Read + Reflect: 28 Days with Martin (Installment #3)

Welcome to the third installment of this series! Click here for the first installment.

One of the ways I’m encouraging my congregation to learn about the social roots of black oppression in modernity is through an educational series called Read + Reflect: 28 Days with Martin. Everyday in the month of February, I will publish a brief excerpt of Martin Luther King Jr.’s writing and a short reflection question on my church's Facebook account and via email to those who subscribe to our Social Justice Team. My hope is that these short, regular exposures to King’s words—which often expand beyond then-current race relations and into theology, philosophy, economics, and militarism—will stir something in people to become more educated, advocate for justice, and carry on King’s dream.

13 February 2023



“God is interested in the freedom of the whole human race and in the creation of a society where all men can live together as brothers, where every man will respect the dignity and the worth of human personality.” (The American Dream, 1968)



King was weary of his movement being misinterpreted as promoting black supremacy and not black equality, so he often went to great lengths to clarify that freedom for the black community meant freedom for all oppressed people. How can we seek justice for all oppressed people while also focusing on the kinds of oppression and injustice unique to American society? 

14 February 2023




“…freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” (Letter from a Birmingham Jail, 1963)



In the last ten years, we’ve seen a nationwide cultural reckoning with racism and violence against the black community, resulting in countless protests and social movements demanding freedom from oppression for people of color. What would it look like for predominantly white individuals and communities to join in this chorus of demand alongside the black community?

15 February 2023




“I’m very happy that he didn’t say like your enemies, because it is pretty difficult to like some people…But Jesus says love them, and love is greater than like. Love is understanding, redemptive, creative, good will for all men.” (Love Law, and Civil Disobedience, 1961)



King often rejected a sentimental, superficial concepts of love in favor of one that is concrete and other-oriented. Think about the people in your life that you struggle to get along with due to their social or political convictions—despite how you feel about them, how can you love them in the way King describes it here? 

16 February 2023




“Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and evil. The greatest way to do that is through love. I believe firmly that love is a transforming power that can lift a whole community to new horizons of fair play, good will and justice.” (Walk for Freedom, 1956)



For King, hate and evil were vicious cycles; endless feedback loops from which it was impossible to escape so long as hate and evil were continually reciprocated. The only way to break that cycle is love. What sources of hate and evil in our society and culture do we need to tear down with love?


17 February 2023



“To cure injustices, you must expose them before the light of human conscience and the bar of public opinion, regardless of whatever tensions that exposure generates.” (Interview with Playboy, 1955)



King’s movement of nonviolence was greatly helped along by the advent of television in the American home, allowing violence committed against peaceful and nonviolent protestors to be seen unedited and objectively for the first time by people around the country. What is our responsibility, as Christians, to expose injustice to the “light of human conscience and the bar of public opinion”? If we see injustice in our society, how can we go about exposing it? 

18 February 2023




“But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authentic ring, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.” (Letter from a Birmingham Jail, 1963)



Though written 60 years ago, this sentiment still rings true today. Much of the modern disillusionment with Christianity comes from the Church’s unwillingness to take sides, reject neutrality, and stand in solidarity with the oppressed. If we desire the Church to continue being a meaningful institution for the foreseeable future, how might we need to change the way we do ministry and approach the intersection and religion and society?

19 February 2023




“It may be that the salvation of the world lies in the hands of the maladjusted. The challenge to us is to be maladjusted…as maladjusted as Jesus who could say to the men and women of his generation, ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you.’” (The Current Crisis in Race Relations, 1958)



Society is adjusted to particular norms and cultural expectations. King’s solution, then, is to be maladjusted: unwilling to adhere to said social norms and expectations. Jesus, he proposes, is a model for this unwillingness. What are some of the norms and expectations of our current context and how can we, like Jesus, approach them as people “maladjusted”?


[Unless otherwise noted, all quotations are taken from A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King Jr., ed. James M. Washington, (New York: HarperCollins, 1991).]



Popular Posts

So, You Want To Read Karl Barth?

So You Want to Read….Dietrich Bonhoeffer?

2010 KBBC: Week 1, Day 5

Karl Barth on Hell, the Devil, Demons, and Universalism – A Florilegium

2010 KBBC: Week 3, Day 1