Session 1: Concerning the Search—Spirituality and Science
Greetings, course participants—and Welcome!
I have not met any of you yet. But I have been thinking about you and praying for you ever since I began creating this Howard Thurman course for the Center for Christogenesis. I am so excited for our first week together during which we will read and think, talk and listen, learn and pray together with each other and Thurman himself.
Each week you will receive an email from me. In it I will offer suggestions and resources to help you make the most of your individual reading and reflection and our weekly class sessions.
Because this is our first week together, I want to keep things simple. Please reflect on the following questions and scripture passage before you begin this week’s reading. Consider keeping them in your mind, or better yet printing them out, and keeping them by your side as you make your way through Thurman’s words and wisdom. Let these questions—as well as the more personal questions, memories, and challenges they provoke in you—guide your journey with Thurman in this initial week.
- Consider the word “search.” Reflect on it for a minute or two. Say it in your mind. Speak it in your heart. Now say it out loud. Even sing or shout it if you want to! What experiences, ideas, memories, questions, favorite quotations or scripture verses come into your mind and spirit as you are doing these things?
- Howard Thurman is our primary spiritual and theological teacher in this course. I am a Thurman research and teaching specialist, yet even in my most original treatment of him, I am but a mouthpiece. I know his life, thought, and work very well. And every time I teach or write about Howard Thurman, I notice or learn something new—about him, and about myself. This in mind, think about who Howard Thurman is for you right now. Some of you are “meeting” him for the very first time in this course. Others of you have perhaps known, and traveled with, Thurman for several years or more. What questions do you have about him—as a person, as a theologian, as a spiritual guide? What potential biases, whether positive or negative, or assumptions do you have about who Howard Thurman was, what he thought, and why he is—or is not—important for us today? Finally, given what you do know of Thurman at present: What about him most comforts and inspires you? What about him most challenges and frustrates you?
- How do you—whether philosophically, scientifically, or theologically—define “community?” Where have you experienced such “community” in your life up to this point? Where has it been absent in your life?
“The spirit of a person is the lamp of the Lord–searching all the innermost parts of their being.” Proverbs 20:27
Recording of session1: Click on image below with the password “whole” to view the recording of session 1.
and Social Change
The Center for Christogenesis is offering this course as an opportunity to explore Howard Thurman’s socio-spiritual vision of community as set forth in his seminal text The Search For Common Ground: An Inquiry into The Basis of Man’s Experience of Community (1971). Thurman’s notion of “community,” and related concern for what he termed “whole-making,” have much in common with the 20th century English process philosopher Alfred North Whitehead’s concept of “concrescence.” “Community” was foundational to Thurman’s personal life and spirituality, as well as his pastoral ministry and related theological writing. His “search for community” was holistic and relentless.