Dr. Martin Luther King Day

From Rev. Jeremy Simons, Cathedral Chaplain
January 8, 2018

This coming Monday we mark the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., a day that celebrates the efforts by many people to overcome racial prejudice and bigotry.  Of all the special days that we take note of during the year, this is one that we might see as especially important to the New Church. This is because both the need for the struggle and the goal of the struggle are well explained and given a high priority in the Heavenly Doctrines.

Racial prejudice is in some ways easy to understand and excuse. It is easy to understand that people unfamiliar with other people who are unlike themselves are likely to be hesitant in dealing with them. As the world’s population grows, with advances in technology, communication and transportation, cultural groups are mixing as never before. Maybe it is only to be expected that there will often be discord resulting from the clash of cultures.

But this isn’t the way that we typically see it, nor is it the way that the Writings portray it. Instead, the Writings describe the peoples of the traditionally Christian world as having less love for the Lord and the neighbor than do people from other parts of the world. So it is not simply the clash of cultures, but a lack of kindness and empathy that expresses itself as prejudice. It lies at the very core of what it means that the church has come to an end in the Christian world. This suggests that although racial prejudice is present all over the world, it especially afflicts the West.

The good news is that this also suggests that if we can overcome it here, it can be overcome everywhere. Dr. King’s work and example have done more to help this cause than perhaps anyone else’s.

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