Tag Archives: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Jan 15 – Tomorrow is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Change is difficult, for us and for the collective. Unfortunately, when we make progress, it’s easy to assume that it will continue without our continued effort. No, we must not give up. Our efforts to sustain the progress is needed today and everyday going forward. It takes all of us to make a Beloved Community.

Today’s senryu: Tomorrow is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

listen to prophets,

become a prophet, and change

the future for good

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Thich Nhat Hanh statues in the Beloved Community Garden at Magnolia Grove Monastery https://magnoliagrovemonastery.org/photo-gallery/#bwg2/25

See today’s daily meditation from the Center for Action AND Contemplation below and here: https://cac.org/daily-meditations/disrupting-the-status-quo-2023-01-15/

Disrupting the Status Quo

Richard Rohr describes how speaking truth to power is an essential part of the prophet’s mission:

One of the gifts of the prophets is that they evoke a crisis where one did not appear to exist before their truth-telling. In the 1960s, Martin Luther King Jr. was blamed for creating violence—but those who had eyes to see and were ready to hear recognized, “My God, the violence was already there!” Structural violence was inherent in the system, but it was denied and disguised. No one was willing to talk about it. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and others said, “We’re going to talk about it.”

Prophets always talk about the untalkable and open a huge new area of “talkability.” For those who are willing to go there, it helps us see what we didn’t know how to see until they helped us to see it. That’s how we begin to recognize a prophet—there is this widening of seeing, this deepening of a truth that was always there.

Prophets generate a crisis, so it’s almost understandable why they’re usually called troublemakers and so often killed. They generate the crisis because while everybody else is saying the emperor is beautifully clothed, they are willing to say, “No, he’s naked.” We’re not supposed to say that the emperor has no clothes!

It’s the nature of culture to have its agreed-upon lies. Culture holds itself together by projecting its shadow side elsewhere. That’s called the “scapegoat mechanism.” René Girard, Gil Bailie, and others have pointed out that the scapegoat mechanism is the subtext of the entire biblical revelation. It’s the tendency to export our evil elsewhere and to hate it there, and therefore to remain in splendid delusion. If there isn’t a willingness to be critical of our country, our institution, and ourselves, we certainly can’t be prophets. [1]

When the prophet is missing from the story, the shadow side of things is always out of control, as in much of the world today, where we do not honor wisdom or truth.

It seems the prophet’s job is first to deconstruct current illusions, which is the status quo, and then reconstruct on a new and honest foundation. That is why the prophet is never popular with the comfortable or with those in power. Only a holy few have any patience with the deconstruction of egos and institutions.

The prophets are “radical” teachers in the truest sense of the word. The Latin radix means root, and the prophets go to the root causes and root vices and “root” them out! Their educational method is to expose and accuse with no holds barred. Ministers and religion in general tend to concentrate on effects and symptoms, usually a mopping up exercise after the fact. As someone once put it, we throw life preservers to people drowning in the swollen stream, which is all well and good—but prophets work far upstream to find out why the stream is swollen in the first place. [2]

[1] Adapted from Joan Chittister and Richard RohrProphets Then, Prophets Now (Albuquerque, NM: Center for Action and Contemplation, 2006). Available as MP3 download.

[2] Adapted from Richard Rohr, Soul Brothers: Men in the Bible Speak to Men Today (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2004), 31, 39, 40.

Dec 25 – Merry Inclusive Christmas


With all the different holidays being celebrated this time of year, I wanted to find something to share that might appeal to the beautiful and diverse group of people who read this blog. Below is something I read earlier this week written by Rabbi Rami Shapiro that appealed to me. I sincerely hope it offers something to you as well.

Spirituality & Christmas from the most recent issue of Spirituality & Health (https://www.spiritualityhealth.com/blogs/roadside-musings/2020/12/21/spirituality-and-christmas)

“I love Christmas. My neighbors love Christ. This is not the same thing.

To me Christmas heralds the Very Good News that if a first century rabbi could realize the Truth at the mystic heart of his and every religion—“I and the Divine are one” (John 10:30)—then so can we. This is the same Very Good News taught by sages before and after Jesus:

  • I am you and you are I; wherever you are, there I am … And in whatever place you wish, you may gather Me, but when you gather Me, you gather yourself. (Gospel of Eve)
  • My Me is God, nor do I recognize any other Me except God. (St. Catherine of Genoa)
  • Beyond the senses is the brain. Beyond the brain is the intellect. Beyond the intellect is the Great Atman. Beyond the Great Atman is the Unmanifest Brahman. Beyond the Unmanifest Brahman is the I, all–pervading Subject impossible to objectify. (Katha Upanishad 2.3 7–8)
  • The awakened one is no longer separated from God, and behold you are God, and God is you. So, know that I, even I, am God. God is I and I am God. (Rabbi Abraham Abulafia)
  • I am Truth. There is nothing wrapped in my turban but God. There is nothing in my cloak but God. (Mansur al–Hallaj)

To me Christmas is hopeful: a time to celebrate the potential for God-Realization in all of us. To my neighbors Christmas seems fearful: a time to circle the wagons and bemoan how besieged Christians are—not in countries where they are actually persecuted such as the People’s Republic of China, North Korea, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia but in the most Christian friendly country on earth: the United States of America.

As I walk through my neighborhood and exchange friendly shouts of “Merry Christmas” with my neighbors, I take pleasure in seeing houses draped with Christmas lights and lawns taken over by manger scenes. So, you might forgive my confusion when my neighbors tell me that their right to openly affirm their religion is being denied them, and that they are shunned for saying “Merry Christmas,” and that this War on Christmas gets stronger every year.

To me the War on Christmas is an odd but understandable response to the success of Christianity in the United States. Christians aren’t meant to be successful: Blessed are the poor, the meek, the hungry, the thirsty “who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:10). The problem for my neighbors is that they aren’t poor, meek, hungry, thirsty, or persecuted. Indeed, they are often seen as the persecutors. And because they aren’t persecuted, they fear their place in the Kingdom of Heaven is iffy at best.

The obvious solution—obvious to me at any rate—is for them to take up the causes for which Jesus died: the cessation of othering, injustice, and oppression, and doing right by “the least” among us (Matthew 25). As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. showed us, it doesn’t take long before this Christian message threatens the Powers That Be in America and one becomes “persecuted for righteousness’ sake.” Sadly, it is easier to imagine a War on Christmas instead.

I refuse to engage with the War on Christmas. I choose instead to celebrate the Very Good News that You are God (Tat Tvam Asi and Alles iz Gott as we say in Sanskrit and Yiddish). And when I wish you “Merry Christmas” know that what I am wishing you is this: May your celebration of the birth of Jesus birth your own awakening to the joyous fact that you and God are one.

Merry Christmas.”

Rabbi Rami Shapiro is an award-winning author, essayist, poet, and teacher. In the print version of our magazine, he has an advice column, “Roadside Assistance for the Spiritual Traveler,” addressing reader questions https://www.spiritualityhealth.com/authors/rabbi-rami-shapiro

May peace be with all of us this holiday season _/\_