Saturday, August 28, 2010

Normalcy: Never Again

Mikaela Reyna
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
("Normalcy: Never Again" is the actual title of King's "I Have a Dream" speech, I'm told. He gave this speech 47 years ago, on August 28, 1963. I was five months old.)

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.

So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities.

We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "For Whites Only". We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Which Musical Are You?

Grizzly Dan and Solly 2
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
So, following a bit more "churchy" discussion at church tonight, the topic moved to the less spiritual, "If you could be any role in a musical, who would you be and from which musical?"

My first answer right off the top of my head was Curly, from Oklahoma, as that is one of my favorite musicals. But then, as the discussion continued, I kept thinking, "Yeah! That's who I wanna be!"

I bounced over to Danny from Grease and Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins (I LOVE him in that!) and, finally, Kermit the Frog, from The Muppet Movie...

No, make that Gonzo! (I love I'm Going to Go Back There Some Day.)

For my church friends who might happen here, some of the other answers were:

Roger - Don Quixote
Brady - Maria's friend (whose name I forget) from West Side Story
Susan T - Maria from Sound of Music (or any Julie Andrews roles)
Susan B - Eva Peron from Evita

Tracy and Molly also offered opinions, but I'm forgetting them.

How about it, anyone? Who would you be?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Pharisee Heresy

Peeking Cat 2
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Hey, gang! It's group participation time!

I was wondering if folk would like to put down what they know, have heard, have read, or just randomly think about the problem with being Pharisaical.

We all know that, in most places these days, to accuse someone of being a Pharisee is not a compliment. "Being a pharisee" has come to be known as being hypocritical or being judgmental or, something. And that's what I'm wanting you to share with me - What is the "sin of being a Pharisee?"

First off, the disclaimers: I understand from various readings and sermons over the years that the Pharisees aren't quite the bad guys we tend to make them out to be, at least not at their best.

In Jesus' day, the Jewish people were a subjected people, second class citizens under the thumb of the Roman empire and in danger of being assimilated and losing their religion. The Pharisees were a "back to the fundamentals" group who wanted to help the Jewish folk be true to their best ideals. It is my understanding that they tended to be simple living advocates, who shunned the excesses of materialism and that they were often quite good people who just wanted to be true to their God.

Nonetheless, we know that they took it overboard and became wrongly judgmental, sometimes hypocritical. But of course, we know that being "judgmental" is not a wrong in itself - we OUGHT to be discerning and make judgments on matters. Or not?

So, tell me what you think: Where did the Pharisees go wrong? What was/is their sin?


Monday, August 9, 2010

A Prayer for Peace

With the uproar about the Islamic Center being built in NYC, and with the remembrance of Peace Sunday and the horrors of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I offer a small prayer for peace...

The song is "Jerusalem," written by Steve Earle and sung here by Donna and Dan, with Jordan accompanying us on mandolin.

I woke up this mornin' and none of the news was good
And death machines were rumblin' 'cross the ground where Jesus stood
And the man on my TV told me that it had always been that way
And there was nothin' anyone could do or say

And I almost listened to him
Yeah, I almost lost my mind
Then I regained my senses again
And looked into my heart to find

That I believe that one fine day all the children of Abraham
Will lay down their swords forever in Jerusalem

Well maybe I'm only dreamin' and maybe I'm just a fool
But I don't remember learnin' how to hate in Sunday school
But somewhere along the way I strayed and I never looked back again
But I still find some comfort now and then

Then the storm comes rumblin' in
And I can't lay me down
And the drums are drummin' again
And I can't stand the sound

But I believe there'll come a day when the lion and the lamb
Will lie down in peace together in Jerusalem

And there'll be no barricades then
There'll be no wire or walls
And we can wash all this blood from our hands
And all this hatred from our souls

And I believe that on that day all the children of Abraham
Will lay down their swords forever in Jerusalem

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bewarr the Boogetymen!

kmw Ghosties 1
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Stupidest things I've read today...

About the plan to build a Muslim center near Ground Zero...

When Christians and Jews or any other non Islamic religion can have some kind freedom of worship then I will support the ground zero mosque, until then, it is our sacred ground.

Okay, this is just weird on so many levels...

1. Whose "sacred ground?"

2. Sacred ground, how? Is this person thinking that God has somehow sanctified the site where the Twin Towers fell, making it a special area for some Christians only (ie, Christians who agree with him)?

3. I'm thinking this person knows this, but we HAVE freedom of worship, which is why the drive to stop this Islamic center is so wrong - it's contrary to our basic values as a people.

4. Is this person suggesting that, if Christians can't freely worship in Muslim countries, then we won't allow Muslims to freely worship here?? Again, contrary to our values and laws.

Aside from this fella: On what possible bases are people opposing an Islamic center near Ground Zero? During the Bush years, they kept assuring us that we weren't in a war against Muslims. With these type of people, that seems to be exactly what they're saying.

What gives?

(And the fella who provided this quote is just one of many stupid things I've read on this topic, he's not alone. I leave him unnamed to protect the silly.)

The second dumb thing (series of comments, actually) I've read today is about the Gay Marriage ban being overturned over in California Land (and, by the way, a tentative YEAYYY! for folk interested in supporting justice and marriage, whether gay or straight-ish). Hold on to your hats...

* It's about a concerted effort to undermine marriage as a whole...

* don't expect all the homosexuals to go home then and be happy, no, that will be just the beginning. The schools, read, your children, will be the next target, judicial decree in hand, then your church should your pastor finally grow a spine and decide that appeasing God's enemy to win their favor is not where it's at, and so be deemed by the enemies of God to be evil and therefore outlawed...

* Having a gay judge rule on such a matter is also irrational. He should have recused himself....

*If she loves her cat and her cat does not protest, how can they possibly deny her under her right to life and liberty and the fundamental right to marry the right to marry her cat?...

Stupid, stupider, stupidest and stupidester.

Fear-mongering is alive and sick, unfortunately.

I'll let the goofy statements stand on their own, but for this: I wonder if these folk who think that gay judges can't reasonably sit on a case involving gender orientation, do they also think that STRAIGHT judges "can't possibly be unbiased," and therefore ought to recuse themselves? If so, who shall adjudicate this case?

Does this mean that black judges can't preside over cases with ramifications for black people? That male judges can't preside over cases involving men?

Where does the stupidity of that suggestion end?

Fear-mongering and stupidity notwithstanding, tentative congratulations (tentatively) to California and those everywhere interested in justice.

UPDATE: Okay, so I've just got to post this additional "professional-scale" stupid comment about the proposed Islamic center in NYC, from Sarah Palin, who apparently tweeted...

“Peace-seeking Muslims, please understand. Ground Zero Mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Please reject it in the interest of healing.”

And the stupidity rolls on...