Sunday, December 1, 2013

I've Been To The Mountain Top - Martin Luther King

In this historic speech, Rev. King relates our responsibility to support and aid our fellows to the story of  The Good Samaritan - the Golden Rule.

Please, when reading this consider that his references to the suffering, needs, responsibility and power of the negro community apply equally to all the downtrodden in our society regardless of ethnicity.

Strong individuals and communities will be committed to the principles outlined in this simple yet direct and powerful story.

This, of course, is one of the most mysterious and powerful scriptures in existence.  It encapsulates the entire teachings of  Jesus into one memorable concept.  This appears for Jesus, to be his most basic and critical teaching and purpose - which of course, he also recommends to me and you.


Luke 10:25-37    (KJV)

25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?

27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?

30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.

33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,

34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.

36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?

37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him.
                                           Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

The poor and downtrodden must be a bigger priority for us all as individuals or a nation.  Certainly, it must be a bigger priority than murdering and/or ruining entire populations world-wide and right here at home - for corporate financial advantage.

As I read the words of this sermon, I couldn't help but feel (with surprise) that today's far-right politics seem to have fairly successfully adopted the methods of the civil-rights movement of the 60's in the effort to reduce and ruin social health and prosperity, while the rightful inheritors of "the rights movement" have just taken to sitting around whining about it.

So, I think it is important to see how the principles taught by Jesus and others play out in day to day community living.

As James said, believing is doing.  "...shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works." James 2:18

I think that aside from promoting some types of business that are typically, though not manditorially operated in direct contradiction to the Golden Rule, the main message that Rev. King puts out here should be immediately relevant to us all as we consider the plight of our own neighbors.

As Jesus put it, "Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” 

Those who led so powerfully during the development of the civil-rights movement knew their mission was to bring the enjoyment of freedom, liberty and justice to all - a task still underway and still under attack by a hostile machine of greed and excess.

Rev. Lowrey


I’ve Been to the Mountaintop

Martin Luther King
3 April 1968 Memphis, Tenn.
(Rev. King's last speech; given the day before his assassination)   

Thank you very kindly, my friends.
As I listened to Ralph Abernathy and his eloquent and generous introduction and then thought about myself, I wondered who he was talking about.
It's always good to have your closest friend and associate to say something good about you, and Ralph Abernathy is the best friend that I have in the world.

I'm delighted to see each of you here tonight in spite of a storm warning.
You reveal that you are determined to go on anyhow.

Something is happening in Memphis, something is happening in our world.

And you know, if I were standing at the beginning of time with the possibility of taking a kind of general and panoramic view of the whole of human history up to now, and the Almighty said to me,
"Martin Luther King, which age would you like to live in?"

I would take my mental flight by Egypt, and I would watch God's children in their magnificent trek from the dark dungeons of Egypt through, or rather, across the Red Sea, through the wilderness, on toward the Promised Land.

And in spite of its magnificence,

I wouldn't stop there.

I would move on by Greece, and take my mind to Mount Olympus.

And I would see Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Euripides, and Aristophanes assembled around the Parthenon, and I would watch them around the Parthenon as they discussed the great and eternal issues of reality.

But I wouldn't stop there.

I would go on even to the great heyday of the Roman Empire, and I would see developments around there, through various emperors and leaders.

But I wouldn't stop there.

I would even come up to the day of the Renaissance and get a quick picture of all that the Renaissance did for the cultural and aesthetic life of man.

But I wouldn't stop there.

I would even go by the way that the man for whom I'm named had his habitat, and I would watch Martin Luther as he tacks his ninety-five theses on the door at the church of Wittenberg.

But I wouldn't stop there.

I would come on up even to 1863 and watch a vacillating president by the name of Abraham Lincoln finally come to the conclusion that he had to sign the Emancipation Proclamation.

But I wouldn't stop there.

I would even come up to the early thirties and see a man grappling with the problems of the bankruptcy of his nation, and come with an eloquent cry that "we have nothing to fear but fear itself."

But I wouldn't stop there.

Strangely enough, I would turn to the Almighty and say,
"If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the twentieth century, I will be happy."

Now that's a strange statement to make, because

the world is all messed up.

The nation is sick, trouble is in the land, confusion all around.

That's a strange statement.

But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.

And I see God working in this period of the twentieth century in a way that men in some strange way are responding.

Something is happening in our world.

The masses of people are rising up.

And wherever they are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Accra, Ghana; New York City; Atlanta, Georgia; Jackson, Mississippi; or Memphis, Tennessee, the cry is always the same:

"We want to be free."

And another reason I'm happy to live in this period is that we have been forced to a point where we are going to have to grapple with the problems that men have been trying to grapple with through history, but the demands didn't force them to do it.

Survival demands that we grapple with them.

Men for years now have been talking about war and peace.

But now no longer can they just talk about it.

It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it's nonviolence or nonexistence.

That is where we are today.

And also, in the human rights revolution, if something isn't done and done in a hurry to bring the colored peoples of the world out of their long years of poverty; their long years of hurt and neglect, the whole world is doomed.

Now I'm just happy that God has allowed me to live in this period, to see what is unfolding.
And I'm happy that he's allowed me to be in Memphis.

I can remember, I can remember when Negroes were just going around, as Ralph has said so often, scratching where they didn't itch and laughing when they were not tickled.

But that day is all over.
We mean business now and we are determined to gain our rightful place in God's world.

And that's all this whole thing is about.

We aren't engaged in any negative protest and in any negative arguments with anybody.
We are saying that we are determined to be men.
We are determined to be people.
We are saying, we are saying that we are God's children.

And if we are God's children, we don't have to live like we are forced to live.

Now what does all this mean in this great period of history?
It means that we've got to stay together.
We've got to stay together and maintain unity.

You know, whenever Pharaoh wanted to prolong the period of slavery in Egypt, he had a favorite, favorite formula of doing it.

What was that?

He kept the slaves fighting among themselves.

But whenever the slaves get together, something happens in Pharaoh's court, and he cannot hold the slaves in slavery.

When the slaves get together, that's the beginning of getting out of slavery.

Now let us maintain unity.

Secondly, let us keep the issues where they are.

The issue is injustice.

The issue is the refusal of Memphis to be fair and honest in its dealings with its public servants, who happen to be sanitation workers. Now we've got to keep attention on that.

That's always the problem with a little violence.

You know what happened the other day, and the press dealt only with the window breaking.

I read the articles.

They very seldom got around to mentioning the fact that 1,300 sanitation workers are on strike, and that Memphis is not being fair to them, and that Mayor Loeb is in dire need of a doctor.

They didn't get around to that.

Now we're going to march again, and we've got to march again, in order to put the issue where it is supposed to be and force everybody to see that there are thirteen hundred of God's children here suffering, sometimes going hungry, going through dark and dreary nights wondering how this thing is going to come out.

That's the issue.

And we've got to say to the nation, we know how it's coming out.
For when people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping point short of victory.

We aren't going to let any mace stop us.

We are masters in our nonviolent movement in disarming police forces.

They don't know what to do.
I've seen them so often.

I remember in Birmingham, Alabama, when we were in that majestic struggle there, we would move out of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church day after day.

By the hundreds we would move out, and Bull Connor would tell them to send the dogs forth, and they did come.

But we just went before the dogs singing, "Ain't gonna let nobody turn me around."

Bull Connor next would say, "Turn the fire hoses on."

And as I said to you the other night, Bull Connor didn't know history.

He knew a kind of physics that somehow didn't relate to the trans-physics that we knew about.

And that was the fact that there was a certain kind of fire that no water could put out.

And we went before the fire hoses.

We had known water.
If we were Baptist or some other denominations, we had been immersed.
If we were Methodist or some others, we had been sprinkled.
But we knew water.
That couldn't stop us.

And we just went on before the dogs and we would look at them, and we'd go on before the water hoses and we would look at it.

And we'd just go on singing, "Over my head, I see freedom in the air."

And then we would be thrown into paddy wagons, and sometimes we were stacked in there like sardines in a can.
And they would throw us in, and old Bull would say, "Take 'em off."
And they did, and we would just go on in the paddy wagon singing, "We Shall Overcome."

And every now and then we'd get in jail, and we'd see the jailers looking through the windows being moved by our prayers and being moved by our words and our songs.

And there was a power there which Bull Connor couldn't adjust to, and so we ended up transforming Bull into a steer, and we on our struggle in Birmingham.

Now we've got to go on in Memphis just like that. I call upon you to be with us when we go out Monday.

Now about injunctions.
We have an injunction and we're going into court tomorrow morning to fight this illegal, unconstitutional injunction.

All we say to America is to be true to what you said on paper.

If I lived in China or even Russia, or any totalitarian country, maybe I could understand some of these illegal injunctions.

Maybe I could understand the denial of certain basic First Amendment privileges, because they haven't committed themselves to that over there.

But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly.

Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech.

Somewhere I read of the freedom of press.

Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right.

And so just as I say we aren't going to let any dogs or water hoses turn us around, we aren't going to let any injunction turn us around.

We are going on.

We need all of you.

You know, what's beautiful to me is to see all of these ministers of the Gospel.
It's a marvelous picture.

Who is it that is supposed to articulate the longings and aspirations of the people more than the preacher?

Somewhere the preacher must have a kind of fire shut up in his bones, and whenever injustice is around he must tell it.
Somehow the preacher must be an Amos, who said, "When God Speaks, who can but prophesy?"
Again with Amos, "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream."
Somehow the preacher must say with Jesus, "The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me (Yes), and He's anointed me to deal with the problems of the poor."

And I want to commend the preachers, under the leadership of these noble men: James Lawson, one who has been in this struggle for many years.
He's been to jail for struggling; he's been kicked out of Vanderbilt University for this struggling; but he's still going on, fighting for the rights of his people.

Reverend Ralph Jackson, Billy Kyles; I could just go right on down the list, but time will not permit.
But I want to thank all of them, and I want you to thank them because so often preachers aren't concerned about anything but themselves.

And I'm always happy to see a relevant ministry.

It's all right to talk about long white robes over yonder, in all of its symbolism, but ultimately people want some suits and dresses and shoes to wear down here.

It's all right to talk about streets flowing with milk and honey, but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here and His children who can't eat three square meals a day.

It's all right to talk about the new Jerusalem, but one day God's preacher must talk about the new New York, the new Atlanta, the new Philadelphia, the new Los Angeles, the new Memphis, Tennessee.

This is what we have to do.

Now the other thing we'll have to do is this: always anchor our external direct action with the power of economic withdrawal.

Now we are poor people, individually we are poor when you compare us with white society in America.
We are poor.

Never stop and forget that collectively, that means all of us together, collectively we are richer than all the nations in the world, with the exception of nine.
Did you ever think about that?

After you leave the United States, Soviet Russia, Great Britain, West Germany, France, and I could name the others, the American Negro collectively is richer than most nations of the world.

We have an annual income of more than thirty billion dollars a year, which is more than all of the exports of the United States and more than the national budget of Canada. Did you know that?

That's power right there, if we know how to pool it.

We don't have to argue with anybody.

We don't have to curse and go around acting bad with our words.

We don't need any bricks and bottles; we don't need any Molotov cocktails.

We just need to go around to these stores, and to these massive industries in our country, and say,

"God sent us by here to say to you that you're not treating His children right.

And we've come by here to ask you to make the first item on your agenda fair treatment where God's children are concerned.

Now if you are not prepared to do that, we do have an agenda that we must follow.

And our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from you."

And so, as a result of this, we are asking you tonight to go out and tell your neighbors not to buy Coca-Cola in Memphis.
Go by and tell them not to buy Sealtest milk.
Tell them not to buy–what is the other bread?–Wonder Bread.
And what is the other bread company, Jesse?
Tell them not to buy Hart's bread.
As Jesse Jackson has said, up to now only the garbage men have been feeling pain.
Now we must kind of redistribute that pain.

We are choosing these companies because they haven't been fair in their hiring policies, and we are choosing them because they can begin the process of saying they are going to support the needs and the rights of these men who are on strike.

And then they can move on downtown and tell Mayor Loeb to do what is right.

Now not only that, we've got to strengthen black institutions.

I call upon you to take your money out of the banks downtown and deposit your money in Tri-State Bank.
We want a "bank-in" movement in Memphis.
Go by the savings and loan association.
I'm not asking you something that we don't do ourselves in SCLC.

Judge Hooks and others will tell you that we have an account here in the savings and loan association from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
We are telling you to follow what we're doing, put your money there.
You have six or seven black insurance companies here in the city of Memphis.
Take out your insurance there.
We want to have an "insurance-in."

Now these are some practical things that we can do.
We begin the process of building a greater economic base, and at the same time, we are putting pressure where it really hurts.
And I ask you to follow through here.

Now let me say as I move to my conclusion that we've got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end. Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point in Memphis.
We've got to see it through.
And when we have our march, you need to be there.

If it means leaving work, if it means leaving school, be there.
Be concerned about your brother.
You may not be on strike, but either we go up together or we go down together.
Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness.

One day a man came to Jesus and he wanted to raise some questions about some vital matters of life. At points he wanted to trick Jesus and show him that he knew a little more than Jesus knew and throw him off base. [Recording interrupted]

Now that question could have easily ended up in a philosophical and theological debate.
But Jesus immediately pulled that question from midair and placed it on a dangerous curve between Jerusalem and Jericho.

And he talked about a certain man who fell among thieves.
You remember that a Levite and a priest passed by on the other side; they didn't stop to help him.

Finally, a man of another race came by.
He got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy.

But he got down with him, administered first aid, and helped the man in need.

Jesus ended up saying this was the good man, this was the great man because he had the capacity to project the "I" into the "thou," and to be concerned about his brother.

Now, you know, we use our imagination a great deal to try to determine why the priest and the Levite didn't stop.

At times we say they were busy going to a church meeting, an ecclesiastical gathering, and they had to get on down to Jerusalem so they wouldn't be late for their meeting.
 At other times we would speculate that there was a religious law that one who was engaged in religious ceremonials was not to touch a human body twenty-four hours before the ceremony.
 And every now and then we begin to wonder whether maybe they were not going down to Jerusalem, or down to Jericho, rather, to organize a Jericho Road Improvement Association.
That's a possibility.
 Maybe they felt it was better to deal with the problem from the causal root, rather than to get bogged down with an individual effect.

But I'm going to tell you what my imagination tells me.
It's possible that those men were afraid.
You see, the Jericho Road is a dangerous road.

I remember when Mrs. King and I were first in Jerusalem.
We rented a car and drove from Jerusalem down to Jericho.

And as soon as we got on that road I said to my wife,
"I can see why Jesus used this as the setting for his parable."
It's a winding, meandering road.
It's really conducive for ambushing.

You start out in Jerusalem, which is about twelve hundred miles, or rather, twelve hundred feet above sea level.
And by the time you get down to Jericho fifteen or twenty minutes later, you're about twenty-two feet below sea level.
That's a dangerous road.

In the days of Jesus it came to be known as the "Bloody Pass."

And you know, it's possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around.

Or it's possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking, and he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure.

And so the first question that the priest asked, the first question that the Levite asked was,
"If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?"

But then the Good Samaritan came by, and he reversed the question:
"If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?"

That's the question before you tonight.

Not, "If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to my job?"
Not, "If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to all of the hours that I usually spend in my office every day and every week as a pastor?"

The question is not, "If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?"

The question is, "If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?"

That's the question.

Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness.

Let us stand with a greater determination.

And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge, to make America what it ought to be.

We have an opportunity to make America a better nation.

And I want to thank God, once more, for allowing me to be here with you.

You know, several years ago I was in New York City autographing the first book that I had written.
And while sitting there autographing books, a demented black woman came up.
The only question I heard from her was, "Are you Martin Luther King?"
And I was looking down writing and I said, "Yes."

The next minute I felt something beating on my chest.
Before I knew it I had been stabbed by this demented woman.
I was rushed to Harlem Hospital.
 It was a dark Saturday afternoon.
And that blade had gone through, and the X rays revealed that the tip of the blade was on the edge of my aorta, the main artery.
And once that's punctured you're drowned in your own blood, that's the end of you.
It came out in the New York Times the next morning that if I had merely sneezed, I would have died.

Well, about four days later, they allowed me, after the operation, after my chest had been opened and the blade had been taken out, to move around in the wheelchair of the hospital.

They allowed me to read some of the mail that came in, and from all over the states and the world kind letters came in.
I read a few, but one of them I will never forget.

I had received one from the president and the vice president; I've forgotten what those telegrams said.
I'd received a visit and a letter from the governor of New York, but I've forgotten what that letter said.

But there was another letter that came from a little girl, a young girl who was a student at the White Plains High School.
And I looked at that letter and I'll never forget it.
It said simply, "Dear Dr. King: I am a ninth-grade student at the White Plains High School."
She said, "While it should not matter, I would like to mention that I'm a white girl.
I read in the paper of your misfortune and of your suffering.

And I read that if you had sneezed, you would have died.
And I'm simply writing you to say that I'm so happy that you didn't sneeze."

And I want to say tonight, I want to say tonight that I, too, am happy that I didn't sneeze.
Because if I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been around here in 1960, when students all over the South started sitting-in at lunch counters.

And I knew that as they were sitting in, they were really standing up for the best in the American dream and taking the whole nation back to those great wells of democracy, which were dug deep by the founding fathers in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been around here in 1961, when we decided to take a ride for freedom and ended segregation in interstate travel.

If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been around here in 1962, when Negroes in Albany, Georgia, decided to straighten their backs up. And whenever men and women straighten their backs up, they are going somewhere, because a man can't ride your back unless it is bent.

If I had sneezed, if I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been here in 1963, when the black people of Birmingham, Alabama, aroused the conscience of this nation and brought into being the Civil Rights Bill.

If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have had a chance later that year, in August, to try to tell America about a dream that I had had.

If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been down in Selma, Alabama, to see the great movement there.

If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been in Memphis to see a community rally around those brothers and sisters who are suffering.
I'm so happy that I didn't sneeze.

And they were telling me.
Now it doesn't matter now.
It really doesn't matter what happens now.
I left Atlanta this morning, and as we got started on the plane–there were six of us–the pilot said over the public address system: "We are sorry for the delay, but we have Dr. Martin Luther King on the plane. And to be sure that all of the bags were checked, and to be sure that nothing would be wrong on the plane, we had to check out everything carefully. And we've had the plane protected and guarded all night."

And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out, or what would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers.

Well, I don't know what will happen now; we've got some difficult days ahead.
But it really doesn't matter to with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop.
And I don't mind.
Like anybody, I would like to live a long life–longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will.
And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain.
And I've looked over, and I've seen the Promised Land.
I may not get there with you.
But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.
And so I'm happy tonight; I'm not worried about anything; I'm not fearing any man.
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

Delivered at Bishop Charles Mason Temple.

Notes:

“We got some difficult days ahead,” Martin Luther King, Jr., told an overflowing crowd in Memphis, Tennessee, on 3 April 1968, where the city's sanitation workers were striking. “But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop…I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land” (King, “I’ve been,” 222─223). Less than 24 hours after these prophetic words, King was assassinated by James Earl Ray.
King had come to Memphis two times before to give aid to the Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike. On 18 March, he spoke at a rally before 15,000 people and vowed to return the following week to lead a march. James Lawson and King led a march on 28 March, which erupted in violence and was immediately called off. Against the advice of his colleagues in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, King returned to Memphis on 3 April 1968, seeking to restore nonviolence back to the movement in Memphis.

After arriving in Memphis, King was exhausted and had developed a sore throat and a slight fever. He asked Ralph Abernathy to take his place at that night’s scheduled mass meeting at Bishop Charles Mason Temple. As Abernathy took the podium he could sense the disappointment of the crowd, which had turned out in the hundreds to hear King speak. Abernathy called King at the hotel and convinced him to brave the bad weather and come down to the temple. When King arrived, the crowd gave him a standing ovation. After Abernathy introduced King, the 39-year-old leader took the podium and began to speak to the audience extemporaneously. “Something is happening in Memphis” (King, “I’ve Been,” 207). “Something is happening in our world,” King said. Surveying great times in history, including Egypt, the Roman Empire, the Renaissance, and the Civil War, King said he would “be happy” if God allowed him “to live just a few years in the second half of the twentieth century” (King, “I’ve Been,” 209). King confessed that this may sound strange to many because the “world is all messed up. The nation is sick, trouble is in the land, confusion all around” (King, “I’ve Been,” 209).
As King recalled the events in Birmingham in 1963, he painted a bleak picture of the times, yet said this was the best time in which to live. Blacks were no longer “scratching where they didn’t itch and laughing when they were not tickled,” King claimed (King, “I’ve Been,” 210). “That day is all over. We mean business now and we are determined to gain our rightful place in God’s world”(King, “I’ve Been,” 210). As King concluded his speech, he began to reminiscence about his near fatal stabbing in September 1958. One letter from a white high school student stood out:  “I read in the paper of your misfortune and of your suffering. And I read that if you had sneezed, you would have died. And I’m simply writing you to say that I’m so happy that you didn’t sneeze” (King, “I’ve Been,” 221). He exclaimed that he would have missed the emergence of the student sit-ins in 1960, the Freedom Rides in 1961, the Albany Movement in 1962, the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, and the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965. “If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been in Memphis to see a community rally around those brothers and sisters who are suffering” (King, “I’ve Been,” 222).
In a prophetic finale to his speech, King revealed that he was not afraid to die: “Like anybody, I would like to live a long life—longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. . . .And so I’m happy tonight; I’m not worried about anything; I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord” (King, “I’ve Been,” 222-223). Witnesses, including Abernathy, Andrew Young, and James Jordan said King had tears in his eyes as he took his seat. “This time it just seemed like he was just saying, ‘Goodbye, I hate to leave,'” Jordan supposed (Honey, 424). On 4 April, while King waited for a limousine to take him to dinner at Reverend Billy Kyles’ home, he was fatally shot on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel.
SOURCES
Abernathy, And the Walls Came Tumbling Down, 1989.
Honey, Going Down Jericho Road, 2007.
King, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” in A Call to Conscience, eds. Carson and Shepard, 2001.
Young, An Easy Burden, 1996.


Friday, June 28, 2013

Government Good - Government Bad

by Rev. Gregory "Doc" Lowrey

It may seem odd that many times the biggest issues for churches seem to be with government.

In the United States the two are supposed to be separated.

One cannot attempt to exercise control over the other as that would essentially establish a government religion.

Both are free to address and attempt to persuade the other, but may not go further.

There is a distinction for what seem the majority of churches in the United States that must be noted and that is churches that have bought official government recognition of their (exempt from govt. involvement) status.

When churches do apply for and purchase what is called 501.c.3 status, which is the title in the IRS code that addresses tax exempt organizations; as a condition of that recognition (that the IRS declares they do not even need as their exempt status is declared in the Bill of Rights and is a status that is not claimed to be "granted" by govt. , only "officially recognized" - as if the official recognition of the 1st Amendment was not enough.) - these churches do become the very thing outlawed by the Constitution - Establishment Churches, controlled by the Government - limited and regulated in what they can do or say.

That is a very wrong and illegal thing, sadly participated in willingly by both churches and government.

Presumably the argument is that it is legal because the churches have requested the relationship of government oversight - but even thinking that way violates the 1st Amendment - and regardless of  churches asking for it - the Government is prohibited from extending it.

The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.  Wikipedia 
    No means No. 
    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."  United States Bill of Rights
For example, those churches can no longer "legally" take a public stand against or for public policies or representatives - 501.c.3 ministers legally cannot publicly counsel on social morality!

Interestingly, churches are not required to submit to the IRS, but are persuaded by the Government to voluntarily relinquish their Liberty and independent status.  (A Govt. appeal to ignorance and greed!)

Weird, huh?

Well, I make the distinction because some churches - (Church of Universal Truth / UBU Ministries being one of them) - do not fall under government control and are able to function as they are led by their beliefs and are able to perform the essential task of persuading people to act and think morally - free from Government meddling, regulation, restriction or oversight.

The best standard of morality is the Golden Rule, stating that we should treat and think about other people just as we would desire them to treat and think about us.
Matthew 7:12  Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
This Rule, called the Royal Law by the Apostle James, was stated by Jesus to be the entirety of his religion - all the law and all the prophets - meaning that on this principle is built all law and on this principle hang all the teachings of the prophets - everything depends on this concept of equality - and - anything that fails to conform to this Royal Law - does not truthfully represent God or Jesus.
    James 2

    8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: .
    12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.
Thank goodness we can legally shout it out here that Equality is the religion of Jesus and the Royal Law of God - and that both judge by the Law of Liberty.

If God and Jesus then, believe in the Law of Liberty, that law must also be part and parcel of the Royal Law; treating others as we would be treated.  We honor each individual's right to liberty as well as equality.

But what about those who pick and choose about when and to whom they will apply God's Law?

James also speaks about them.

Infused around verses 8 and 12 (in chapter 2) is also found the following warning about those who don't follow the Royal Law or who think they are aligned with God but don't really understand.

James makes it pretty clear - and even more so in subsequent verses.
    9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.

    10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

    11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill.
       Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.

    13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment. 

James warning to not have respect to persons simply means, not that we fail to respect people, but rather that we do not hold one person's value, rights, interests, equality and liberty to be different - greater or lesser than any other person.

James also makes clear that we can't claim moral or spiritual superiority over anyone because since there really is only one law (The Royal Law) of which all other laws are merely expositions - that if we violate any law of God, we have violated the whole.

It is sad to see so many claim to represent the public interest who have no personal grasp on this one principle that should underpin their every decision and action - but doesn't.

You can't withhold liberty, equality, privilege etc. from one group while extending it to another - and - you can't extend, withdraw or manage liberties that are granted by God.

And the manner with which such a respecter of persons will be judged will not be as in verse 12 (by the law of liberty), but by the same judgement that person exercised - "judgement without mercy".

Jesus explains that this law does not just apply to people we like or approve of.
Luke 6

    31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.

    32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.

    33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.

    34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.

    35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.

    36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

    37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:

    38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

    39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?

    40 The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.
Doesn't this sound so much like the protections we have declared in the Bill of Rights?

Just like Jesus says in vs. 40 above, not only must his disciples fail to stray from the principles he taught, but also our Judges, Legislators and Administrators must never stray from the principles laid out in the Constitution and Bill of Rights - their Rule of Law, which are so simply based on God's Royal Law described above.

And as in vs. 39, "Can the blind lead the blind?"

Are we to allow ignorant, immoral pretenders to make and administer our laws?

Are we to have blind and immoral prosecutors and judges victimize us when we have violated no legitimate law?

So, we warn against the evils in government where we find so much is regularly done with both "respect to persons" and "judgement without mercy".

I want to point out today both an obvious evil of government which I believe was intentionally overshadowed by a surprising admission of the real meaning of equality.

That the Court actually comprehends the principle they so clearly espouse is strangely enough highly questionable, unbelievable even. 

It appears that the timing of the decision was staged to let the outpouring of good feelings from the second  decision weaken the power of the outrage from the first.

As if our collective awe would make us forget the prior insult.

This does not lessen the value of the decision to honor the rights of gay citizens, but does warn against thinking that the best interests of the public and commitment to the rule of law take much part in it.

It's just not believable that the Court could clearly see the message of the Constitution for one civil rights issue and be so blind about it on another - especially when black civil rights have been so thoroughly examined over so many years.

Our governors seem pretty much to be people who do not understand or value equality, liberty or mercy.

So, we celebrate the recognition of Constitutionally Mandated Equal Treatment as it has been established by the United States Supreme Court earlier this week relating to so-called Gay Marriage, especially the clarity that was given in the legal opinions showing that the Constitution really was intended for ALL the people.

The principles taught by Jesus support equality and individuality.

While we are celebrating this victory of official eye opening to the rule that already existed this last 200+ years, we are devastated by the ignorance and/or evil that inspired the eviscerating of the Voting Rights Act as well as a decision that a person's silence is to be considered proof of guilt.

The "Rights" that these judges and legislators play with are "Rights" because they are God-given, not granted, nor could they be granted by man.

Man has no power to grant "rights" to others.  If so - man also would have power to withdraw those rights - and they could not be Guaranteed.

They also cannot legally be legislated or modified by man.  They are UNALIENABLE!

The only thing man can do with an unalienable right is to declare it, explore it and defend it.

I wonder what part of "Unalienable" the courts, legislatures and administrations could possibly fail to understand?

I have to suppose that they DO understand it.  They trample the Constitution on purpose.

When they pledge allegiance to God and the Nation, it is a pretense - mere public relations.

We must not allow ourselves to be victimized by ignorant, immoral profiteers.

They must all be removed from office and replaced by honest leaders who understand and defend that ONE LAW - and keep us Free and Equal.

Monday, January 7, 2013

42 Lessons Life Taught Me

by Rev. Doc Lowrey

My daughter Jamie sent this post out on Facebook today.
I was very impressed with it and wanted to share it's sage counsel.

Written by Regina Brett, of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio .

"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 42 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I've ever written.

My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:


1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short – enjoy it..

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. Save for retirement starting with your first pay check.

9. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

10. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

11. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

12. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

13. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it...

14 Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

15. Get rid of anything that isn't useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.

16. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

17. It's never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.

18. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

19. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

20. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

21. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

22. The most important sex organ is the brain.

23. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

24. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'

25. Always choose life.

26. Forgive but don’t forget.

27. What other people think of you is none of your business.

28. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

29. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

30. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does..

31. Believe in miracles.

32. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

33. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

34. Your children get only one childhood.  (Make it a good one)

35. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

36. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

37. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

38. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have not what you need.

39. The best is yet to come...

40. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

41. Yield.

42. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

* Friends are the family that we choose