In Lay Terms

Random Ramblings From a Church Nerd

Monday, January 18, 2010


Today is the day we remember and commemorate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This is also the first time that I've had the day off from work. When I worked in an academic setting, the opted to keep the college open, not hold classes, but also hold a convocation that addressed the themes of Dr. King's life. The speakers were great, there were often schoolchildren who would attend. A local chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha would perform a stepping routine (this got quite popular). The understanding behind the day was that we needed to have a day "on", not a day off.

So, here I am at home from work. I'm not at the college anymore, so I don't have a ready-made convocation outside my office door (quite literally). How do I best honor Dr. King?

One popular option is to spend this day in volunteer service. It's a good time to visit a shelter, a thrift store, somewhere that will work for peace and justice.

Since I already work with a few non-profits, it may be a good time to continue the work there. I've been behind in getting information about The Naming Project Summer Camp out there. I've almost got a brochure completed, and I need to update the web site with this summer's dates (July 18-23, just in case you were wondering).

I may also crack open my work laptop and do some more work. Again, I feel like the work that I do does advance a greater understanding between individuals. It's still a day "on" (even though I slept in today).

I keep thinking about "peace and justice". In some ways, the idea of peace and justice is big and amorphous. It seems way more than we can do. It is beyond the work of an individual. It also encompasses so many aspects. Are we talking about peace and justice for race? class? gender? sexual orientation? ability? the earth? war? crime? community?

Yes, yes, and yes. Because peace and justice is such a big term, we can work on any part of it. We don't have to solve all the problems of the world. We simply need to do what we can to make this world a better place. That may mean working in human relations (race, class, ability, gender, etc). It may be becoming a stronger environmentalist. It may be working within the political system. It may be volunteering at the local library. This is the best part: YOU GET TO CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE!

Most people think of Dr. King as primarily someone who worked for the rights of African-American people. Surely, most of his work was centered around race relations. However, later in his life, he began looking at poverty. He understood (as I am beginning to understand) that discrimination doesn't happen in a vacuum. Poverty is just as much of a problem for humankind as racism is. In fact, the two probably feed into one another. In order to help eliminate racism, Dr. King recognized that he needed to address the needs of the poor (regardless of race). And many of the poor suffered from racial discrimination, which implies that we need to eliminate racism to achieve real results in decreasing poverty. The cycle continues.

Those are the thoughts that are filling my head on this MLK day. As I work on The Naming Project brochure, communication for TNP, and comforting those who still feel excluded from the church, I hope that I can help honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Please strive for justice and peace today, and every day.


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