ReligionProf Podcast with Martin Doblmeier: Backs Against The Wall – The Howard Thurman Story

ReligionProf Podcast with Martin Doblmeier: Backs Against The Wall – The Howard Thurman Story February 6, 2019

This week’s guest on the ReligionProf Podcast is Martin Doblmeier, and in this episode we talk primarily about his latest documentary, Backs Against the Wall: The Howard Thurman Story. Thurman is hopefully familiar to readers of this blog for his role in the civil rights movement and/or as author of books such as Jesus and the Disinherited. The new movie will be on the channel World this coming Friday, February 8th. It will also be coming to PBS stations around the country at various times over the coming months and years. The film is already available for purchase on Amazon, and there are screenings that have been organized in a variety of venues around the country. Here’s the information that Journey Films sent around:

Backs Against the Wall: The Howard Thurman Story is the second installment of the documentary film series on Prophetic Voices of the 20th Century. It begins airing on Public Television in February and premieres on the WORLD Channel February 8, 2019 at 6 pm and 9 pm ET.

The film tells the story of the great African American theologian whose writings and preaching had a profound impact on Martin Luther King, Jr and the entire Civil Rights Movement. But Thurman was also a spiritual pioneer – someone who understood the connection between the religious experience, contemplation and the potential for social transformation. His insights continue to attract large followings.

Walter Fluker blogs about the film on the Religion Now Patheos blog. And here you will find my blog post written after the showing of his film about Reinhold Niebuhr at Butler University.

I think this is an incredibly timely documentary, since we live in an era in which the effort for social progress and equal rights continues, and yet may not always have the mystical underpinnings that a figure like Thurman may provide, and without which some of the power that motivated a particular approach to change and reconciliation might not have been to the fore in the way that it was. We need to hear Thurman’s voice today, and we need voices like his for our own time. Hopefully this movie will help with the former as well as encouraging and inspiring the latter!

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