In the short two weeks that I’ve been blogging in this space, I’ve tried to strike an approachable tone that, even in disagreement, fosters dialogue and reflection. In short, even as I catalogue my ascent (descent?) towards a progressive expression of Christianity, I have hoped to keep ruffled feathers at a minimum. My aim has been to recount more so than it has been persuade.
If this post does some ruffling, so be it.
Today is the day we celebrate the life and accomplishments of Martin Luther King Jr. And I don’t pretend to be the appropriate voice to offer commentary on the gravity of his achievements and the ongoing importance of his legacy. There are better voices for that, a few of which I will share below.
But as we approach a political turning point in our country, with the unrest of Fergusson, Dallas, and Charlotte still fresh on our minds, I think it’s important that we do justice to Dr. King’s legacy and approach the ongoing need for change and healing with his words fresh on our minds.
“History,” wrote King, in the still very relevant Letter from a Birmingham Jail, “is the long and tragic story of the fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily.”
As so as someone who sits in the seat of privilege, who has benefited from my whiteness, my maleness, my straightness, and my Christianity for my entire life, today is a day for listening, for lament. Today I celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King with a sober mind, refusing to rest on self-congratulatory progress, be it real or imagined. Today I step aside and allow God to speak from the margins.
For as one of my favorite public theologians, Broderick Greer, stated recently, “there are no voiceless people; only people who are ignored. If I’m a ‘voice for the voiceless’, I’m preventing someone from speaking.”
At some point I will use this space to talk more about the intersection of faith and racial reconciliation. And I hope I will use that opportunity to elevate the voices of those less otherwise heard. But today I’m going to listen to those voices, doing my best not to minimize, appropriate, or de-center their pain.
Today is not for me.
Today is not about me.
Today is not mine.
If you would like to listen along with me today, here are a few places to start:
Here is a powerful reflection on Martin Luther King with Trump’s inauguration looming.
James Cone, himself one of America’s most important theologians, on why King should top the list as America’s best theological thinker.
The Twitter profile of Broderick Greer, one of the most important voices in my life. If you have Twitter, follow Broderick.
The Twitter profile of Daniel Jose Camacho, author of the second linked article, and another important voice for me.
This is an incredibly important podcast concerning racial reconciliation that every person should listen to. If you don’t have time to read what I’ve shared, or if you don’t want to, or if you read it and it offended you, or even if you read it and loved it, listen to this.
There are countless other blogs, articles, and podcasts I could share. And as I alluded to above, in the future I will take the time to do just that.
These are the ones that I’m contemplating today. If you’ve come across something that is resonating with you, please don’t hesitate to share.