My next book is a re-read from earlier this year: Jesus and the Disinherited by Howard Thurman. It is part of the Renovare Book Club and so I am working my way back through the book. A PBS documentary on the life of Howard Thurman:
For the privileged and the underprivileged alike, if the individual puts at the disposal of the Spirit the needful dedication and discipline, he can live effectively in the chaos of the present in the high destiny of a son of God. — Howard Thurman, Jesus and the Disinherited
“… the child of the disinherited is like to live a heavy life. A ceiling is placed on his dreaming by the counsel of despair coming from his elders, whom experience has taught to expect little and to hope for less. If, on the other hand, the elders understand in their own experiences and lives the tremendous insight of Jesus, it is possible for them to share their enthusiasm with their children. This is the qualitative overtone springing from the depths of religious insight, and it is contagious. It will put into the hands of the child the key for unlocking the door of his hopes. It must never be forgotten that human beings can be conditioned in favor of the positive as well as the negative.” (Howard Thurman, Jesus and the Disinherited)
Howard Thurman’s book Jesus and the Disinherited, published in 1949, is still a prophetic voice into our current world. It is time for change.
Thurman walks through the fear that keeps the oppressed “in their place.” Fear of violent action causes the oppressed to fall into an “unremitting status of inferiority.”
But Thurman also demonstrates how fear works in the lives of the oppressors:
“This fear insulates the conscience against a sense of wrongdoing in carrying out a policy of segregation. (NOTE: Now think of this in terms of our current disastrous immigration policies.) For it counsels that if there were no segregation, there would be no protection against invasion of the home, the church, the school. (Also think of the knee jerk reaction to the phrase: “Defund the Police”.) This fear perpetrates the Jewish ghettos in Western civilization, the restrictive covenants in California and other states, the Chinatowns, the Little Tokyos, and the Street of the Untouchables in Hindu lands.”
Those in power and privilege fear losing that power and privilege and it drives policy, ordinances, laws, and actions. You have to stay in power so you create an enemy.
I confess. I cry a lot of tears walking through this little book.
Written in 1949, Howard Thurman’s Jesus and the Disinherited still shouts into our conscience if we will listen. Now seems to be the time to hear.Read more