The Unfinished Search for Common Ground: Reimagining Howard Thurman’s Life and Work


Pages: 256

Binding: Softcover

The Unfinished Search for Common Ground: Reimagining Howard Thurman’s Life and Work

By: Walter Earl Fluker
  • $38.00


The Englewood Review of Books  

Ten Theology Books to Watch For 

June 2023 

“This marvelous set of deep and probing essays on the great Howard Thurman keeps his profound thought and prophetic witness vital and vibrant in our bleak times! I salute the indefatigable Walter Fluker for once again gathering the texts and voices as gifts to us all!”—Cornel West, Union Theological Seminary 

“Readers will find here a deep existential regard for the ‘unfinished’ in Thurman, and in life. They will savor the fine academic and homiletical voices of those who have brought their own ongoing searches to this moment. They will find here nourishment, sustenance, and hope.”—Rev. Dr. Robert Allan Hill, dean, Marsh Chapel, professor of New Testament and pastoral theology, Boston University

“The search for common ground is indeed incomplete and Walter Earl Fluker assembles the brightest minds to illuminate Thurman’s genius and why the search is so essential to our spiritual survival.”—Lerita Coleman Brown, Distinguished Professor Emerita of Psychology, Agnes Scott College; author, What Makes You Come Alive

“Howard Thurman is exactly the balm our nation needs at this divided moment. He remains America’s most articulate and insightful critic because he has a heart that envisions a better day, tempered by a wisdom that comes from being witness to humanity’s great failings.”—Martin Doblmeier, Emmy Award winning filmmaker, Backs Against the Wall: The Howard Thurman Story

“Howard Thurman’s vision of common ground is not based on superficial agreement or similarities, but requires deep engagement with our differences—an essential task in these violently divided times. The multigenerational and multireligious contributors to this excellent volume carry forward Thurman’s search, exploring its significance for our contemporary world. They invite us to join them in collective reflection, seeking fresh insights to guide us toward spiritual wholeness and authentic community. Readers of this volume will find inspiration and worthy companionship for their own inward quest.” —Liza J. Rankow, producer and co-editor, The Living Wisdom of Howard Thurman audio collection


“‘How long, oh Lord?’ This question constitutes the perennial appeal at the heart of the prophetic tradition. In this volume, Walter Fluker assembles an incredible cast of religious scholars who examine the life and work of Howard Thurman toward reimagining human responsibility for the answer. The Unfinished Search for Common Ground encourages the reader to not only imagine spiritual and democratic spaces of human flourishing to combat the pressing ills of our age. This volume reminds the reader why the ongoing search for common ground is essential for each generation. Ambivalence in the face of pressing spiritual malaise and social decay is not an option.”—Jonathan Lee Walton, President, Princeton Theological Seminary

“Howard Thurman, one of the greatest minds and souls to gift America, left a tremendous legacy to nurture and challenge us all to strive toward our greatest human possibilities and to share those possibilities in community. Walter Fluker has gathered a group of scholars whose reflections on and interpretations of Thurman shine new lights on the timeless power of Thurman’s tremendous body of work for ‘the healing of the nations.’” —Cheryl Townsend Gilkes, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor Emerita, African American studies and sociology, Hartford International University for Religion and Peace 


This book aims to summarize the life and work of Howard Thurman while also stimulating Thurman scholars in their ongoing explorations of his importance.

One of the leading religious figures of twentieth-century America, Thurman was one of the first prominent African American pacifists. He led the first delegation of African Americans to meet with Mahatma Gandhi in 1936, and his theology of radical nonviolence, outlined in Jesus and the Disinherited (1949), influenced and shaped a generation of civil rights activists. And his insistence on the integrity and centrality of personal religious experience was communicated for a half-century in books, and through a personal presence, that continues to have an impact on religious thought and spiritual practice.

Walter Earl Fluker is Dean’s Professor of Spirituality, Ethics, and Leadership, Candler School of Theology, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor Emeritus of Ethical Leadership, Boston University. Editor of the Howard Thurman Papers Project, Dr. Fluker is an internationally regarded consultant, lecturer, and workshop leader. He is coeditor of the Orbis series “Walking with God: The Sermon Series of Howard Thurman,” which includes The Way of the Mystics, Moral Struggle and the Prophets, and Democracy and the Soul of America.


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