Meditation on “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

MLK Day is coming next Monday and my yearly tradition has been to read his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” because it speaks so powerfully to me, a white moderate. This year I want to “get in the kitchen” to so speak and share my notes here as I read through this letter again this year.

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John 6 and holy ground

My daily reading from the Daily Office takes me through John 6 regularly and every time I walk through it is the sense I am on holy ground. This is a moving text for me because it drives so deeply into our human motives and the desire of Jesus to strip us of all other desires except to have a driving passion to know God and his Kingdom.

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A prayer of hope

O God, you made us in your own image, and you have redeemed us through your Son Jesus Christ: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in the bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer 2019)

The Great Dissenter

A few years ago when I was teaching American History and in a section on the Supreme Court and “famous cases” I actually read the dissent of John Marshall Harlan in the case of “Plessy vs. Ferguson.” One man dissented in a time when the Supreme Court routinely upheld Jim Crow laws on a unanimous basis. I knew of Harlan’s dissent, but reading the dissent was like reading the prophets of the Old Testament. I wanted to know more about Harlan.

This past week I picked up a new biography on John Marshall Harlan to learn more about him.

The opening sentences by the biographer are intense and powerful:

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