Posted by: morgan1965 | July 3, 2018

Racism & The Fourth of July

The Fourth of July is an annual celebration with important historical roots. It is the day when we celebrate American Independence Day. This day represents the Declaration of Independence and the birth of the United States of America as an independent nation. It was on July 4, 1776 that the Continental Congress approved the final wording of the Declaration of Independence. The American Revolution had started in April 1775.

The Declaration in part says: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…” This declaration did not include black Americans, neither free nor slave, either philosophically or in practical terms.

The Revolutionary War did not include black people in the armies until about 1776. The necessity of manpower compelled the states to begin using black troops and sailors. The historical record reveals that Negro enlistment, from colonial times until the twentieth century, would be skipped in the initial stages of armed conflict. When black folk served in the military, they served in segregated units.

On July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglas delivered his now famous oration: “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” In his speech Douglas, a former slave, said: “The existence of slavery in this country brands your republicanism as a sham, your humanity as a base pretense, and your Christianity as a lie. It destroys your moral power abroad; it corrupts your politicians at home. It saps the foundation of religion; it makes your name a hissing and a bye-word to a mocking earth. It is the antagonistic force in your government, the only thing that seriously disturbs and endangers your Union. It fetters your progress; it is the enemy of improvement, the deadly foe of education; it fosters pride; it breeds indolence; it promotes vice; it shelters crime; it is a curse to the earth that supports it; and yet, you cling to it, as if it were the sheet anchor of all your hopes. Oh! Be warned! Be warned! A horrible reptile is coiled up in your nation’s bosom; the venomous creature is nursing at the tender breast of your youthful republic; for the love of God, tear away, and fling from you the hideous monster, and let the weight of twenty millions crush and destroy it forever!”

Douglas went on to point out that what he denounced was “guaranteed and sanctioned by the Constitution of the United States; that the right to hold and to hunt slaves is a part of that Constitution framed by the illustrious Fathers of this Republic.” So, Frederick Douglas posed a profound query: “What to the slave is the Fourth of July?” The Fourth of July celebration at that time was a day of “Mourning” for slaves and former slaves like himself. It was a sad reminder of the unfulfilled promise of equal liberty for all that is couched in the Declaration of Independence.

Even after the progress that has been made to establish liberty for all people, black and white, is The Fourth of July a day of celebration, not only for white Americans, but also for black Americans and other people of color?

The reality is that slavery has been abolished, but racism still abounds in America. Racism has a variety of manifestations in modern day America. Here are a few current examples: Waiting for a meeting at Starbucks; Golfing; Barbecuing; Napping in a common area of one’s dorm; and Moving into your own home. A recent Huffington Post article was titled, “People Questioned, Filmed and Called Police On Black Oakland Firefighter. This firefighter was in uniform and carrying a clipboard while performing an annual fire inspection of houses. His fire truck was parked nearby.

What does the Fourth of July mean to you in 2018? What does the Fourth of July mean for America?

Think about it?

Let’s celebrate the Fourth of July with a renewed commitment to end racism in America.

 

 

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Posted by: morgan1965 | June 16, 2018

The Silence Of Eternity Interpreted By Love

The hymn, “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind” [The UM Hymnal, #358] has always been a meaningful hymn to me. Recently, while reading the verses, I was drawn to the phrase, “The silence of eternity interpreted by love.” I have been pondering this phrase over the years, so I decided to spend a bit of time grappling with its meaning.

This particular phrase is couched in the third verse of the hymn:

“O sabbath rest by Galilee,

O calm of hills above,

Where Jesus knelt to share with thee

The silence of eternity,

Interpreted by love!”

The hymn is a dynamic prayer hymn where God is acknowledged as the creator of humankind.

Let’s first take a look at the hymn’s author, John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892). Whittier was a poet who did not consider himself to be a hymnist. As a Quaker, his religion influenced his life and his writing. He became a strong advocate of the abolition of slavery. He eventually became Secretary of the American Anti-Slavery Society. The Quakers, of course, were at the center of the abolitionist movement.

It was a Quaker practice to worship God in silent meditation. This was in contrast to the emotionalism connected with the Evangelical movement and the associated revivalism. In the hymn he says, “Dear Lord and Father of mankind, forgive our foolish ways.” This is a not so subtle knock on emotionalism in worship. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that “some folk have more religion in their hands and their feet than they have in their heads and hearts.”

The hymn celebrates several qualities of faithful devotion and piety – “deeper reverence,” “purer lives,” and “simple trust.” Whittier advocated for simplicity and purity in worship. The hymn celebrates the virtue of silence and humility in the presence of God. Such a posture will enable the one praying to discern God’s will for that moment in their life.

The key phrase for me is the notion that the “silence of eternity” can be “interpreted by love.” What kind of love is this? Paul described this love when he said: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things; believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues they will cease, as for knowledge, it will come to an end.” (I Corinthians 13:4-8)

Can you picture Jesus in a quiet place, appreciating the silence that surrounds him? In our private devotional life, if not in our churches, we have the opportunity to engage in the silence that is available to us by going to a quiet place and shutting out all the distracting sounds. Such a practice could become a rich spiritual discipline.

Our daily living and being can be transformed by “the silence of eternity interpreted by love.” It was that way for Jesus. It was that way for Martin Luther King, Jr. It can be that way for you and me too.

Thing about it! “Jesus loves me.”

Pray about it!! “For the Bible tells me so.”

Experience it!!! “This I know.”

 

 

Posted by: morgan1965 | May 26, 2018

The United Methodist Church: Finding Our Way

The Commission on a Way Forward, at the request of the Council of Bishops, has done good work on behalf of the whole United Methodist Church. Thy have submitted their recommendations to the COB and the COB has now prepared its report to the special session of the General Conference that will meet in February 2019. All of this work is a part of the faithful effort to determine a way forward that will enable the denomination to maintain unity in the church. Our ultimate unity, of course, is in Jesus Christ. The path to unity is through Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is the way. In a conversation with Jesus, Thomas noted that the disciples did not know the place where Jesus was going, so they did not know the way. Jesus replied: “I am the way, and the life, and the truth.” (See John 14:1-7)

In a practical sense it is never easy to find the way, whether geographical or spiritual. At this time in the life of the UMC, we are striving to find our spiritual way. In other words, what is the way that God is calling the United Methodist Church to follow? Where is the place that God wants us to land, and what is the path to get there?

The Children of Israel did not know the way that God wanted them to go on the journey out of Egypt. So, God showed them the way: “The Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, so that they might travel by day and night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.” (Exodus 13:21-22) Their successful journey required the people to listen to God. They had to follow God’s directions.

The disciples wanted to follow Jesus, so they had to go by way of Jerusalem, and tarry in the Upper Room for a season of prayer. That season of prayer was followed by the Day of Pentecost. Mindful of this scenario, I am pleased to join with other United Methodists as we pray together, asking God to lead the UMC on the way forward.

As I pray, I am reminded of a verse from Charles A. Tindley’s hymn, “We’ll Understand It Better By and By.”

“Trials dark on every hand, and we cannot understand,

All the ways that God would lead us to that blessed Promised Land;

But he guides us with God’s eye, and we’ll follow till we die.”

In all that we do and say it is important that we discern God’s will, and determine to follow God’s will and way. It is helpful to remember that God has a variety of ways of leading us along the spiritual path.

The hymn, “Gather Together, Sing as One” (Beth E. Hanson) is a wonderful prayer hymn for the present moment in the UMC. Ponder the third stanza:

“Hear us, O Lord, as we now pray,

dedicate us to your way;

lead us to work that bears your fruit,

giving knowledge of your truth.

Open our door and enter in,

rescue from darkness and from sin.

Strengthen according to your might,

share with us the promised life.”

 

As I pray, I ask, God of Light,

Open our eyes and help us to see your truth as we discern your way.

Open our ears and aid us in hearing your truths along the way.

Open our hearts, and flood us with your love. Amen.

Think About It, and Start Praying!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: morgan1965 | April 5, 2018

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: An Author Of Community

We honor and give thanks for the birth, life and death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who was assassinated fifty years ago on April 4, 1968. Dr. King was struck down by an assassin’s bullet, as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. He had gone to Memphis to stand in solidarity with the city’s sanitation workers who were on strike in an effort to secure higher wages and better working conditions. The provocative dreamer’s voice was silenced, but the content of his dream was given a renewed voice in the conscience of America.

In 1967, one year before his death, Dr. King published his last book titled, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos Or Community?” In this book, Dr. King offered an analysis of the state of American race relations. He offered an in-depth diagnosis of the civil rights movement over the previous ten years. Major gains had been achieved on the civil rights front: the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Dr. King, however, was well aware of the persistence of racism in America and the need to continue the struggle.

Although King’s leadership and methodology were being challenged by black nationalism and the Black Power movement at that time, Dr. king continued to be optimistic about the effectiveness and appropriateness of “mass nonviolent action and the ballot.” King ended the book with these words: “We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation. This may well be mankind’s last chance to choose between chaos and community.”

Faithfully, until his untimely death, Dr. King preached a message of hope. He wanted to see an end to war, and an end to poverty, and an end to racial injustices. He firmly believed that humankind possessed the resources and the technology to eradicate poverty and to corral global suffering in its many manifestations.

Here we stand today, asking Dr. King’s question: “Where do we go from here: chaos or community?

In the aftermath of Dr. King’s assassination, riots broke out in dozens of cities across the nation. There was utter chaos.

Now as then, racism abounds across the land. Poverty continues to increase. Mass incarceration is a growing dilemma in the African American community. Unarmed black males continue to be the victims of police action. Has the King dream turned into a nightmare?

Dr. King would not want us to give up hope, in spite of the rampant racism in our nation today. The life and legacy of Dr. King remind us that we are resurrection people. Dr. King was a resurrection person and he was a committed disciple of Jesus Christ. For him, the Resurrection of Jesus was no idle tale.

Dr. King lived and ministered as an Easter Person. As Easter People, we know that Jesus Christ is the “author of resurrected life.”

So, let us be about the privileged opportunity of living a resurrected life in community with our sisters and brothers. Let us be about the task of authoring community, while erasing chaos.

Think about it!

 

 

Posted by: morgan1965 | March 31, 2018

The Irony Of Easter & April Fool’s Day

Perhaps there is a bit of irony in the reality that Easter 2018 falls on a Sunday, April 1st. The discovery that Jesus had been raised from death to life occurred on the dawning of the Sabbath day. Mary Magdalene and her friend, Mary, went to see the tomb, but Jesus was not there. Jesus had been raised from the dead. It was Resurrection Sunday. At the empty tomb, the women encountered the resurrection power of an on-time God who had acted on the third day.

April 1st, regardless of what day of the week it falls on, is known as April Fool’s

Day, or All Fool’s Day. The day is characterized by people playing practical jokes or spreading hoaxes. If you are the victim of such a prank, you are called an April Fool.

The women, of course, were terrified after encountering the empty tomb. They immediately reported their experience to the remaining disciples. Luke’s gospel provides this report: “But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.” (Luke 24:11)

It was Peter who did not want to be played for a fool, so he got up and ran to the tomb to see for himself.  When he looked into the tomb, “he saw the linen cloths by themselves’ then he went home, amazed at what had happened.” (Luke 24:12b)

The report of Jesus’ resurrection was not a hoax, or some kind of sick joke. It was not an idle tale. It was truth. It was the resurrection story.

I am reminded of the song, “Everybody Plays the Fool.” Consider a portion of the lyrics:

“Okay, so your heart is broken

You sit around mopin’

Cryin’ and cryin’

You say you’re even thinkin’ about dyin’

Well, before you do anything rash, dig this”

“Everybody plays the fool sometime

There’s no exception to the rule…”

A weeping Mary Magdalene stood outside the tomb. When she bent over to peer into the tomb, she saw two angels sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying. She explained to the angels that she was weeping because her Lord had been taken away and she did not know his new location. She turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not recognize him. After a brief, but intense conversation, Mary Magdalene finally recognized Jesus. With joy and hope, she went and announced her encounter with Jesus to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord.”

When you accept Jesus as your Risen Lord and Savior, there is an exception to the rule. The disciples and the women were an exception to the rule. Ultimately, they were not fooled, because there was no hoax. They were not “April Fools.”

When we follow Jesus and serve God’s people, it is then that “we are fools for the sake Christ…” (I Corinthians 10a)

Have you seen the Lord?

Think about it!

Posted by: morgan1965 | March 29, 2018

A Tribute To Thelma: My “Big Sister”

I was blessed to have a “big sister,” Thelma Attrue Julia Lyght, who was the oldest of four siblings, two boys and two girls. I am the “baby” in the family.

On Friday, March 16, 2018 we celebrated Thelma’s 82 years of life at Ezion-Mt. Carmel United Methodist Church in Wilmington, Delaware. The celebration was a marvelous musical tribute that honored her as a church musician. Appropriately, her casket bore treble clef signs and sheaths of music, symbolizing her love of music and her devotion to church music.

Thelma learned to play the pipe organ, because our maternal grandfather provided the funds for Thelma to take private organ lessons, as a high school student in Atlantic City, New Jersey. We lived on Arctic Avenue and the church where she practiced was located several blocks away on Pacific Avenue. My frequent assignment was to accompany Thelma when she went to the church for practice and lessons. As an elementary school kid, one can imagine that I was not enamored of this task.

Going with her, of course, robbed me of some valuable time with my playmates after school. Also, during the winter season, the church was always cold. Not only was the church cold, it was big, empty and a little scary, even though the custodian was somewhere on the premises. Thelma’s diligence and faithfulness as an organ student had a precious reward.

On Thursday evening, June 18, 1953, I forgot about my lost time as I watched Thelma take part in her high school graduation ceremony. Our grandfather was there, and he was as proud as a peacock. That night in the Ballroom of the Atlantic City Convention Hall, Thelma played the recessional music for her senior class on the Midmen-Losh pipe organ. She played “Pomp and Circumstance” by Elgar and “War March of the Priests,” from “Athalia” by Mendelssohn. I too was very proud of my big sister. The Lyght family was very proud.

Another exciting moment came when Thelma and William, my big brother, both graduated from Morgan State University in 1958. I remember the picture of them that appeared in the “Baltimore Afro American” newspaper. The joy expressed on their faces inspired me as I followed in their footsteps, entering Morgan as a freshman in 1961. Thelma had majored in English and minored in music. She frequently served as a student assistant accompanist during Sunday chapel services at the Morgan Christian Center. During my years at Morgan, I served as an assistant to the chaplain during the Sunday worship services.

Thelma’s participation as student accompanist in college was preceded by the many times Thelma helped with the music as a teenager at our father’s churches. During her adult years, Thelma could be found helping with the music. Paid or unpaid, she was willing to serve.

I have fond memories of our life together. Thelma was a quiet presence, with a cheerful attitude. She loved to hear a good story or a funny joke. Although she would often erupt into body shaking laughter when hearing something funny, she was not one to tell jokes or funny stories herself. If she did not have something good to say about someone, she did not say anything.

When Thelma heard me preach a sermon, she would take notes. We often would have a conversation about my sermon, and she could tell me exactly what I had talked about, point by point.

Thelma loved God, and she loved the people of God. She loved the church and enjoyed participating in church activities, especially the annual Christian School of Missions sponsored by the Conference United Methodist Women.

It was her love of children that enabled Thelma to be a good tutor. She enjoyed helping students to develop their math and English skills.

When our father was in his most senior years, Thelma became his caregiver.

I thank God for the gift that Thelma was to our family, her church and her community. We will miss her, but we will hold onto our many fond memories.

 

 

 

 

Posted by: morgan1965 | February 24, 2018

Let’s Listen To The Children!

The most precious gift that humanity has are the children. Jesus clearly understood the importance and the significance of the children. He greatly valued children. On at least one occasion, folk were bringing their children to him so that he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. The disciples erroneously thought that Jesus did not have time for such an activity with the children. Jesus, however, said: “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” (Matthew 19:14)

On another day in the ministry of Jesus, the disciples informed Jesus that the people were hungry, but there was no food readily available in their rural setting. The disciples did find one young boy who had brought his lunch with him. Jesus took the fish and loaves of bread (the boy’s lunch) and prayed over them. The disciples then fed more than 5,000 people, with food left over. This boy was resourceful, and as far as we know, cooperative. He answered, yes, when queried about his food resources.

We have heard the proverb that has been used by adults to silence children. Proverb: “Children should be seen and not heard.” In 15th century religious culture, children were expected to remain silent unless an adult spoke to them or asked them to speak. The proverb suggests that children are naive, or uninformed about adult matters.

We live in a time and culture when and where it is essential that we listen to the children. They have a voice, opinions, fears, hopes and dreams. The poet, Arthur Vaso, wrote the poem, “Listen to the Children” (Posted on August 16, 2014). He says:

“We are all immigrants

We all have temporary residence here

This land is ours and theirs, yours and mine

We are humanity, stronger joined than apart

Never turn your back on a hungry child

You may be in the right

Lacking compassion

Makes you wrong

The disciples were scolded

Let the children come unto me he said

Life is filled with hardships, yes we all have suffered

So let your suffering hold some merit

Lay down your guns and loud voices

If only for the children

If you dance and celebrate for them

They shall lead you on to peace on earth

The Children’s Crusade of 1963 was a crucial event for the Civil Rights Movement. The demonstrations by the children opened the eyes of the nation and the world, because of the bold activism of the children and youth in Montgomery, Alabama. Although the children were treated harshly by the segregationists, their participation helped to turn the tide that led to certain gains in Montgomery and in the Civil Rights Movement.

The children (Youth) from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida are speaking (2018). Students across the country are speaking. They are speaking out against gun violence. They are speaking out against the assault rifle. They want more than our thoughts and prayers.

Listen to the children.

They are speaking out for life; yes, an opportunity to prepare for living life without fear of being killed at school.

Listen to the children.

The children are saying:

“We are the world,

We are the children

We are the ones who make a brighter day

So, let’s start giving

There’s a choice we’re making

We’re saving our own lives

It’s true we’ll make a better day

Just you and me. (Michael Jackson & Lionel Richie)

Think about it!

 

 

 

 

Posted by: morgan1965 | February 19, 2018

Presidents’ Day & The Common Good

During this 2018 President’s holiday weekend, I want to invoke some words from former President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, as I ponder my world view. Lincoln in part said: “…It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us. . .that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion. . . that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. . . that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom. . . and that government of the people. . .by the people. . .for the people. . . shall not perish from the earth.” I do not want us to lose focus on the words, “government of the people …by the people… for the people.”

When it comes to my world view, it matters not whether I am a democrat or a republican. It does matter that Jesus was neither a democrat, nor a republican. Jesus was one who loved all of humankind so much that he sacrificed his life for all of us, with no exclusions or exceptions.

President Lincoln sought to pursue the common good during his presidency. He presided over a nation engaged in a divisive civil war. His political and moral leadership, however, sought to preserve the union. From his perspective, the right thing to do was to preserve the union for all the people. It was not a matter of republicans and democrats, confederates and yankees, northerners and southerners. It was a matter of a democracy for all the people.

Have we lost the common core that embraces the common good? Some elements of the common good are water systems, highway systems, sewer systems, public transportation, electric grids, telephone grids, air transportation, Medicare, social security, Medicaid, public safety, the judicial system, etc. These are the right things for government to provide for the people. I cannot imagine these major systems being in private hands that are driven by the profit margin. In reality, life transcends the individual and includes all the people, the community. For the common good, society needs to strive to be on moral ground, and embrace the values that are good for all the people.

As a matter of human decency, politicians should strive to do what is right. Christian teachings provide the moral foundation for my world view and values. First, Micah 6:8 gives excellent guidance in determining the common good. “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Second, Jesus directs us to love God, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. This is the great commandment. We are to care for one another when and where there is a need.

Third, John Wesley outlined our task in plain language in the following quote attributed to him:

“Do all the good you can,

By all the means you can,

In all the ways you can,

In all the places you can,

At all the times you can,

To all the people you can,

As long as ever you can.”

These three dynamics inform my world view as a Christian. What about you?

As Christians, we help our neighbors through the church and a variety of nonprofit organizations. It is through the government, however, that we help huge segments of our population. It is our moral values that enable society to make right decisions on behalf of the common good.

Let’s take a brief look at the current example in the public eye, the Florida school shooting (17 persons murdered). What about the children? Does anybody care about our children? Will anyone do the right thing to protect our children, as well as all adults? My moral sense on behalf of the common good suggests that we should ban all assault rifles, ban all bump stocks, ban all assault rifle ammunition, and expand the background check protocol.

Let’s allow the conversation to begin by having all members of the House and Senate who have received campaign contributions from the NRA return those contributions. Also, the Congress can refuse to accept all such contributions in the future. These actions would benefit the common good.

Think About It!

 

An Open Letter to President Donald Trump

January 15, 2018

 

Dear President Trump:

Today, January 15, 2018, America is celebrating the 89th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, and fifteen years later (November 2, 1983) a national holiday was established to honor his legacy. Although Dr. King became somewhat of a legend in his own lifetime, his legacy cannot be denied or erased from our American history.

The King legacy is ensconced in the dynamic reality that he disrupted the segregationist norms of the nation. His demonstrations paralyzed and confused public and private power structures. With conviction, he practiced civil disobedience. Love was the regulating ideal for all that he did in leading the nonviolent protest movement in the effort to end racial segregation and discrimination in America.

I note, however, that last Thursday, in a meeting on immigration with lawmakers, it was reported that you made some racially charged comments that disparaged millions of people from Haiti, El Salvador and some African countries. This language, unfortunately, is an example of your failure to provide moral leadership. You seem to be more content to divide, rather than to unite America.

America, as you know, fought a divisive civil war over the issue of slavery. President Abraham Lincoln in a courageous move issued the Emancipation Proclamation which freed the slaves in those states that were in rebellion. After the war ended, slavery finally was banned by the ratification of the 13th amendment which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude (December 6, 1865). Slavery, however, was followed by Jim Crow laws, lynchings, segregation and discrimination in the private and public sectors of our nation.

Dr. King was chosen for leadership as African Americans began to renew the resistance to segregation and discrimination. One example was the Montgomery Bus Boycott which ended on December 21, 1957. This boycott was organized and conducted by the Montgomery Improvement Association under the presidency of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

During his years of leadership in the civil rights movement, Dr. King met with a variety of people, including the presidents of the United states. He and other civil rights leaders met with President Dwight D. Eisenhower in June 1958. It was President Eisenhower who sent in federal troops to enforce integration of the public schools in Little rock, Arkansas. Dr. King’s purpose in meeting with US presidents was to encourage them to utilize the moral persuasion of their office to end segregation and to use their political clout to gain appropriate civil rights legislation.

Dr. King met privately with Democratic Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy in June of 1960. On February 4, 1961, Dr. King published a letter (“The Nation”, February 4, 1961) to newly-elected President Kennedy and said: “An area in which the President can make a significant contribution toward the elimination of racial discrimination is that of moral persuasion. The President is the embodiment of the democratic personality of the nation, both domestically and internationally. His own personal conduct influences and educates.” In October 1961, Dr. King met with President Kennedy and urged him to issue a second Emancipation Proclamation to eliminate racial segregation. In his own way, President Kennedy helped to pave the way for the ultimate passing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

When President Lyndon B. Johnson took the presidential reigns from the late President Kennedy, he rose to the occasion and used the moral persuasion and political clout of the oval office, as well as his legislative savvy, to gain passage of the floundering Civil Rights Act.

Mr. President, in times like these, the nation needs moral leadership from the oval office. In Dr. King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” ((April 16, 1963), he noted that he had been labeled as an extremist. He countered that argument by referencing some folk who he believed were extremists. “Was not Abraham Lincoln an extremist? – ‘This nation cannot survive half slave and half free’.” “Was not Thomas Jefferson an extremist?” – ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal’.” When a leader does the right thing, that which is prophetic, he/she runs the risk of being labeled an extremist as in the case of Dr. King.

Dr. King went on to say: “…the question is not whether we will be extremist, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate, or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice, or will we be extremists for the cause of justice?” There are some Americans who want to know whether you are willing and able to be an extremist for right, for justice, for political and economic equality, and for the love of all God’s people?

Finally, Mr. President, you constantly express the desire to “make America great again.” In his now famous “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in this speech described what must happen “if America is to be a great nation.” A great nation is one where “we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.” I share these reflections with you in the spirit of passionate patriotism, abiding peace and devotion to my God and country.

Respectfully and Prayerfully,

ESL

 

Posted by: morgan1965 | January 11, 2018

Martin Luther King, Jr: The Epitome of Moral Leadership

Where are our moral leaders today?

America annually honors the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by observing his birthday (January 15, 1929) with a national holiday. Martin Luther King was reared in a Christian home. His father was a Baptist minister and his mother was a dedicated lay worker in the church. King and his siblings attended Sunday School regularly. His parents taught him basic moral standards which provided a solid foundation for the development of his personal ethical posture in life.

During his leadership of the modern civil rights movement, King who became an ordained Baptist minister, adopted two ethical/moral standards. First, he embraced love as the regulating ideal for the civil rights movement. Second, he utilized the technique of nonviolent resistance as a strategic tool for resisting the forces of racial segregation and discrimination. King, of course, was a Christian who sought to follow the teachings of Jesus in his public and private life.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. was preparing to give his “I Have a Dream” speech, A. Phillip Randolph introduced him as the “moral leader of our nation.” King gave his address while standing in the shadow of one of America’s great moral leaders, President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln used his moral leadership in the effort to preserve the union. A century later, King’s moral leadership was at the center of the civil rights movement and the effort to end racial segregation in America.

The nations of the world always have needed moral leaders. Reinhold Niebuhr in His book, “Moral Man And Immoral Society” (1932) argued that there is a “basic difference between the morality of individuals and the morality of collectives, whether races, classes or nations.” We see this concept play out when the U.S. Congress seeks to eliminate Obama Care or health care for the poor. Another example is a tax bill that further enriches the wealthy, rather than provide financial help for the poor and the middle class. It takes moral leaders to lead a political movement that seeks to do the right thing for the good of all the people in the nation.

Who are our moral leaders?

When we look at the world scene, we can identify several moral leaders in our history, past and present: Martin Luther King, Jr. Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter, Abraham Lincoln, Pope John Paul II, Desmond Tutu, Pope Francis, Bishop G. Bromley Oxnam and Fannie Crosby as well as others who could be named. Moral leaders lead from their core values that our couched in their faith. We need today’s moral leaders to stand up, and provide moral leadership.

Martin King’s letter (“The Nation,” February 4, 1961) to newly-elected President John F. Kennedy called for a more inclusive America. King envisioned that there would be strong moral leadership on the part of the president, and federal government that would take a stand for right. Among other things, King said: an “area in which the President can make a significant contribution toward the elimination of racial discrimination is that of moral persuasion. The President is the embodiment of the democratic personality of the nation, both domestically and internationally. His own personal conduct influences and educates. If he were to make it known that he would not participate in any activities in which segregation exists, he would set a clear example for Americans everywhere, of every age, on a simple, easily understood level.”

John F. Kennedy stood up as a moral leader and gave meaningful leadership in the civil rights arena. It is obvious that we are lacking this kind of moral leadership today in the executive branch and the legislative branch of our federal government. There are so many moral issues that face America: civil rights, voting rights, economic opportunities, etc. But who are our moral leaders? Please stand up, and give moral leadership.

Bishop William J. Barber (President, Repairers of the Breach) has called for a moral movement in America, and he is leading a campaign to coordinate a variety of state-based moral movements across the country. “Its overarching aim is to call on clergy, lay people and all people of conscience to join together to put a human face on poverty in this country, reawaken America to its higher moral purpose and build steadfast unity in defense of our most cherished Constitutional and moral traditions.” Such a movement will require our faithful participation in the places where we live, work, play and worship.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was born on January 15, 1929, and began the journey that brought him to a place of moral leadership in America. We thank God for Dr. King, the epitome of moral leadership.

But, where are our moral leaders today?

Think About It!

 

 

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