experiences that are interrelated and timeless. These range from the deaths of young children and the anguish of infertility to the suffocation of small parish life, loneliness, doubt, and financial distress. One woman survives with the help of a rare female confidant in the parish. Another is braced by the unmet friends who read magazines that publish her poems. A third escapes from an ill‐fitting role by succumbing to neurasthenia, leaving one wasting condition for another. It is left to the matriarch's granddaughters to script larger lives for themselves by bypassing marriage and churchly employment to follow their hearts into same‐sex unions and major careers in public health and preschool education. Thematically, these stories are linked by the women's continuing battles to make themselves heard through the din of clerical wisdom that contradicts their reality.

Keywords: Unitarian history; Eliot women; nineteenth and twentieth century; parsonage life; same‐sex unions; infertility; neurasthenia; financial distress; loneliness

Book.  256 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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Table of Contents

The Unitarian Universe in No Silent Witness

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The Rush of Words in No Silent Witness

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Where Words Fail in No Silent Witness

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The Voice Coach in No Silent Witness

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Reduced to a Whisper in No Silent Witness

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A Larger Syntax in No Silent Witness

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New Rules of Engagement in No Silent Witness

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Old Work and New in No Silent Witness

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