Our friends over at Radical Discipleship are hosting a Lenten journey through Dr. King’s “Beyond Vietnam” Speech. Last autumn I was asked to make a contribution and it was posted yesterday.
Led Down the Path of Protest and Dissent
By Rose Marie Berger, a senior associate editor at Sojourners magazine
Now it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read “Vietnam.” It can never be saved so long as it destroys the hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that “America will be” are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.–Martin Luther King Jr
Between the first and second sentence of this paragraph, Brother Martin fully entered into his “vocation of agony.”
Between these two–the first, where he holds America accountable to the ideals of her founding and the second, where he begins his sharpest theological critique to date–King “sets his face like flint” (Luke 9:51; Isaiah 50:7) toward the center of military empire: Washington, D.C.
The Riverside speech launches the next phase of King’s ministry. Now he will address the mechanism of empire–not just its bitter fruits. Now he will hold America accountable not only to her founding ideals but to God.
In that space between “the present war” and “America’s soul,” an assassin snicked his soft-nosed bullet into a 30-06 rifle.
King names America as “Hope-Destroyer;” Vietnam is what the Prophet Jeremiah calls a “high place of Baal, to burn their sons in the fire for burnt-offerings” (19:5). … [read the rest at Radical Discipleship]