Monday, January 15, 2007

Saints Are Where You Find Them

A nice diary by Matt Yglesias about the legacy of Martin Luther King. Matt surveys the dismal history of Black-white relations in the US prior to 1950 and concludes:

Under the circumstances, it would have been natural to conclude that the only thing the white south understands is force, that the use of force was eminently justified, and the time had come to launch a massive campaign of violent resistance.

King and other leaders of the civil rights movement apparently took their Christianity more seriously than a lot of people do, however, and, following in part in the political example of Gandhi, set out on a different path.
And of course both Gandhi and King were inspired by Thoreau. It's interesting that perhaps the greatest and most dedicated practical Christian in American history drew spiritual guidance from a Hindu and a--well, it's hard to define what Thoreau was, but he certainly wasn't a member of any Christian denomination. Maybe all of us who call ourselves Christians should be more focused on recognizing and learning from what is divine in every culture than on hunting for doctrinal errors and lapses from virtue that we can denounce.

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