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.