Monday, January 18, 2010

MLK Jr. Day: Prayer As Action

In March 1965, after marching alongside Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma, Alabama, the celebrated theologian and rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote, "When I marched in Selma, my feet were praying."

Heschel's formulation explicitly equates righteous action (or activism) with prayer. In this time of increased fundamentalist agitation and violence, Heschel's notion is vital to both contemporary religion and secular humanism; that is to say, it is vital to every human being.

It seems very appropriate, then, that King, Jr. Day is observed by many in the United States as the King Day of Service, a day in which we honor the message and aspirations of Martin Luther King, Jr. by volunteering our time and effort for humanitarian causes (or, as I've also done this year, signing up for forthcoming volunteer projects and donating money to important aid efforts).

It is also a day, of course, to remember the man and the many he inspired to act or speak out against prejudice and oppression. May there be many more such prophets.

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