Howard Thurman: For the Inward Journey; Harcourt Brace Jovanovich; San Diego.
During his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, Jesse Jackson was widely praised for using the language of black evangelism. Wiser observers recognized that Jackson had actually degraded his inherited religious vocabulary by cutting it loose from its spiritual roots and putting it into the service of the politics of greed. The late Howard Thurman was another black preacher who sought to turn his black Christianity into something new. Studying under the Quaker mystic Rufus Jones and drawing inspiration from Rabindranath Tagore, he sought to reinterpret the relationship between Christianity and the Black experience in America within a more inclusive vision. Most Christians, black and white, will find some of his thought heretical, verging at times on pantheism. Dr. Thurman’s probing reflections on love, hate, discipleship, race, suffering, and faith, however, do far transcend the paltry histrionics for which the Rev. Jackson was so extravagantly lauded. cc
Robert V. Hine: California’s Utopian Colonies;University of California; Berkeley.
Bishop Berkeley’s observation that the course of empire was westward is particularly appropriate when the empire is Icaria, the Brotherhood of New Life, the Theosophical Colonies, or the Cooperative Commonwealth of Kaweah. The old joke — that everything not nailed down too tight ends up in California — was as true 100 years ago as it is today. Attracted by the climate, the frontier freedom, and the mystic aura of the Golden West, crack brained religious and socialist sects of every description eventually set up shop in the place where it never rains. Robert Hine’s now classic (1953) study documents the 17 utopian communities established in California between 1850 and 1950. This new edition contains a preface which provides a brief perspective on the communards of the 1960’s as well as a bibliographical update on utopian studies since 1953.
It is small wonder if Hines, after devoting so much of his life to studying zanies, has lost sight of the distinction between normal and abnormal. He assesses the contribution made by utopian studies as “the continuous recall of utopian possibilities that they may someday become realizable,” and adds, “God-speed for their journey!” God-speed, yes, and good riddance. cc