Daily Archives: January 18, 2010

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: Letter from a Birmingham Jail

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness”–then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Law & Legal Issues, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

New York Jets Advance to A.F.C. Title Game

Minutes after the Jets cemented the most surprising upset of this N.F.L. season, before travel plans for the American Football Conference championship had been booked, linebacker Bart Scott stood defiant at his locker, mouth running, faster than ever.

Scott loudly listed the slights, the dozens of so-called experts who picked against the Jets, who said they backed into these playoffs, even the Chargers, who Scott said spent the first half reminding the Jets they did not belong.

On the Jets’ joy ride to the game before the Super Bowl, their loquacious linebacker and the rest of his teammates have clung to their underdog status. Even after they topped the Chargers, 17-14, in front of the 69,498 they silenced at Qualcomm Stadium, the Jets sounded the same theme.

“Everybody can say we don’t deserve to be here,” Scott said. “That we snuck in. That we’re a fluke.” Then Scott added, “We haven’t even cracked the seal on how good we can be.”

Read it all.

Update: Agony in San Diego–“Bolts’ bitter end: Miscues derail hopes of Chargers ”” and fans.” Read it all also.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

David Biderman: 11 Minutes of Action

Football fans everywhere are preparing to settle in for the NFL’s biggest and most electric weekend of the season””a four-game playoff marathon that will swallow up at least 12 hours of broadcast time over two days.

But here’s something even dedicated students of the game may not fully appreciate: There’s very little actual football in a football game.

I had no idea it was this little until I read this article last week–check it out.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

James H. Cone–Martin Luther King, Jr., Black Theology–Black Church

Because many misunderstand the origin of King’s theology in the black church, they also misunderstand his relation to black theology. Many assume that black theology and Martin Luther King, Jr. have completely different theological and political perspectives. Persons who hold this viewpoint often explain the difference by saying that King was concerned primarily with love, non-violence, and the reconciliation between blacks and whites. But black theology, in contrast to King, seldom mentions love or reconciliation between blacks and whites and explicitly rejects non-violence with its endorsement of Malcolm X’s contention that blacks should achieve their freedom “by any means necessary.” Some claim that black theology is a separatist and an extremist interpretation of the Christian faith. But King was an integrationist and a moderate who believed that whites can and should be redeemed.

During a decade of writing and teaching Black Theology, the most frequent question that has been addressed to me, publically and privately, by blacks and especially whites, has been: “How do you reconcile the separatist and violent orientation of black theology with Martin Luther King’s emphasis on integration, love, and non-violence?” I have always found it difficult to respond to this question because those who ask it seem unaware of the interrelations between King, black theology, and the black church.

While it is not my primary intention to compare King and black theology, I do hope that an explication of his theology in the context of the black church will show, for those interested in a comparison, that black theology and King are not nearly as far apart as some persons might be inclined to think.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

A Prayer for a Martin Luther King Day Celebration

God of our forebears and our God, who has summoned women and men throughout the ages to be thy witnesses and sometimes martyrs for thee, we bow before thee this day in remembrance and thanksgiving for the life and legacy of thy servant, witness and martyr, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We thank thee for his time among us, for his words and for his deeds, and for the quality of his living witness which eases the pain of recalling the brevity of his years. We rejoice in his example of obedient faith and the scenes and stations of his life which inform and enrich our own faith journeys. And we beseech thee this day for the strength, steadfastness and courage not only to remember but also to obey.

We remember the footsteps of Dr. King: walking everywhere in Montgomery, Alabama, during the bus boycott; sidestepping snarling dogs, swinging billy clubs, and torrential fire hoses in Birmingham; charting a King’s highway in the desert wastelands of bigotry and hatred from Selma to Montgomery, from Memphis to Jackson, from Chicago to Cicero; walking ever and always where Jesus walked among the lonely and the lost; the downtrodden and the outcast; those denied their dignity and robbed of their rights. Lord, guide and enable us to follow his footsteps that we too may be found in those places of danger, division, discord and sorrow where love is so desperately needed but so painfully absent. Let us hear and feel anew the words of the old freedom song beckoning us to faith commitment in community with our fellow disciples of Jesus Christ, saying, “Walk together children, and don’t get weary.”

We remember the gentle, patient courage of Dr. King, as he made the teachings of Jesus the literal rule for loving: refusing the temptation to render an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth but rendering instead good for evil; nonviolently offering the other cheek to those who, blinded by hate, taunted and loving those who chose to be his enemies and persecutors; following his Lord in showing the greatest love of all by laying down his life for others. Lord, give us the courage to live by what we say we believe and to accept the teachings of Christ as codes of conduct rather than mere words of inspiration.

We remember the restless and unrelenting commitment of Dr. King, as he refused to barter justice or compromise thy Word; insisting that the demand for justice, freedom and human dignity applies to all thy children in Southeast Asia as well as the South Bronx, and throughout the two-thirds of thy creation where injustice and oppression preserve the privilege of the other third. Lord, save us from the temptation to be satisfied with partial fulfillment and limited expression of thy truth. Help us both to love our neighbors and also to see the whole world as our neighborhood.

O God, fashion and mold our memories into a guiding vision for active discipleship, so that we may not only long and yearn for thy coming kingdom but may also recognize its arrival and presence in the risen Christ Jesus, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, in whose blessed name we pray. Amen.

— The Reverend Dr. Randolph Nugent
General Secretary, Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist Church

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, History, Race/Race Relations, Spirituality/Prayer

A Man on the Street: A Slide Show of Martin Luther King Jr.

In America’s poorest ghettos, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s portrait is one of the most popular subjects of public art. These images, which I have been documenting since 1977, regularly appear on the walls of the liquor stores, auto-repair shops, fast-food restaurants, mom-and-pop stores and public housing projects of Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York and many other cities across the country. The majority are the work of amateur artists. Though Dr. King is usually front and center, he is often accompanied by other inspirational figures: Nelson Mandela, John Paul II, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Mother Teresa, Pancho Villa. He is often accompanied by his famous phrase, “I have a dream” ”“ a reminder that in many of the communities where these murals exist, the gulf between hope and reality remains far too wide. — Camilo José Vergara

Watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, History, Race/Race Relations

Tom Krattenmaker: Why Christians should seek MLK’s dream

Americans err if we believe that it’s only a black responsibility to right the social wrongs of racial inequality. It’s a white responsibility, too ”” and a Christian responsibility. Why Christians? It’s not that other faiths can’t do their part as well, but Christians ”” by sheer number and religious tradition ”” could be our best hope.

History shows that the teachings of Christianity hold an undeniable power to inspire positive social movements and call Americans to conscience, as they did during King’s time. Many Christians will be the first to tell you they should be held to a higher standard ”” because their religion insists on it.

Let’s improve educational and economic opportunities for African-Americans. Let’s acknowledge and root out the racism that mocks the American ideal. Let’s reject the harmful message of the prosperity gospel and reclaim the best of the nation’s black church tradition, with Christians ”” white as well as black ”” leading the charge for the dispossessed.

As the distinguished columnist Roger Cohen recently reminded, it is on the matter of race where one finds the greatest gulf between American behavior and American ideals. Will history find the same gap between Christian behavior and Christian ideals?

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam

Watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: I Have a Dream

I find it always is really worth the time–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, History, Race/Race Relations

Local Newspaper Editorial: King's transforming legacy

Clearly, Americans of 2009 are far more inclined than Americans of 1929 or 1968 to heed the Rev. King’s call that we judge others not “by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Yet that positive outcome was far from assured during his time. Less than a half century ago, cruel racism and the long-simmering resentments it fueled threatened to tear apart our nation.

Thanks to the Rev. King, though, our nation was forced to take a hard look at itself and make necessary transformations. Ultimately, his call for overdue fairness and cooperative understanding prevailed through peaceful, yet morally overwhelming, persuasion.

But this warning he issued to all people bears repeating: “Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man’s sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Race/Race Relations

Local Paper Front Page: Carrying on Martin Luther King Jr.'s work

When Ty’Sheoma Bethea wrote to Congress to plead for help for her crumbling junior high school, she was just “a little girl from Dillon” trying to make a difference. She never dreamed it would earn her an invitation to President Barack Obama’s first State of the Union address.

Ty’Sheoma’s initiative not only earned her national acclaim, it got the ball rolling to finally fix her old school in South Carolina’s so-called “Corridor of Shame.” And it taught the eighth-grader how words can make a difference, just as they had in the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “Letter from the Birmingham Jail,” a rallying cry for the civil rights movement.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, History, Race/Race Relations

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

–Hebrews 4:14,15

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Confession of Saint Peter

Almighty Father, who didst inspire Simon Peter, first among the apostles, to confess Jesus as Messiah and Son of the Living God: Keep thy Church steadfast upon the rock of this faith, that in unity and peace we may proclaim the one truth and follow the one Lord, our Savior Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

The Economist: The curse of long-term unemployment will bedevil the economy

The 2000s””the Noughts, some call them””turned out to be jobless. Only about 400,000 more Americans were employed in December 2009 than in December 1999, while the population grew by nearly 30m. This dismal rate of job creation raises the distinct possibility that America’s recovery from the latest recession may also be jobless. The economy almost certainly expanded during the second half of 2009, but 800,000 additional jobs were lost all the same.

It took four solid years for employment to regain its peak after the 2001 recession. With jobs so scarce, wages stagnated even as the cost of living rose, forcing households to borrow to maintain their standard of living. According to Raghuram Rajan, an economist at the University of Chicago, this set the stage for the most recent crisis and recession””a crisis, ultimately, caused by household indebtedness. If the current recovery is indeed jobless, wages will continue to lag. Since they are now virtually unable to borrow, households will have to make do with less, and reduced spending is likely to make the economic recovery more uncertain still.

So which is it to be: jobless or job-full? Of paramount concern is the growth in long-term unemployment. Around four in every ten of the unemployed””some 6m Americans””have been out of work for 27 weeks or more.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

Pastors in Northwest Find Focus in ”˜Green’

Religious leaders have been preaching environmentalism for years, and much attention has focused on politically powerful evangelical Christian leaders who have taken up climate change as a cause. Yet some smaller, older and often struggling mainline churches are also going greener, reducing their carbon footprint by upgrading basement boilers and streamlining the Sunday bulletin, swapping Styrofoam for ceramic mugs at coffee hour and tending jumbled vegetable gardens where lawns once were carefully cultivated.

“I’ve never been good at door-to-door evangelism,” said Deb Conklin, the pastor at Liberty Park United Methodist Church in Spokane, Wash., where an aging and shrinking congregation of about 20 people worships on Sundays. “But this has been so fun. Everybody wants to talk to you. It’s exciting. It’s ministry.”

Several mainline church leaders in the Northwest said environmentalism offered an entry point, especially to younger adults, who might view Christianity as wrought with debates over gay rights and abortion.

A study released in December by the Barna Group, which more typically studies trends among evangelicals, said that older, mainline churches faced many challenges but that their approach to environmental issues was among several areas that “position those churches well for attracting younger Americans.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Other Churches, Parish Ministry