Monday, January 17, 2011

Random thoughts on MLK Day 2011

The first email I got this morning was from Louie Crew reminding me that today is the 13th anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood. (Thanks, Louie!) And the second was a link to the 1974 essay Louie wrote reflecting on the work and witness of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Thanks, Walking With Integrity.)

So all mushed together in my reflections this morning are thoughts about priestly vocation and prophetic voices; about history observed and future unfolding; about how far we've come and about how "stuck" we are.

For example this quote that seems so very germane to our striving to be a "Post-Tucson" America ...
"Hate at any point is a cancer that gnaws away at the very vital center of your life and your existence. It is like eroding acid that eats away the best and the objective center of your life. So Jesus says love, because hate destroys the hater as well as the hated." -- from a 1957 sermon by MLKing Jr.
...written over a half-century ago. If only we could have learned that lesson then, how different our world would be now.

And this excerpt from "Martin Luther King, Jr: A White Southerner's Perspective" -- Louie's 1974 essay written for "The Living Church:"
It did not take long for me to see that the violence my people feared from Dr. King was the violence of our own nature. His doctrine of love exposed us, as spiritually impoverished. Without this painful exposure, few of us would have done much to remedy our plight.
... which still speaks to us thirty-plus years later as we continue to work to expose and heal the deeply internalized diseases of racism, sexism, heterosexism/homophobia ... of all those spiritual impoverishments that keep us from living into the full stature of our lives in Christ.
And I'm still thinking about the Susannah Heschel quote I posted the other day on this blog ... one the rector used in his sermon yesterday:
“Words, [my father] often wrote, are themselves sacred, God’s own tool for creating the universe, and our tools for bringing holiness—or evil— into the world. He used to remind us that the Holocaust did not begin with the building of crematoria, and Hitler did not come to power with tanks and guns; it all began with uttering evil words, with defamation, with language and propaganda. Words create worlds." -- Susannah Heschel, speaking of her father, Rabbi Abraham Heschel

(You can watch Ed's sermon here.)
And I'm thinking about the challenge of challenging the evils that confront us while still respecting the dignity of every human being ... even those we most disagree with; who most challenge us; who TOTALLY push our buttons; who use "evil words" to create worlds of division, polarization, discrimination and death.

So back to Dr. King's 1957 sermon:
“There is a power in love that our world has not discovered yet. Jesus discovered it centuries ago. Mahatma Gandhi of India discovered it a few years ago, but most men and most women never discover it. For they believe in hitting for hitting; they believe in an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth; they believe in hating for hating; but Jesus comes to us and says, “This isn’t they way”.

...There is another way. And that is to organize mass non-violent resistance based on the principle of love. It seems to me that this is the only way as our eyes look to the future. As we look out across the years and across the generations, let us develop and move right here. We must discover the power of love, the power, the redemptive power of love. And when we discover that we will be able to make of this old world a new world. We will be able to make men better. Love is the only way."
Jesus incarnated it. Martin proclaimed it. May we be given the grace to follow it.

Here endeth the blog.

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