Dangerous Spirituality

"You have not come to hear a detached, scholarly lecture about the two powerful figures who are on our program. I am deeply and unavoidably attached. Fully engaged. One of them, Howard Thurman, was my adopted father, pastor, and spiritual guide. The other, Martin King, was my adopted brother and leader in the struggle." So began Dr. Vincent Harding, delivering the first Sojourners Spirituality Lecture, excerpted below, on March 10, 1998. Harding's lecture was delivered in Howard University's Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel in Washington, D.C., where Howard Thurman once served as dean. —The Editors

In their different and sometimes similar ways, Howard Thurman and Martin King represented a spirituality deeply, solidly based in one place, among one people, about which they had no doubts at all. Just as Jesus of Nazareth represented a spirituality based in one place, among one people, about whom he had no doubts at all. At the same moment, both King and Thurman reached out far, far beyond that ground and that base and saw no contradictions in being grounded and reaching out as part of one motion of spirit and life.

Thurman was—and this was a deep part of his spirituality—a seeker. Thurman was never satisfied with the truth that he had achieved, knowing always that there was more to come, and that he must never think that he had found it all. And so in 1935, Howard Thurman and Sue Bailey Thurman—her name must be connected to his and his to hers, because they were a magnificent team and she was as powerful a figure as you could think of—went to India.

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Sojourners Magazine January-February 1999
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