I'm remembering the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Being born in 1969,
I belong to the very first generation of people for whom he's never been a living being — he's always been a larger than life legend, an icon of the rather quaint knowledge that we are all HUMAN first, and skin pigmentation much
later. In an age where we have an African-American president, an era when blacks had to drink from different water fountains seems like ancient history. By comparison, there's a generation of children coming up now who have no memory of September 11, 2001 — but whose lives have been shaped by it in ways they can't imagine.
The great speaker that Dr. King was, it is so tempting to boil him down into a few soundbytes. That's how he got stuck with the cliche of a moniker “The Dreamer.” I don't want to minimize the power of that dream, or the work he did in striving for racial justice. It's just that the more that I get to know Dr. King through his speeches and writings, the greater I revere him as a profound spiritual teacher — a man whom, like Jesus, I strive to
pattern my life after.
If you are struggling with some challenge, you owe it to yourself to read “Strength To Love” by Dr. King. I can't explain what that book has done for me during some of my darkest days. Anyway, as I was driving to visit my mother this weekend, I heard this excerpt from Dr. King's “Drum Major Instinct” speech. It brought me to tears because he describes how I want to live my life, how I want to be remembered.
Not just today, but for the rest of the year, take some time to dig into Dr. King's writings and lesser known speeches. Learn why he teaches us to have a “tough mind and a tender heart” and how he offers a modern perspective on the Jesus principle of loving your enemies.
Prince has a song dedicated to Dr. King on his latest album, LotusFlow3r. As he says in that song, “If it was just a dream . . . then call me a dreamer too . . .”
My mother plays piano. Quite well, in fact. Among the songs she loves to play and that I love to hear is called “If I Can Help Somebody.” Lyrics go like this:
“If I can help somebody, as I pass along . . . then my living shall not be in vain.”
It sums up a large part of my parents’ life philosophy — consequently, I cherish it as a part of the legacy they left me. And the reason I bring it up here is because of a posting I found on a bulletin board about “A Message From God.”
As much as I love this project and what it’s doing in the world, I actually don’t get a lot of feedback on it. So when I ran across these remars from “Taimour” on a bulletin board at Stresscenter.org . . . well, it meant a whole lot to me. Check it out:
Posted January 01, 2010 08:27 AM
this link that i’m posting is an e-book/online articles (you can read it online or ask them to email it to you)that really helped find my way again
i’ll try to describe my situation to you so before i read it so you know how that book
helped me and how it can help you
well i’m a muslim but i never really feel that i belonged in that religion, i don’t get it why i should be praying 5 times a day always be living in some kind of conservative way and be thinking of religion/good and everything else possible to feel spiritual…i really had problems praying…i felt like i was talking to myself…and especially in
islam..the routine…of reciting some pieces of the quran felt always like a one-sided thing for me…
to put it short.. i was in a relationship with god of me knowing that he exists, that he created the whole world and everything, i wanted and needed to “reconnect with god” and didn’t have a clue HOW
after i read this small book it helped me a lot
it’s very short and very entertaining
took me only an hour or so to read it
It touched me for a variety of reasons:
I’m always excited to find out that something that The Author brought through me is touching lives, period.
This reader is Muslim. This project was never intended to convert anyone to a specific religion and it respects all religious traditions. Instead, it’s meant to help its readers develop a relationship with The Author, regardless of their religious background. It seems to have done that in Taimour’s case, which is both awesome and humbling.
This reader is from Giza, Egypt. Although The Author told me this message would touch millions worldwide, watching it actually happen is pretty awesome!
Perhaps most importantly, it comes during a cold season in my personal life. My faith is fundamentally sound, but it’s also just plain tired. So, knowing that I have helped somebody as I pass along . . .
My living has not been in vain. Amen.
PS: If you’ve read “A Message From God” and would like to share your feedback, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Although this project has been in the making for almost three years, it only went live on the Web at around Christmas 2008. Since then, through personal challenges and changes, it's grown into a worldwide phenomenon — and I'm NOT exaggerating.
the message seems to be resonating with young people in The Philippines, Singapore and the surrounding areas. In fact, about 110 of those fans are from Southern Asia and the Pacific Islands. There are fans in India, Bahrain, Sudan and Pakistan. And if you're not a fan yet on Facebook, what are you waiting for?
I want to thank each of you reading this for participating in this project, and for sharing it with those you love. There have been times when I've hesitated about moving forward with this project, mostly out of fear. But through it all, I've been able to quiet the fearful noises and listen to the quiet voice of The Author, which has given me that legendary “blessed assurance.” The more I watch this project touch lives, the more grateful I am to be its messenger.
In the coming months, look for more features and additions to the site, including more bloggers from various belief systems, a recommended reading list, live chats and more video content. Stay tuned!
All that said, I'd love to hear your feedback! If you've read “A Message From God,” watched the video, or
read any of the blogs, speak up! The object of this was never to have a one way communication. Post a message on one of the blog posts to let me know what you think!
If it seems like the past seven days in the world have been more troubled than usual, it’s probably because it has been.
Just read, look at or listen to the news media. Nuclear weapons testing in Iran. Earthquakes in the Philippines and in Indonesia. A tsumami
in the American Samoan Islands. A steady increase in reported cases of both the seasonal and “swine” flu. Not to mention the “usuals”: assaults, robberies, murders, plant closings, etc.
Dwelling on such things can understandably make even a person of great faith feel overwhelmed by feelings of sorrow and despair.
But amidst all the negative realities, a ray of hope remains. God is still in control and He is handling everything great and small that is going on.
By “handling,” I mean that God is bringing something good from everything that feels and seems bad right now. I’ll be the first to admit that often we finite human beings can’t always grasp the “big picture”. Yet faith tells us that though life can be hard, God is good and God is faithful.
I was reminded of that precious truth this week while at work. A situation arose wherein my professional skills and competence were not-so-subtly being questioned and atatcked. Rather
than defend myself, I held my peace and trusted in the Lord as He instructs us in the Scriptures to do in times such as this. In no time at all, without any help from me, I was vindicated and affirmed by my fellow colleagues. In other words, God “handled” it.
Whatever trial or tribulation you are facing, no matter great or small, rest in the precious presence and promises of God. In His own distinct way, He’ll assure you that without a doubt the problem is being handled.
Mindfulness is a path to inner peace. Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hahn is a profound teacher.
I first ran across the name of Thich Nhat Hahn in an airport bookstore. No less than Dr. Martin Luther King
Jr. himself nominated Thich for the Nobel Prize in 1967, with the following ringing endorsement:
I do not personally know of anyone more worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize than this gentle Buddhist monk from Vietnam…. He is a holy man, for he is humble and devout. He is a scholar of immense intellectual capacity. — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Anyway, the book was entitled “Going Home: Jesus and Buddha As Brothers.” As someone who believes that Jesus was not the only great spiritual teacher, this intrigued me enough to pick up the book, which is so indescribably peaceful to read that I’m not even going to try to do so here. Suffice to say that since then, I’ve read many of Thich’s books, including True Love and Peace Is Every Step.
Earlier this month, Thich was scheduled to come to Magnolia Village in Batesville, Mississippi, where I was planning to go and learn from him. Unfortunately, he caught pneumonia and was hospitalized. But while I couldn’t make the trip, I ran across this piece by Ryan Croken at Religious Dispatches. Has to do with how we define “toughness.” I hope you enjoy it!