I didn’t take much hope from the opinion pages of today’s newspapers.
From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Major thoroughfares are named in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and all too typically, the surrounding neighborhoods are filled with blight and poverty.” (A16).
An editorial in the Wall Street Journal quotes Dr. King, “We know that there are many things wrong in the white world, but there are many things wrong in the black world too. We can’t keep on blaming the white man. There are things we must do for ourselves.” Then the opinion writer says, “Where King tried to instill in young people the importance of personal responsibility and self-determination notwithstanding racial barriers, his counterparts today spend more time making excuses for counterproductive behavior and dismissing criticism of it as racist.” (A19)
The New York Times features the ministry of Bishop Charles Blake in Los Angeles. His “church has developed 400 units of affordable housing, and it has ministries that provide counseling, help the homeless and ex-convicts, assist black-owned businesses and tutor students. Many have credited him with transforming a once struggling corridor in the Crenshaw neighborhood….” But then a dissent. “I know he has a prison ministry and all of these things,” Professor (Melina) Abdullah said. “It’s all kind of focused on an individual coming to Jesus, rather than how do we create freedom in the world.” (A14).
The professor seems to reflect a popular American view of Jesus, one who makes me feel good but does not thrust me into good works for others. Dr. King knew better. “One day, we will have to stand before the God of history. And we will talk in terms of things we’ve done. And it seems to me that I can hear the God of history saying, ‘That was not enough. For I was hungry, and you fed me not.’” (Matthew 25: 42; Washington Post op-ed in St. Louis Post-Dispatch, A17)