Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Parables (part 3)

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

An interesting similar use of the Sheep and Goats parable is found in a sermon that also denounced militarism, “The Drum Major Instinct,” which King preached on February 4, 1968, the last sermon he preached at Ebenezer Baptist Church. Instead of human beings wanting to be first in such trivial matters such as wealth or fame, King says, one should strive to be first in love, first in moral excellence, and first in generosity. But, King says, nations can also suffer from this drum major instinct, where nations are struggling for supremacy, and King does not spare the United States from the drum major instinct to want to “rule the world”:

. . . I am sad to say that the nation in which we live is the supreme culprit. And I’m going to continue to say it to America, because I love this country too much to see the drift that it has taken.
God didn’t call America to do what she is doing in the world now. God didn’t call America to engage in a senseless, unjust war. We have committed more war crimes almost than any nation in the world, and I’m going to continue to say it. And we won’t stop it because of our pride, and our arrogance as a nation.

King sorrowfully says that God has a way of putting such prideful nations “in their place,” such as ancient Babylon, Israel, and Rome, and King sees frightening parallels between the United States and those ancient civilizations (2015: 188-189).


On April 9, 1968, about two months later, excerpts of the sermon were played at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s funeral at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

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