Martin Luther King, Jr. & Weekend Announcements

Remember that there will be no class tomorrow, Jan. 17.  Instead, we’ll be remembering the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Dr. King will be a frequent subject of conversation in our class.  He often alluded to the Old Testament prophets as he argued for the United States’ radical re-orientation of its social structures.  “Let us realize that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” King said in one speech in 1965.  King understood that the seed of injustice in our country is not just attitudes toward race, but disproportionate concentration of wealth into the hands of a few at the expense of many.

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel in a civil right and anti-war protest.

Perhaps the shame of MLK day is that King himself has been cordoned as a sacred cow, a symbol of some mythical ideal that we all wish to achieve but don’t actively pursue.  I’m reminded of an article I read a few years ago that describes King as an antiseptic hero:

“We must recognize,” [King] said, “that we can’t solve our problems now until there is a radical redistribution of economic and political power.” Among other things, this would require facing the truth that “the dominant ideology” of America was not “freedom and equality” with racism “just an occasional departure from the norm.” Racism was woven into the fabric of the country, intimately linked to capitalism and militarism. They were all “tied together,” he said, “and you really can’t get rid of one without getting rid of the others.” What was required was “a radical restructuring of the architecture of American society.

“Was not Amos an extremist for justice: ‘Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.'”  King formed his conception of the world from the Old Testament, and he used it as a point of reference in many speeches he delivered.

I hope you get a chance to take advantage of some activities in Lexington that will take place tomorrow as we remember his life and mission.  The university is sponsoring a breakfast, march, and other events.  Tomorrow evening, there will be a showing of the play, Please Don’t Call Me Homeless, I don’t Call You Homed, at Transylvania University.  There’s a list of service opportunities that will take place as well.  Or, if you want to locate another service project, visit the national website, MLKDay.gov. Does anyone have plans to participate? Feel free to talk about them here.

Class News and Notes

1.  A reminder: this class is capped at 30 students.  Please make sure that you are enrolled, and if you have enrolled after our first two meetings, please get in touch with me to get up to speed.

2.  Most people have registered for the blog.  If you have problems, send me an e mail or talk to me after class, and I’d be happy to help you along.

3.  Conversation blog posts:  Just to recapitulate, throughout the semester I’ll provide posts with lists of questions that pertain to our readings (usually on Friday for the upcoming week’s material).  These questions are meant to be topical guidelines or suggestions for your own writing.  At least two times each semester, you are required to write a 1000-word blog post before we meet in class.  Posts that cover material after we meet for class will not be counted.  Everyone can earn extra credit by posting an additional two times throughout the semester as well.

4.  This week, I invited you all to read the first 25 chapters of Genesis.  As you read, take notes and remark on the things you haven’t noticed before.

What strikes you as remarkable, interesting, puzzling, infuriating, or otherwise noteworthy when you read the first half of Genesis?

If this is the first time you’ve read Genesis in a while, or maybe the first time ever, what was your experience like?  What would you like to spend more time talking about in class, and why?

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About Andrew Battista

Andrew Battista is Librarian for Geospatial Information Systems at New York University
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