A Strange Freedom: The Best of Howard Thurman on Religious Experience and Public Life

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9780807010563: A Strange Freedom: The Best of Howard Thurman on Religious Experience and Public Life

A collection of writings covering such topics as Thurman's trip to India in 1936 and the deaths of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Whitney Young

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Review:

Howard Thurman is hard to lionize because he's hard to categorize. He was a minister to Martin Luther King Jr. and an academic at Boston University, and he has been posthumously interpreted as a mystic, a political visionary, and a model of parish ministry. "Human life is one and all men are members of one another," Thurman wrote. "And this insight is spiritual and it is the hard core of religious experience." Such statements make him as useful to black Baptists as he is to white Unitarians, which probably explains why his writings have not been packaged by the niche-marketing-obsessed publishing industry as well as they should have been--until now. A Strange Freedom: The Best of Howard Thurman on Religious Experience and Public Life, an anthology edited by Walter Earl Fluker and Catherine Tumber, collects Thurman's meditations on everything from the universal vocational dilemma (in an essay called "What Shall I Do with My Life?") to his specific observations on the legacy of Dr. King (in a radio obituary delivered on the evening of King's assassination). Among the most striking and original aspects of Thurman's faith is his insistence on the political significance of Christian mystical experience. In essays such as "The Fellowship Church of All Peoples," he shows how a mystical experience of human unity can strengthen an individual's moral imagination in a way that has precise political consequences. In a world where public life often dismisses religion as personal affective disorder, Thurman's writings may fuel a purging and productive fire in the bones. --Michael Joseph Gross

About the Author:

Walter Earl Fluker is professor of philosophy and religion and executive director of the Leadership Center at Morehouse College and founder of VisionQuest Association, Inc. Catherine Tumber is a fellow of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African-American Research at Harvard University, and has taught history at the University of Rochester, St. Lawrence University, and Syracuse University.

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