The Thing about MLK’s Bible…

MLK preaching in church

He knew what it said.

Martin Luther King, Jr., had received a thoroughgoing education. His education began with the Scriptures, included extensive study of history and philosophy, and ended with the Scriptures. He followed the vocation of a churchman. He lived in church–reading, hearing, contemplating, and trying to explain the Bible.

He knew the contents of the Bible. When he thought, he thought about things that he had read in the Bible. When his prodigious imagination churned, and he envisioned the future and the path toward it, what was churning around in there? In his mind’s eye? All the things that he had read, and re-read, in the Holy Bible.

Below you will find extensive citations from his most famous speeches, by which I try to demonstrate the truth of what I have just asserted. Please read.

Before that, I hope you will forgive me for briefly pointing this out: Today I have read widespread comparisons between Barack Obama and Martin Luther King, Jr. I make no moral comparisons between the two. I simply point out this one fact:

When Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke, he expressed the contents of the Holy Bible. Simple fact. For good or ill, that’s what he did. And Dr. King himself would be the first to tell you that such was his mission in life. To know and to express the Bible.

MLK Time magazineBarack Obama does not do this. Simple fact. As I said, I make no moral judgment in pointing this out. It’s just a fact. Barack Obama can put his hand on any man’s Bible, as many times as he wants. But when he speaks, the Bible does not speak. Simple fact.

Ergo, the two men, MLK and the President, are not similar. Yes, they are both black. But in this all-important respect (ie., the “Biblicality” of their speech) they are not similar.

Before the quotations, let me add one more thing: Martin Luther King, Jr., succeeded enormously in his endeavor. Why?

He was a good-looking, charismatic man, with a voice of stunning clarity and power. He came along at the precise historic moment when television made it possible for everyone to see him and listen to him. And everyone could see how the people who followed his leadership suffered righteously and peaceably, and those who harmed them were violent villains.

All these factors, however, are externals. Martin Luther King never would have succeeded if he were solely a good-looking man who managed to get himself on television. What people saw when they saw him: that’s the heart of the matter. And they saw nonviolence. They saw peacefulness, love. The quiet confidence of genuine righteousness.

And where did this come from? Is the answer not as clear as day? From Jesus Christ. Martin Luther King loved the Scriptures because he loved Jesus Christ. If Martin Luther King is a great man, it is for one, single reason: because he lived as an eminent servant of Jesus Christ.

From “Birth of a New Nation” (Montgomery, Alabama, spring 1957)

Continue reading “The Thing about MLK’s Bible…”

Hey hey ho ho in Washington

This year, Martin Luther King day will be observed six days after what would have been his 84th birthday. And, in fact, its observance coincides with Inauguration Day. And of course March for Life Day is four days after that.

So let’s talk civics, and rights, and politics for a minute. Let’s talk Washington, D.C. subjects. Lincoln-Memorial, Supreme-Court-building subjects.

us_supreme_courtLet’s presume that all of us will be marching For Life next Friday, either physically marching, or accompanying the March spiritually with prayers and support.

Why? How do we explain what we will be doing?

1. Killing an innocent and defenseless human being is wrong. But cheating on a seventh-grade vocab. quiz is also wrong, too, and we don’t march about that.

Abortion is not just wrong; it’s criminally wrong. When the Supreme Court declared on January 22, 1973, that no state of the Union could outlaw abortion, that was one of the gravest legal mistakes ever made by mankind. Forty years of advancement in gynecology, obstetrics, and neonatology has only made the Supreme Court’s decision that day look all the more blind.

2. We live in a free country. Free in a relative sense, of course; not absolutely free. I do not have the freedom, as a US citizen, to walk across an ice-covered parking lot with no fear of falling down on my tuckus. I do not have the freedom to do whatever I want whenever I want to do it, with no thought regarding the welfare of others.

But we do have the freedom to travel to the front door of the Supreme Court and yell, Hey hey, ho ho, Roe v. Wade has got to go.

mlk_photoIt’s got to go because it’s wrong. It is wrong by any honest standard of judgment.

When Martin Luther King took a stand against the degradation of an entire race of people, based on their skin color alone, he appealed to the same fact:

By any honest standard of judgment, it’s wrong to degrade a fellow human being, just because he or she is black.

Dr. King never said all black people are good. He never said all black people are going to heaven. He just appealed to the basic principle of honest judgment. Can anyone honestly say that just because someone is black, they’re no good, or less good—just because of that? No. Can anyone honestly say that it’s okay to kill a baby in the womb? No.

Dr. King quoted the Bible all the time. But you didn’t need a Bible to grasp his fundamental point. And you don’t need a Bible to know that Roe v. Wade has got to go. You don’t need a Bible to know that anyone who pressures a woman to have an abortion is a villain. To stand up against Roe v. Wade is to stand up for women, as well as for unborn babies.

There are plenty of forces at work in our country to “ghettoize” our Catholic Church, to make Catholicism seem foreign, strange, and murky. We know, of course, that it is none of these things.

And one of the best ways of showing it is to appeal to the fundamental principle of honest judgment, just like Martin Luther King did, when it comes to the innocent and defenseless unborn.

JP II Collect and Vigils

Just in case you’re not a Catholic blog-o-maniac and thus have not been apprised that this:

O God, who are rich in mercy and who willed that the blessed John Paul the Second should preside as Pope over your universal Church, grant, we pray, that instructed by his teaching, we may open our hearts to the saving grace of Christ, the sole Redeemer of mankind. Who lives and reigns…

is the prayer we will say to commemorate our beloved late Holy Father on the anniversary of his inauguration as Supreme Pontiff, October 22. At Vigils, we will read a portion of the homily he gave at his inauguration Mass.

Uneasy Lies the Head

rick-warren2The President did not invite any Catholic clergy to pray at his inauguration.

It is his prerogative to invite whomever he chooses. Nonetheless, I can promise you this much: It would have been shorter.

Compare the customary lengthy Protestant table prayers with “Bless us, O Lord, and these they gifts…”

Continue reading “Uneasy Lies the Head”

The Irony of the Lincoln Bible

The Lincoln Bible
The Lincoln Bible
Some bloggers seem to relish being killjoys. I do not. I am not trying to rain on anyone’s parade, especially his inaugural parade.

I googled like mad in the hopes that some better writer had already made the following points. Alas, my searches came to naught.

So I am duty-bound to make the following points myself.

At his inauguration, Barack Obama will lay his hand on the same Bible that President Abraham Lincoln used when he took the oath of office in 1861.

I leave to others the consideration of whether this is a presumptuous and grandiose gesture on Mr. Obama’s part. Or if it will be a beautiful moment when he lays a black hand on the Bible used by the Emancipator of the slaves. Neither of these is my topic.

I just want to point out the following irony involved in using the Lincoln Bible: Abraham Lincoln did not believe in the Bible.

Continue reading “The Irony of the Lincoln Bible”

St. Paul will Guide Us through the Week

Gerald Henderson smoked us.
Gerald Henderson smoked us.
Please bear with me.

There are few things more painful to your preacher than watching Duke beat Georgetown. I would rather be beaten up by deranged Mormon missionaries.

For about ten minutes during the first half, it looked like Georgetown could actually win the game. Then things fell apart.

Monroe got in foul trouble, including a mysterious technical foul. Gerald Henderson scored three points every time he touched the ball. Summers played a great game but could not make his free throws. And poor Jessie Sapp was joined by Chris Wright on some planet in another solar system where no one ever scores any points.

Anyway, enough bellyaching. God is good, no matter what happens. Here is today’s homily…

penn-aveBrothers and sisters, we have an eventful week ahead of us. On Tuesday, our 44th President will be inaugurated. Before, that—tomorrow—we will observe the 80th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King lived and died to vindicate the human rights of the weak and oppressed. That is why we keep a national holiday in honor of his birth.

Our eventful week will continue on Thursday with the March for Life. We will march for the same cause that Dr. King fought for—the rights of the weakest and most defenseless people.

But there is more. Next Sunday, we will keep one of the main feasts of the Year of St. Paul. January 25 is the feast of the Apostle’s conversion to Christ.

Continue reading “St. Paul will Guide Us through the Week”