50 years ago today, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his poignant essay “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”. A watershed moment for the American Civil Rights Movement, King’s letter continues to be an entry point for understanding Christian opposition to systemic injustice. The stark realities of churches captive to cultural notions of superiority echo from its pages and should give us reason again to acknowledge our complicity in mistreatment of our neighbor (regardless their ethnicity, gender, or creed) and resolve to change ourselves and our communities.
In his address, King is writing to white pastors who were silent or resistant to the need for social justice regarding civil rights for African-Americans, and his call resounds to Christians who are ignorant of the histories and current realities of ethnically and historically marginalized groups. Continuing to ignore the reality (or the identity-creating history) perpetuates the cultural divides that subtly (and not-so-subtly) influence contemporary Christianity.
Below is the letter in it’s entirety.
16 April 1963
My Dear Fellow Clergymen:
While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities “unwise and untimely.” Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms. Continue reading
“Que mi sangre sea semilla de libertad y la señal de que la esperanza será pronto una realidad.”
(Let my blood be a seed of freedom and the sign that hope will soon be reality.)
- Archbishop Óscar Romero
On March 24, 1980, Archbishop Óscar Romero of El Salvador was assassinated while he was celebrating the mass.
Romero had become an advocate and champion of the poor in El Salvador and Latin America, which brought him into opposition with the right-wing military government. Following his assassination, he has been recognized as a candidate for canonization and is currently revered as a Servant of God.
The following music video was produced as part of The Project: Martyrs Prayers. Accompanying this is a three-part podcast examining the life and message of Father Romero by Bishop Christopher Coyne of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. The podcasts are available here (Part 1: Introduction, Part 2: Present Reality of Martyrdom, Part 3: Ancient/Modern Understanding of Martyrdom).
Musician- Michael Glen Bell
Film Maker- Owen Thomas
More information on The Project: Martyrs Prayers.
“Then he (Jesus) appointed seventy others and sent them ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go… heal the sick and proclaim that the kingdom has come near.” (Luke 10:1-9)
Throughout history, God has called certain individuals or groups to become trail blazers, pioneers, explorers, discoverers, entrepreneurs, the avant garde
of the march towards the future. Today, January 24, we celebrate the feast of Florence Li Tim Oi, the first woman to be ordained in the worldwide Anglican Communion. (Click to Tweet
) We also read about the calling of the seventy disciples to go ahead of Jesus to announce that the kingdom of God has come near.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is best known for his accomplishments in the area of civil rights and fighting against injustice. He will always be remembered as a “drum major for justice” and as a man who had a dream of equality for all. What many do not know is that along with being an activist King was a theologian. King’s activism was rooted in a theology that was rich and deep and drew upon a variety of sources. Let’s take a look at what influenced one of the greatest Americans of all time.
Scot McKnight, a NT professor, recently published a small book, it is more like an article, regarding the subject of women in ministry. I found a very brief summary of the article this morning on his blog, and I am re-posting it here for some questions and discussion. His argument is as follows:
The complementarians [those opposed to women in ministry] like to shift their footings when it comes to Junia. They want to find some argument on which they can stand to diminish the significance of the woman [Junia].
First, they argued she wasn’t a woman (Junia) but a man (Junias). The evidence disproved them so thoroughly even they gave in (or most of them gave in) and so they shifted to another footing to stand their argument on… Continue reading
In 635, a Syrian monk named Alopen arrived in the Chinese capital. A monument was placed in 781, called the Nestorian Stele was a nine-foot limestone covered with inscription. It details the teachings of the Christian community as well as describes Alopen and his students. Nearly 150 years after his arrival, it is impossible to know what was originally in Alopen’s message and what was elaborated by the Chinese who became Christians. These inscriptions present a fairly orthodox understanding of Jesus, yet express that orthodoxy in distinctive ways that would resonate with the religious plurality of Asia at this time. Besides the text, there is the imagery of a cross emerging from a lotus blossom, demonstrating how the Christian message can grow from the existence of ancient Eastern religions. Continue reading
Jesus said, “I am the rock, the paper, and the scissors.” -Unvirtuous Abbey (via Twitter)
The twitter-group describe themselves as “Digital monks praying for people with first world problems. From our keyboard to God’s ears.” They take humorous (and hopeful) jabs at life and faith that can be at-times both illuminating and scathing.
The quote I pulled from my tweed (twitter feed, I have abbreviated) stood out to me as an example of using contemporary formulations to breath new life into a Biblical interpretation.
When I read the tweet, I imagined the totality of Christ– fully encompassing all aspects of creation. (Okay, that was a bit of a departure from what may have been simply an off-hand quip.)
Paul describes Christ to the Colossians saying… Continue reading