Thursday, February 02, 2012

On MLK - from a friend


My friend from some time at DUKE, the Rev. William (Bill) H. Lamar, IV shared these insightful words about MLK, Jr. a few weeks ago.

I received them then . . . but only had time to engage and read them now.

His full post can be read via the original at the Washington Post.

I like these lines from Rev. Lamar :

It is hard to say what King would be doing and saying if he were alive.  But preachers traffic in imagination.  So let me imagine based on my study of the man’s life and legacy. He would not be very popular among the educated black middle class because he would remind us of our entanglement in the trappings of success and material excess while neglecting the dire educational and economic straits faced by millions upon millions of our people.  He would not be popular among the corporatocracy (the powerful oligarchy of corporations, banks, and governments that control finance and economics and therefore politics) because he would call out their unchecked greed, astronomical salaries, and their erosion of the protection and prosperity of workers.  He would not be popular in the White House because American muscular militarism has not yielded to peaceful ways to resolve conflict and the era of government by and for the haves to the exclusion of the have-nots seems uninterrupted.  Neither Democrats nor Republicans utter the word poverty and the middle class they fetishizes with rhetoric and neglect with policy shrinks every second. He would not be popular with the self-centered, culturally accommodated American church.  He would remind us that we exist to serve, not to be served.

A frozen Martin Luther King is not what we need. A sweet, saccharine a historical Martin Luther King is not what we need. We need the King who died unpopular among blacks and whites because he was more concerned with truth and justice than popularity and access.  The King who said no to Vietnam.  No to American empire.  No to a silent, lethargic church. We need the King who said yes to the dignity and humanity of the poor. Yes to the personhood of people of every race, gender, and socioeconomic status.  We need the King who knew that the parched land of America needed the waters of justice in order to bloom into what the founders envisioned even in their brokenness.

I may get to the monument.  But I won’t stay long.  Can’t stay long.  The living, breathing King will be beckoning me away from the mountain and into the valley where there is work to do.

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