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On MLK, politics, and the prophetic…

April 4, 2008

Martin Luther King, Jr. on War

Today is the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.  I am amazed at how much he accomplished in his short life.  He was the leader of a movement.  A prophetic voice for civil rights…against the wars of empire.  He was a courageous voice speaking out of the framing story of the Gospel to important issues.  Issues on which the country was heading in the wrong direction.

The New York Times reported today that a recent poll indicates that 81% say America is headed in the wrong direction.  The poll clearly points to the need for a visionary leader to change the course of American politics.  Yesterday at district pastors meeting, Brian shared about an interesting story regarding the Myers-Briggs profile of the presidential candidates.  I went looking for it.  Very interesting. 

Hillary Clinton is a Guardian (ESTJ)…”The Supervisor”:  steadfast, cautious, methodical 

Barack Obama is an Idealist (ENFP)…”The Champion”:  filled with conviction they can easily motivate those around them.  Very few ENFPs are leaders of organizations, however this is the typical profile of leaders of movements. 

John McCain is an Artisan (ESTP)…”The Promoter”:  practical, optimistic, cynical, focused on the here and now

scan_paper.jpgI see a correlation between the NY Times poll and the historic turnout in the Democratic primaries.  I sense a growing consensus that perceives the “fierce urgency of the now.”  There are certain pivotal moments in history when the immensity of the problems call for a different approach, a voice that is willing to act and speak prophetically to the dysfunctions of system–to the misguided visions. 

MLK was such a voice.  He looked directly into the face of the principalities and powers of hatred and greed expressed in a segregated and racist nation.  He did so in the spirit of Jesus–non-violent, sacraficial love.  His courageous words and actions cost him his life.  The powers never can tolerate the prophetic voices of liberation–the call for justice for all. 

I believe this country is at a similar crossroads as in the 1960s.  The framing narrative that has guided the response of this country to the tragedy of 9/11 has been tried and found wanting.  The whole system seems to be on a suicidal course of self-destruction.  The times call for a visionary leader can harness the dissatisfaction of the people and reframe the narrative guiding the ideals and actions of this country.  The stakes are such that we cannot continue to implement a same ol, same ol approach.  I sense that Senator Obama is connecting with a groundswell of sentiment.  A mood and outlook that recognizes that something is broke and doing the same thing we’ve been doing won’t fix it. 

I pray that the vision of this nation may be reframed around the values and ideals of peace and justice.  A responsible vision that takes into account the limits of natural resources.  The limits of tolerance for arrogance in the community of nations.

Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us.

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