January 15, 2007

MLK, 2007

You certainly wouldn't know it looking at the homepage of The New York Times, but today we celebrate the life and work of Martin Luther King. Being an ivory tower intellectual, I celebrate not by contributing to the ongoing fight for justice and civil rights for all people everywhere, but instead by reading an essay. If you think this is a crappy way to celebrate, you're probably right, but it's a lot better than sleeping in and watching Comedy Central all day.

King was educated as a theologian, with a heavy dose of philosophy, and his Letter from Birmingham Jail is a beautiful discussion of the legitimacy and necessity of civil disobedience, just and unjust laws, and race consciousness:

I suppose I should have realized that few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent and determined action.

Christians will also be interested in King's criticisms of the conventional American church; for more on that, read today's piece on King in The Chron.

The link above has links, in turn, to the Letter, and a brief historical discussion putting the Letter in context. It's not too long; I highly recommend taking a few minutes to read it.

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