Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.

mlking.gif39 years ago, today, Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) was assassinated in Memphis, TN.  What would he say to us, today?  Would he still say, “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world is my own government?” What would he say about the gap between rich and poor, about how there are more African-Americans in prison than in college, about the failures of all political parties and ideologies? What would he say about Christians who endorse torture in the name of fighting terrorism?  Would the King who said in 1964, “I have watched my dream become a nightmare” denounce the nightmare of today’s American business imperialism? Would the King who spoke of how bombs dropped in Vietnam explode in U.S. ghettos speak of how the war in Iraq has drained resources for rebuilding New Orleans?

Would the King who was so excited about movements of African independence from colonialism in the ’60s have harsh words for the many corrupt regimes in Africa, today? What would he say to Zimbabwe or Nigeria or Sudan or Rwanda or Cote d’Ivoire?  What would he say about how global corporations make those situations worse rather than better?  What would he say about the Caribbean, especially Haiti?

What would the King who marched alongside rabbis and imams have to say about the Palestinian-Israeli crisis?

In 1963 while sitting in a Birmingham city jail, King asked about the white churches which either supported segregation openly or were silent, “Who is their God?” Would he today ask about the “god” worshipped by white Christians who deny there is still racism (or reduce it to “feelings of the heart” and deny institutional dimensions) or who foster anti-immigrant policies, or who support the death penalty?

Today, a tamed, watered down version of Martin Luther King is widely admired.  The real King was no plastic saint. He had faults–including a series of extramarital affairs, an addiction to tobacco (kept off camera), and doubts as his faith was tried in a crucible. But the real, flawed, Martin King was also the radical disciple whose radical challenges have hardly been heard by Christians in the U.S. We prefer the tamed Dreamer.

April 4, 2007 Posted by | economic justice, heroes, human rights., MLK | 10 Comments

On Political Theology

Be sure to check out Kim Fabricius’ 10 Propositions on Political Theology over at Ben Myers’ blog, Faith and Theology.  They are excellent. As are many of the comments. They are worth pondering as we continue through Holy Week, reliving Judas’ betrayal (a political act trying to force Jesus’ hand to becoming a violent revolutionary–and siding with the Powers and Authorities of oppression to do such coercion!) and Peter’s denial (disappointed that Jesus surrendered to the authorities and even healed the dude Peter was trying to behead) tomorrow, and the political show trial and execution on Friday. And the U.S. Supreme Court dropped the ball, allowing the Gitmo Gulag to continue and show trials with confessions obtained by torture. Where is the voice of the church, now?

 Also, GOOD NEWS:  The 15 British sailors have been released from Iranian captivity unharmed! Rejoice!

April 4, 2007 Posted by | economic justice, human rights., liberation, nonviolence, politics, theology, torture | 1 Comment