Monday, January 16, 2012

Confessions on MLK Day

OK, I'm not going to confess.  I started to confess the way I used to feel about MLK day, growing up as a standard issue American fundamentalist.  It sounded so bad that I couldn't do it.  Suffice it to say, for those in the image of my former self, there will be only snide remarks and grumbling around many a "Christian" dinner table and house.

I believe that there is a disconnect between the way many of these individuals would treat any individual African-American and the way they "feel" about a day like today culturally and politically.

I offer just two thoughts.

1. Today is not just about one individual, MLK.  It's about years and years of injustice to African Americans.  Can anyone seriously deny it?  Does anyone really want to argue that slavery was just? Does anyone really want to argue that making blacks drink from a different water fountain or sit in the back of the bus was right?

We grumbled during the civil rights era. Those protesters weren't law abiding citizens, after all.  And we were wrong, plain and simple. I remain convinced after making the comment many times that a lot of our quest to elect people who will put "good judges" on the Supreme Court is not really about what we say it is (abortion) but residual resentment for being forced to integrate in the 60's by judges.

It's worth a day to remember the sins of the past, isn't it?  I certainly think so.  It's not that we shouldn't move on with even handed lives today.  It's not that it would be healthy to feel like anyone owes anyone anything (that doesn't help us move forward).  It's about remembering so that no one repeats or perpetuates the past.  It's about continuing to address the inequalities that still exist in all sorts of areas and defying them as we move forward.

2. I believe Jesus would fully participate in today. There are all sorts of issues that many of us grumble about that we collect under the heading "political correctness." Despite the fact that "we all know" political correctness is bad, I frankly have a hard time seeing much wrong with its level headed version.  That's basically being sensitive to those who are disadvantaged or tend to be excluded in our culture.  Just because some might overdo it doesn't negate the general principle.

And the general principle has Jesus written all over it. Jesus was not an "anti-liberal" conservative prophet. Wow, who can really understand Jesus at all and think of him that way?! Jesus was about including those who weren't included and about not letting rules trump people.

There was one very significant Easter morning in college when I read through Galatians and realized Ken the fundamentalist was not on the Paul side of things... and he wasn't on the Jesus side of things either. It would be funny if it weren't so serious that so many of us Christians are so completely convinced of so many intuitions that are quite different from Jesus' own values.

Jesus would work for equal status and opportunity for everyone. Those who overdo it are thus closer to Jesus than those who resist because... frankly I can't think of a good "because" even to suggest.  Some misguided sense of justice?

If you are tempted to make fun of today, ask yourself if Jesus would do it.  Then go somewhere and talk to him about it.


Angie Van De Merwe said...

Whenever one starts with any agenda one can negate seeing things from another's perspective, because we are so focused on attaining our goals. Personal considerations or personal goals die in this environment. It is the basis of what social psychologists term "herd behavior". And though it can accomplish much in organizations, it also is the behavior of tribes that cut one another's heads off.

"Herd behavior" was prevalant in the '60's during the Civil Rights movement, because social norms were being challenged. But, Martin Luther King did not seek to impose any agenda with specified means to attain such a goal, except to protest it.

Such "herd behavior" is now what matters in "politically correct" segments of society where certain groups have rights at the disadvantage of others. Which one gets the "worm" is the one who cries loudest, has the biggest stick or has the political connections to make for a "priviledged status". Corporations have been maligned for eons as a "priviledged segment" of society.

Today, though I find that it is a "socialized agenda" from the top that priviledges a certain race above others, the African American. (at least this is why the NAACP has been upset by Obama's lack of getting monies to support their priviledges, other than Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.)...

I get weary of power grabs over the common citizen in these cases, as it becomes a political game that diminishes and demoralizes the avereage citizen, who works to pay his taxes and provide for his family. The law abiding citizen seems to have no rights or priviledge, only demands upon their lives, for promoting "group think"....

Anonymous said...

im so glad that you know what is on the mind for real in any person who talks about supreme court justices. wow, your amazing

Ken Schenck said...

Anon, I was once much like you, except I never had an attitude about it.

JohnM said...

I'm glad for what MLK did. I have personal reasons to be glad for what MLK did. That said, I think it might be better if the day were called 'Civil Rights Day'.

For one thing, you're right, it's not just about one individual - MLK wasn't the first or the only one in the march. It would be good to hear more said about the many others who swam against the tide, often at great personal sacrifice. For another thing the issue of civil rights is much broader than just the African American struggle for social equality and when we talk about it no one should be content to allow the issue to be defined as narrowly as that. If fact if we were to talk more about civil rights in a broader context maybe more Americans would come to appreciate the good the MLK's of of the world have done for all of us.

But yes, the story of civil rights in America is about the black struggle against injustice too, our history is what it is, MLK was a flag bearer and he did the good he did at the ultimate personal sacrifice, so...ok.

However, you said "I remain convinced after making the comment many times that a lot of our quest to elect people who will put "good judges" on the Supreme Court is not really about what we say it is (abortion) but residual resentment for being forced to integrate in the 60's by judges." - And I'm convinced you are mistaken on that point. It is about abortion. It may even be a mistake to be so singularly 'about abortion', but the (fundamentally right) sentiment does exist without reference to integration.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Thomas Jefferson that the smallest minority in the world was an individual, yet we see group identificatons in our country such that people can't think straight. If someone doesn't grant special priviledge or questions the results of special priviledge, they are immediately called racist. Yet, if similar group identification, such as blonde hair and blue eyes, as in Nazi Germany, is that NOT the SAME? What about when corporations count themselves as "persons", is that discrimination against individual human beings? No one should be granted special priviledge over and above what the Constitution and the Bill of Rights grants, and that should be enough...

Angie Van De Merwe said...

The difference between Nazi Germany and the Civil Rights Movement, of course is obvious. The "in group" was the specially priviledged, while the Civil Rights Movement called for a change in our Constitution, as to the 'human" slave.

But, the use of "group identifications' to divide our nation is pitiful, when we have to much in this country.

I am hoping that our over extension abroad does not make us like France, before the French Revolution!

Ken Schenck said...

Perhaps I shouldn't have mentioned the Supreme Court issue as it clouds the post. My thinking here is connected to rhetoric about "strict constructionism" and states rights and legislating from the bench. All this rhetoric is directed against the kind of supreme court philosophy of the era that produced not only Roe vs. Wade but the civil rights decisions.

Under the moniker of abortions, Christians have been seeking out judges not who could make a decision about abortion but who would send the issue back to the individual states. My argument is that the wave this rhetoric is riding is the same wave that resented the judicial philosophy that brought us desegregation.

The Circuit Rider said...

Amen and Ouch

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Isn't the whole "mess" over State's rights about the right to succeed, during the Civil War? The issue divides the country over abortion.

When one believes in the right of choice, or civil liberty, which brought about the liberty of the slaves, wouldn't such (to be consistant) want to promote civil liberties concerning "the personal"? I just read an interesting "background" about how marriage changed in our legal system granting more power to the State, versus "the personal". Here it is;

I am still muddling through analyzing what I'm learning, but it seems that law is a means to limit civil liberties, which is about personal freedome and responsibility...but LOOK at how it is and has been re-defined!!!

Angie Van De Merwe said...

The article might be offensive to some who support Newt Gingrich, but please be patient to put away party/political bias to read through the article. This is what caught my eye, as as result, and a dangerous one, I believe...

"Through the process, family law was federalized; the “means-test” (you can only be involved in welfare programs if your income is low) and limits to government intrusion (you are only involved if you are receiving public support) evaporated. Because of federalization, family law was reclassified from civil law to social policy. Constitutional rule collapsed. The United States was transformed into a welfare state in which government could not only enforce what were previously regarded as “personal” responsibilities, they could arbitrarily define them. (This is also how the institution of marriage, previously established as a "sacred private institution," met its legal demise.)"

Why is it dangerous? The Church and State became entwined, without understanding there were reasons why to separate Church and State (OR SOCIETY AND GOVERNMENT). The State was never to intrude into areas of religious conscience, which has to do with marriage and the family.

Anonymous said...

One i would say we have never been alike and I thank God that im not like you. two you obviously have an attitude beginning with one of complete arrogance.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

No one was trying to be arrogant here, if you were addressing me, as well as Ken, then I would say that "tacit consent" is usually for the political class to carry out plans that might not altogether be "transparent". "Tacit consent" is part of the "social contract", as it allows the policy makers to make decisions without always checking back with "the people".

My concern is how federal power can make demands on personal arenas. We obviously see this in "Healthcare Reform", or when governemnt tells what we can eat, etc. This is the beginning of evils, but not neccessary evils like most would have us believe.

I like Newt's debate last night, from the little I saw (we had our grandchildren)...and I think he did make some headway back in the '90s. My concern again is with a "political class" that doesn't seem to be "in touch" with the "personal lives and issues" of the average American citizen.

Ken Schenck said...

Arrogance did not come naturally for me. I have had to work very hard at it and only have managed it of late ;-)

Angie Van De Merwe said...

THEREFORE, because the "consent of the governed" is neccessary to maintain a free society, it is important to allow for choice concerning areas of private considerations such as marriage and family.

The pro-choice movement believes that it is a "movement for life", that is, a political life, where liberty reigns as the over-arching message/theme to and about government.

A woman's emotional, physical, and future well-being depend on making allowances for choice. Otherwise, while our country is about to go bankrupt, Christians argue over birth control!!! How will life be defined and by whom, is really the debate. Government? the woman? the Church? the State? science? society?

As every debate is argued and justified by different means, and many have good arguments. That is, UNLESS, one wants to say that The Pope in Rome, or the "Fathers" of the Greek Orthodox Church or God RULES OVER ALL DETAILS OF and EVERY ASPECT Of our lives, it is much more likely that there is a better and worse way to defend a particular position.

Practically speaking, if we want to maintain a civil society that protects lberty of conscience, then, should we seek to legislate what should be personal? OR should we determine which authority is to define "life", when there are so many various authorities?

Is the Church any less "powerful" if it holds to its views on and about "life", birth control, and abortion as a denominaton, just as it does on other areas of faith?

Angie Van De Merwe said...

So the courts passed Roe, vs. Wade to protect the woman's privacy right, and has changed its position about what limits abortion rights.

I'm sure most Christians that hold to a "Pro Life" stance also hold to the right of parental priviledge n choosing their child's education, or the right to choose one's mate apart from government stipulations about race.... and while gender is not stipulated by the courts as a right, it will be the upcoming issue that faces our courts.

Then, the Church can determine for itself across denominatonal lines where they will stand concerning civil unions for same sex marriages.