Monday, January 21, 2008

Martin Luther King Jr.

Every time I watch this speech from the 1968 March on Washington it gives me goose bumps and brings me to tears.

I absolutely agree with Greg Boyd's take on MLK Jr.,
Before marching, King would always tell his audiences he didn't want anyone marching who could not genuinely say she loved her white oppressors and was marching not only for her own freedom, but for the freedom of her oppressors (for King saw that oppressing another is as much a form of bondage as being oppressed). Not only this, but King would tell audiences he didn't want anyone marching who couldn't commit to refraining from all violence, even in self-defense. King explicitly based all this on the teaching and example of Jesus.

This makes what King did not simply a good and necessary social movement. It makes what King did a Kingdom movement. Indeed, I'd argue that the early civil rights movement, led by King, was one of the clearest expressions of the Kingdom [of God] in history.
Beliefnet posted a series of quotes from MLK's sermons. One in particular seemed relevant for American's today,
"In the terrible midnight of war men have knocked on the door of the church to ask for the bread of peace, but the church has often disappointed them. What more pathetically reveals the irrelevancy of the church in present-day world affairs than its witness regarding war? In a world gone mad with arms buildup, chauvinistic passions and imperialistic exploitation, the church has either endorsed these activities or remained appallingly silent. ...A weary world, pleading desperately for peace, has often found the church morally sanctioning war."
It was at this point in history that the cuddly black King became a nuisance to white America. It is one thing to target bigots who sic dogs on black teenagers and use fire hoses on peaceful protesters, it is quite another to criticize a war against Godless communism in Southeast Asia.

The American church today would do well to reflect on the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. on more than just one day a year.

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