Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Stride Toward Freedom

Beacon Press, the publishing arm of the Unitarian Universalist Association, is bringing out the collected works of Martin Luther King, Jr.

I have to confess that until this weekend I had never read more than speeches by Rev. Dr. King. I couldn't put "Stride to Freedom" down, and read it cover to cover in two sittings.

It is his telling of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. It was gripping. More than 50,000 people stayed off the Montgomery buses for more than a year. It was led by African American ministers and their congregations, who often faced personal violence, harassment, and arrest. It was a mass movement of people saying "ENOUGH" and standing up for their freedom at great personal cost.

Now, of course, I knew something about this, but I was deeply moved and inspired by this book, and it's starting me thinking about how in today's world, the movement towards full inclusion of LGBT people is at a similar "tipping point." This past weekend, as I participated in Minneapolis Pride and even attended a Kathy Griffin concert, I was moved to see the diversity of people supporting full inclusion. Holly Near is right: "we are gay and straight together and we are singing, singing for our lives." I have no doubt that if he were alive, Dr. King would be working with us on these issues. He writes in this book, "the inseparable twin of racial justice is economic justice." I would amend it to say that "racial justice, sexual justice, and economic justice are inseparable triplets." (Oh, I think I need to tweet that!)

I loved this quote from the book, as it also describes the ministry I hope I am doing in the world:

"Religion deals with both earth and heaven, both time and eternity. Religion operates not only on the vertical plane but also on the horizontal...any religion that professes to be concerned with the soul of men and is not concerned with the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them, and the social conditions that cripple them is as dry-as-dust religion."

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