Thursday, July 23, 2015

Strength to Love

Strength to Love by Martin Luther King, Jr.   158 pages

There was more to Martin Luther King, Jr. than as the leading representative of the early 1960s Civil Rights Movement. He was a Baptist preacher first and foremost. And here we have a collection of his sermons, some written while he was jailed.

This is the third of the five books King collected/wrote before his tragic assassination in 1968. They were composed during the years 1955-1963. It’s also one of his most requested works.

Theses short and meditative sermons, crafted during the heyday of the Civil Rights Movement, are predominately about racial segregation in America. They have a heavy emphasis “on permanent religious values. I was amazed that the words spoken by King sixtyish years ago are purposeful today as they were back then. Well, the first ten spoke to today’s racial unrest; the other five didn’t for me, carry the weight of modern times.

His widow, Coretta Scott King, wrote in a Forward that was penned in 1981:  "I believe it is because this book best explains the central element of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s philosophy of nonviolence: His belief in a divine, loving presence that binds all life. That insight, luminously conveyed in this classic text, here presented in a new and attractive edition, hints at the personal transformation at the root of social justice: “By reaching into and beyond ourselves and tapping the transcendent moral ethic of love, we shall overcome these evils."

One of the things I thought about as I read, is that we, event in the 21st Century, and especially here is St. Louis, are still practicing segregation. Oh the Colored Only signs may be gone, but look at our neighborhoods. And not only in St. Louis, but around the country, blacks and whites are segregated via their neighborhoods.  Interesting concept, in my opinion, and something on which to ponder.

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