About this Course
"There is an order, a moral order in which men men participate, that gathers up into itself, dimensional fulfillment, limitless in its creativity and design. Whatever may be the pressures to which one is subjected.... one must not for a moment think that there is not an ultimate value always at stake." - Howard Thurman in, The Negro Spiritual Speaks of Life and Death, p 134-135
There are so many amazing Howard Thurman quotes. One can spend a life time reading and re-reading this spiritual maestro.
Join us into a journey to encounter the life, the times, and the work of Howard Thurman. Designed as an introductory but substantial course, this is a way of getting closer to one of the greatest Christian theologians born on American soil.
We meet for 5 sessions over approximately 10 weeks, for a (roughly) every-other-week-basis. This hopefully gives us the needed silence and pauses in between meeting to not only read and listen to the material, but to let it grow in us. For this is not a purely intellectual course. To learn from Thurman is to make an attempt to seek what he sought: a deeper connection with Spirit; the manifestation of a better world. Please note the dates below. Sessions will be recorded if requested and they can be missed, but advanced notice is appreciated.
As with all of the courses I offer, my primary interest in teaching the past is to support the present and the future. I do this through supporting you. Your life matters in this course. How much you choose to talk about your professional or personal work is completely up to you, but it is my intention that this class will make a difference in your life and what you are up to, be that in your family or in your work or in your faith community - or all of them!
Thus, in this course, you receive: guidance and structure to engage with one of the greatest mystics-activists of the last century; a community of fellow learners to support you; accountability in your learning process; the opportunity to put your own life and your work into the course through creative integration projects. Every student receives one 1-1 session with the instructor to discuss how the material is interacting with your life and what would be helpful individualized creative integration projects for you.
Note: This is a spiritual development course. While no one will be asked to share beyond their comfort level, mutual support, respect and care for one another's diverse religious traditions is expected. It is possible that some of the language will be a challenge: we will do our best to help one another translate difficult (or particularly Christian) concepts for the students' maximum ability to engage this material with their life.
Please note this is a TENTATIVE outline. I am currently reaching out to: Dr. Gary Dorrien, Dr Sarah Azaransky and 1-2 people from the Howard Thurman Center to help guide us in our engagement with Thurman in the form of interviews speckled throughout the course. Already, an expert on Ghandi (especially Gandhi today) has agreed to do an interview on Gandhi's thought.
Required reading: Jesus and the Disinherited. I strongly recommend buying this short and inexpensive book.
Strongly recommend aquiring (library is fine) either " Visions of a better world" or Smith, L.E. Howard Thurman: The Mystic as Prophet. Richmond, IN: Friends United Press
Currently, we are planning the course for Wednesday afternoons from 3-4:30pm., starting Wednesday Oct 18.
Oct 18: Session 1: Overview of life and times of HT
HW: select readings from part I (early life), "Visions of a Better World - howard thurman goes to India"; video of him describing his life.
Some of his early sermons (audio), especially on what does it mean to be a Christian and live well and what is the meaning of our lives.
Select readings, interviews, sermons with a focus on the personal encounter with God and mysticism
Discuss your possible creative integration projects as a form of learning.
For Thurman, the personal encounter with God - the core of the religious experience - was paramount. Everything else is secondary. We thus ground ourselves in this for ourselves.
Nov 1. Session 2. Early life, network, and main themes (especially mysticism/social activism and the religious experience/community) (Please note: Instructor will be in Germany. This should have no impact the course).
Discussion of material. Moving into the second part of his life and the network he was a part of.
HW: Select readings from Visions of a Better World (about his trip to India) and Azaransky's book, This worldwide struggle: religion and the international roots of the civil rights movement.
Worksheet on global network analysis, then and now
November 16. Session 3. India, Gandhi, satyagraha and the book that changed history (THIS DATE IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE; the Wednesday Nov 15 date is impossible for instructor to make)
Discussion of material, review of Gandhi and prep for Jesus and the Disinherited. Class discussion (or at least an interview with) Ramasubramanian, a Ghandian, to discuss the relationship between Gandhi's concepts and Thurman's work.
HW: Read Jesus and the Disinherited
Creative expression (preferably non-verbal) on the "3 hounds of hell" and "love"
November 29. Session 4: Discussion of J&D and swaraj/freedom (NOTE: this time is subject to change based on instructor's availability).
HW: sermons and select pieces of writing on the Fellowship Church and the importance of the inward journey
Sara interviews (or brings to final class discussion) someone from the HT Center
Mysticism and swaraj - guided reflection via sound, silence, and images
(No class on Thanksgiving Week - but the work continues!)
December 13. Session 5: With Thurman as our guide....
Creative integration projects.Wrap up, discussion of what does it mean to "sojourn" with HT: avoiding imperial pedagogies; thinking deeper into "sovereignty"/swaraj and "soul force"
Bibliography of HT resources and the contemporary HT-fanclub