Week of 1/15-20/2024: MLK, the Black Madonna, Mary Oliver, & the Christian Right

January 15, 2024: On Martin Luther King Jr., His Movement & His Mentors
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had at least three mentors who inspired him to use civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance as a means toward ending injustice. They were Jesus, Howard Thurman, and Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi was inspired by the Sermon on the Mount and used the principles Jesus taught in order to nonviolently challenge the British Empire. Eventually, Gandhi’s use of nonviolence succeeded in toppling the English without firing a single shot. MLK took these tools and inspired the masses to march, eventually resulting in both the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. Sixty years later, racism is rearing its head again and calling us to resist anew.

“The Method of the Civil Rights Movement.” Voices of the Civil Rights Movement

January 16, 2024: The Black Madonna and MLK Jr.’s Holiday
Matthew draws the parallels between the Black Madonna and MLK: What the Black Madonna stands for is what MLK Jr. stood for: Justice in the face of injustice; attention to the anawim, those without a voice; love, not hatred; peace, not war; forgiveness, not retribution. An  appreciation of darkness and blackness. And so much more. She represents Africa, our place of origin. And, in the guise of the Our Lady of Guadalupe, she appeared to Juan Diego, an indigenous teenager. She helps us remember to fight for those without a voice.

January 17, 2024: Gifts Given: In Gratitude to Mary Oliver
On this fourth anniversary of Mary Oliver’s death, we celebrate her glorious poetry, what she called her “prayer.” She is a prime example of a creation-centered mystic and artist, a lover and observer of life and nature’s great fecundity and holiness. When she spoke, shortly before her death, she had three pieces of advice to offer, especially to the young: “1. Pay attention. 2. Be astonished 3. Share your astonishment.”

“At the River Clarion,” by Mary Oliver, read by Isha Francis. Puran Lucas Perez

January 18, 2024: “Resounding Melody”:  Hildegard, Mary Oliver, and Word Made Flesh
For Hildegard, words are alive, and take many forms. Word is music, a “resounding melody” inherent in every being and found in every corner of the universe. She says, “God’s Word is in all creation, visible and invisible.” One poem of Mary Oliver’s begins this way: The spirit/ likes to dress up like this:/ ten fingers,/ ten toes,/ shoulders, and all the rest… Another poem, “At the River Clarion,” is a poem about how divinity dwells in all things. It begins with this humble sentence, “I don’t know who God is exactly.” How refreshing, distinguishing her wonderfully from the preachers and politicians who self-righteously claim to know God.

January 19, 2024: Billionaire Buyer Turning Another American Newspaper Rightward?
Matthew received distressing news from a friend in Baltimore that the Baltimore Sun had been bought by a local right-wing activist billionaire. This friend and her mother both had articles published in the Sun. She knew reporters and photographers for the paper, and they’d written her mother’s obituary and her father’s epitaph. She was sick at heart that this “187-year-old newspaper” would turn into a far-rightwing “echo of Fox News.” Fox News is, of course, the same corporation which was fined almost $800 million for having spread manifold lies about the 2020 election.

God Made a Dictator.” The Lincoln Project

January 20, 2024: The Christian Right & Thomas Merton on American Idolatry
We reflect on the rise of billionaire media moguls with their agendas for a post-democracy America and evangelical voters’ idolatry of a certain Republican frontrunner. Journalist Amanda Marcotte says, That Iowa evangelicals turned out to back Trump isn’t a betrayal of their values. It reveals the values that always fueled their movement: values of racism and sexism. Meanwhile, in a current New York Times article entitled “The Deification of Donald Trump,” we learn that Trump is called “the chosen one” and depicted as Moses parting the Red Sea in the “God Made Trump” video, which is part of his presidential campaign.* The late Catholic monk Thomas Merton had words for what we are seeing today: Religion of “half religious people” constitutes “the greatest orgy of idolatry the world has ever known, and it is not generally thought by believers that idolatry is the greatest and fundamental sin.”   

*Thomas B. Edsall, “The Deification of Donald Trump Poses Some Interesting Questions,” New York Times, January 17, 2024.

Banner image: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Martin Luther King. Flickr.

Recommended Reading

The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine

To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature,  to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God

Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society

Visionary theologian and best-selling author Matthew Fox offers a new theology of evil that fundamentally changes the traditional perception of good and evil and points the way to a more enlightened treatment of ourselves, one another, and all of nature. In comparing the Eastern tradition of the 7 chakras to the Western tradition of the 7 capital sins, Fox allows us to think creatively about our capacity for personal and institutional evil and what we can do about them. 
“A scholarly masterpiece embodying a better vision and depth of perception far beyond the grasp of any one single science.  A breath-taking analysis.” — Diarmuid O’Murchu, author of Quantum Theology: Spiritual Implications of the New Physics

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2 thoughts on “Week of 1/15-20/2024: MLK, the Black Madonna, Mary Oliver, & the Christian Right”

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    May God’s Spirit of Love~Wisdom~Truth~Peace~Justice~Healing~Transformation~Creativity~Joy~Compassion…
    continue growing in the hearts and lives of All our sisters and brothers around the world….
    — Amen

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