Can mystics be political activists? Can our encounter with God inspire us to be agents of social transformation? Through the lens of Howard Thurman’s life and mystical theology, Bruce Epperly explores what it means to join prophetic ministry with personal and social healing. Despite the racism he experienced throughout his life, Thurman joined his spiritual experiences with a commitment to racial and social healing. He was a prophet, challenging racism and social injustice. He was also a healer who experienced God’s presence in oppressor as well as oppressed. Thurman’s holistic spirituality provides a pathway for social healing in a time characterized by polarization, incivility, and hatred. Thurman reminds us that we can both picket and pray, and protest injustice while working toward reconciliation.
The spiritual exercises at the end of each chapter draw on Howard Thurman’s work to challenge us – if we practice these exercises seriously and with commitment – to develop a new view of our opponents. They help us toward loving our enemies, and becoming the “friendly world of friendly persons” that Thurman described.