Monday, January 15, 2007

Honoring MLK

Happy ice/snow/MLK day!! It's been a lng weekend for me as I've been at a reunion of some college friends in Dallas, and today we drove back to Oklahoma City where I'm staying with some friends. The weather has been difficult, the ice storm even hitting as far south as Dallas causing many travel problems for those of us flying in from other parts of the country. Still it was a good weekend and everyone appears to have made it where they needed to go, at least for now. Driving up to OKC from Dallas, the ice turned to slush and there's actually an inch or two of snow under the ice in OKC. If it wasn't already a holiday, I'm sure that schools would have been off for a snow day today. Which caused me to stop and wonder for a moment, what do people do with MLK day??? Is it a day where you do something special?? Do you use it to catch up on things around the house or to run errands? Do you go shopping at the latest sales and maybe use some of those Christmas gift cards?

There's a United Methodist Bishop, Woodie White, who always write a letter to Martin Luther King, Jr. for his birthday. This is the link to this year's letter, which I think is definitely worth a read - it's my annual MLK day activity to read this letter, and if possible, I like to read or watch the "I Have a Dream" speech. There's actually a link to it on this webpage with Bishop White's letter. :) MLK was a great man with great vision and spiritual grounding - someone whose voice we could desperately use today. Where are the voices of faith to help people change this country and this world for the better?? Are they out there and we just can't hear them?? Or, are they like MLK, lost in the past and deemed "dated" or "irrelevant"? Do we know what to do with them? I didn't realize this until I was reading things on line today, but MLK day was only established as a holiday (and day of service) in 1994. I graduated from high school in 1993, and I remember there being a MLK day but maybe it was just a mention of his birthday and a little education on what he did and what happened to him. I can't remember, which is sad cause I'm not THAT old! Anyway, I hope that kids are still learning about Martin and get to hear his speeches and feel as inspired by them as I do. And I hope that you have taken at least this time to remember him and feel a little inspired or moved and have done something good with this day. Happy Birthday, Martin Juther King, Jr. (on January 15th)!!


Alaina said...

Hi Mandy,
I agree with you. I also remember there are other voices out there which are not being celebrated/heard. Cesar Chavez and unsung voices from the hispanic community. What of voices from the Native American community or voices like Gustavo Gutierrez of the Latin/South American community? Yes! There are definitely voices out there. So a question I would pose and second is to ask are we doing enough as listeners to make sure their message is getting through and being spread? I congratulate you on linking the site for Dr. King Jr's letter and speeches and challenging us to look for others. Bravo. Keep spreading the seeds of hope and remembrance.

Mary said...

Hi Mandy C- I have a question for you- Earlier this week I was asked if there were any modern day prophets (in the biblical sense, not the Enquirer headline sense :)) and if so, who are they. I keep going back and forth. I've asked a couple of other people what they would say and gotten a variety of odd looks and non-specific answers. Just curious what you would say?

mandyc said...

Mary - I'm curious to know the context of this conversation and who you've been asking that look perplexed by the question.

As far as my answer, I think there are modern day prohets, but who and how many depends greatly on how you define the term. I can't believe that God has just left us to figure it all out on our own since Jesus - we've never been alone before!

Throughout scripture - regardless of what faith you are - there are voices teaching us and guiding us. God always finds ways to communicate with us - and in a variety of ways! In my personal list of people who are prophets - in the line of those in the Bible - Martin Luther King Jr would have to be included - he echoes so many of them!

The problem with trying to discern prophets is that many of them have to be recognized after their time - when they are alive they are often not taken seriously or assumed to be fanatics. It's like trying to determine who's a great artist without knowing what people in the future are going to see as great art. Are there others besides MLK? Probably but I find myself reserved in putting down more names - it seems egotistical somehow to put down what I think when part of what makes a prophet is her/his ability to speak to many people. I don't know if that means someone all over tv/internet in this day and age, but maybe. I'm curious to know what other people here think....

Mary said...

Mandy- Well your very well done blog on prophets somewhat captures how it came about. I was talking with a co-worker and friend about her new found church and some of the less favorable reactions she was getting from family and friends. She is just now starting to explore her spirituality and is unfamilar with just about all doctrine. She was asking about different denominations, which lead to a discussion about the different views of the incarnation. We talked about different beliefs in the nature of Christ and prophet came up. Which then lead to the question what is a prophet and are their any today. I thought I did ok with the what is a prophet, but didn't have an answer for the second part of it.

So I did some research on what a prophet is to try and answer it and here is where I am at:
-I went thru Deuteronomy- appreciate the further references in your post
-According to Deuteronomist History, nabi- Hebrew for prophet can mean; one who is called, one who speaks out i.e. in the name of God, one who is specially designated (called) for the pupose of speaking out on some particular issue designated by God.
-Other Hebrew terms used equal to prophet were roeh-"seer" and hozeh- "seer"/"visionary"
-W.F. Albright proposes that prophecy is a reform movement that was in response to the correption of the spiritual community in Israel. He compares it to events such as the Protestant reformation.
-D.L. Peterson lists six items that define phophetic roles:
*Prophet is a person with unique religious experience
*Prophet has a special speaking or writing style
*Prophet exercises their role in a particular social setting
*Prophet are charismatic among other special persona qualities
Prophet is an intermediary between the divine and human worlds (this one I really get stuck on)
*Prophet is a person with a distinctive message.

Ok, so that broadened or clarified my understanding some. So then I was thinking along your lines- MLK, Mother T, etc. MLK was definitely a visionary, but I don't know that he ever attributed it as coming directly from God- did he? And then Mother T- well, she did get a message from God and act on it, but she didn't really preach it- she just did it. Then there is her letters realeased upon her death about feeling abandoned by God. Does God abandon prophets once they answer the bat phone?

Then what do you do about people like Gandh, who wasn't Christian, but inspired the world, including MLK?

Of the people I know that I have asked- family, friends, they get a distraught look on their face and if they have an answer at all, it is something like Nostradamus or Jean Dixon. I also asked some people that are in an online theology/doctrine class I am taking and they mostly gave the Mother T and MLK examples. Some said priests/preachers but I just don't know.

I know the LDS church calls their leader prophet, but it doesn't matter what people call them, what matters is that God called them and like you said- is he really giving everyone different info?

What about theological leaders in early Christianity like Irenaeus of Lyons, Origen, Clement of Alexandria, Augustine, etc. We don't refer to them as prophets but should we- were they?

I just don't know. I'm totally stuck, but I very much appreciate your thought and ideas and throwing it out there for others to respond. Looking forward to hearing more.