Early Connections with Howard Thurman

OnBeing, MPR, Sunday, October 18, 2020

Krista Tippet knew and admired Howard Thurman; she wanted to interview Pastor Otis Moss III and bring to our attention Thurman’s outstanding inspiration for Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement of the 50s! Pastor Otis revealed this teacher, mystic and deeply devoted writer who spoke of the ideals of America but also of how his Black people had been suffering, and what it would take to “turn the tide” in American racist behavior, thinking, legislating, opposing equality among citizens who were different, colored, “less than” the upholders of a systemic plan that always favored the white race.

So, what is Howard Thurman’s basic tenet if we, who recognize the truth of our being a racist society, want to change the way we live and work, legislate and organize the good things of the Earth?  In his book Jesus and the Disinherited, Thurman underlines how in order to change something exteriorly, we MUST know with interior conviction who we are, what is our basic reason why we live and move and have our being in this society and how we might help to make a long-lasting change in what is not right or is unjust or imbalanced among us. Thurman, according to Pastor Otis, uses the image of our inner selves being the locus of a sea, in which there is an island and on the island an altar, before which an angel with a flaming sword guards this sacred place from an immature or hasty entry by anyone who does not “go through the hoops” of long-lasting discovery and mature, deliberate work in the activity of changing our world: “ Go into the depths of  yourself. Know yourself, first, then go forth into the world to help right the wrongs that continue to haunt us.”

What was it in me that “knew” Howard Thurman? I knew very little about the man nor had I read his book, but something inside of me recognized the rightness of his theory and practice! Am I finding the sea, the island, the altar, the angel with a flaming sword? Howard Thurman lights up my soul. I so want to be part of and contribute to the Beloved Community where George Floyd can breathe, as well as Rosa Parks, Breona Taylor, the indigenous  peoples, women, Jews, Muslims, Latinos, unborn and born children, poor whites, the disinherited wherever they are can breathe again!

And it was such a delight to experience the truth of what Howard Thurman, Pastor Otis Moss and Krista Tippet were writing thinking and presenting  in my own heart!

Renée Domeier, OSB

Photo by Kelly Lacy from Pexels