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Mysticism and Social Change

The Social Witness of Howard Thurman

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Alton B. Pollard, III

Academics and activists alike have long dismissed mysticism as an «otherworldly» and escapist form of religion. Alton B. Pollard III, in a ground breaking study of the noted African-American mystic, Howard Thurman, presents an analysis of religious experience that challenges prevailing interpretations of mysticism and social change. Drawing on perspectives from sociology, phenomenology, and history, the author examines the meaning of mystical religion for the «underside» of contemporary American society. What he uncovers is significant: an activist form of mysticism, compelled by the dictates of spiritual experience, that defies social conventions and engenders social change.
Contents: Mysticism as Activism/The Making of a Mystic - Social Passages and Mystic Passages/Mysticism and Social Change - Thurman, Fellowship Church, and the Social Order/Activism and Beyond/Appendix - Sociological Perspectives.