The Living Wisdom of Howard Thurman: A Visionary for Our Time

The Living Wisdom of Howard Thurman: A Visionary for Our TimeSummary: A collection of portions of Howard Thurman’s sermons, prayers, talks, and teaching.

Jesus and the Disinherited is Howard Thurman’s most influential book. It is the only book of Thurman’s I have read so far, but I have an autobiography and a collection of his meditations and sermons that I will get to eventually.

When I think of Thurman, I think of him primarily as a mentor to Martin Luther King Jr. And because King died in 1968, and Jesus and the Disinherited was published in 1949, I think of Thurman as someone from the first half of the 20th century, but Thurman lived until 1981.

The Living Wisdom of Howard Thurman is a collection of sermons, prayers, and talks with introductions to different sections by Alice Walker, Vincent Harding, and several others. The openings were helpful because many of the contributors relate personal stories about Thurman as part of their sections.

Because these are all actual recordings of Thurman and not narrations of his written work, the quality is not as high as most audiobooks. However, the ability to hear him, in his voice, makes up for any weakness in audio quality. Many of these are from his time as pastor of the Church of the Fellowship of All Peoples. This church was an early, intentionally interracial church, started in 1944 (before the Kneel in Protests across the country.) Thurman was co-pastor with Alfred Fisk, a White man, until 1953 when he became the Dean of Marsh Chapel at Boston College.

The main negative of the collection is that there is very little content more than five to ten minutes long. I would have like many more full-length sermons. I am not sure if the choice to primarily collect snippets was in the interest of a broader range of content, or issues of audio quality. Whichever it was, the decision leaves the listener without full context in many cases.

When I finished The Living Wisdom of Howard Thurman, I started a similar collection, The Radical King. The Radical King is mostly full-length speeches and sermons, but it is also only narrated by modern celebrities doing dramatic readings, Danny Glover, LeVar Burton, Leslie Odom Jr, etc. The narration is high quality, and the full-length sermons or speeches are helpful, but I miss the voice of King. So I will be happy with what I have with the actual sound of Thurman words.

Thurman was a mystic. This collection highlights that far more than Jesus and the Disinherited. Mystics, in part, are dealing with ideas and spiritual experience that is hard to communicate. There are definitely sections here that I need to listen to again. The format has a tendency to reduce Thurman to spiritual sage. He certainly was a wise man, and I am interested in him in part because of his elder statement of the Civil Rights movement status. But my impression of him is that while a true mystic and idealist, he was a much more practical man than what ‘spiritual sage’ tends to communicate.

The Living Wisdom of Howard Thurman is one of those books that I am happy to have, but want more from.

The Living Wisdom of Howard Thurman: A Visionary for Our Time Purchase Links: Audible.com Audiobook

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