I do read books, watch You Tube videos, and listen to podcast from the Orthodox Church. Chances are that I may eventually become a convert, though no time soon. But, there are some people and things about the African-American Protestant faith that I am not willing to easily discard. In fact, I believe that we have some important offerings that can enhance the cause of Orthodoxy in America. Every now and then, I will promote the best of what we bring to the table of the ancient faith.
Howard Thurman was a mystic and theologian who led believers to search for the root of bonding with God. While many preachers were content to “Whoop” and holler. Thurman called on his congregants, students, and listeners to think and concentrate on matters of the spirit. It is easy to see emotionalism as a part of our church practice. But, Thurman saw something more meaningful through our experience of slavery and segregation. That we have to reach a point of silence and reflection. From this point, what he calls the “centering moment,” we can then yield ourselves to the spirit higher than our own and be directed by it. True faith has little to do with external expressions of religious acts. But, it has everything to do with our internal pursuit of something more meaningful.
With such spiritual insight, Dr. Thurman was one of the most influential theologians of our faith. It is said that Dr. Martin Luther King often traveled with a well-worn copy of one of his books. The church he founded, Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples, still exist as do many of his books. For those unfamiliar with this man, I suggest his book “Disciplines of the Spirit” as a good introduction to his thought and theology.