A King’s Easter, Pausing to Reflect on Jesus and Eggs

This year — for the second time — the sad anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. falls on Easter, a day that according to Google Trends brings annual peaks of interest in the search terms Jesus and eggs.

Easter is a perfect context for thinking about King’s death in a Kingian way because as a preacher of Easter sermons he would insist that after we pay death its due we should not neglect the fact of life which after all makes death possible in the first place.

Likewise with movement. For King life was movement. And half the hope for life was bound up in hope for the next movement which in his case would have been the Poor People’s Campaign of summer 1968. I say half the hope because as a Sunday preacher King warned against placing your whole hope in human effort.

Paradoxical as it sounds, the great maestro of social movement insisted that human effort could never completely do for itself. That would be like saying Jesus resurrected himself or the egg laid itself. There’s something besides all the things you can do — which you should do — for yourself. Something the movement needs which is not the movement, itself.

David Rovics sent out an email yesterday reflecting upon the growing anticipations that people are having. Something is badly needed which is not being provided. Or as the Secretary of the Treasury says, unemployment will remain at unacceptable levels for many more years to come.

A movement of some kind is in the making. What’s not so clear is how people are preparing their half of the responsibility for it. King died while doing too much. Paradoxically the preacher of Easter sermons who said human effort was only half the ingredient of movement was exhausting himself in that half trying heroically to make up for the rest of us who exhaust ourselves doing too little.

In a book of spiritual teachings I recently ran across the term “personal work” and I think King would have liked that term. In the process of nonviolence as practiced by King, “personal work” was required. During the Easter campaign of 1963, protesters were required to meditate on the life of Jesus. They had to sign cards saying they had thought deeply about the example of Jesus. Jesus was required reading.

With our common life scooped out and replaced by mass media velocities — and considering the pattern of our recent debates about health care — there is reason to think that movements have been replaced in the internet age by virtual flame wars. And the thing about flame wars is that they lack all evidence of “personal work.”

Capitalism, once again, has imploded out from underneath millions of people whom it pretended to serve. And socialism even under these conditions finds underwhelming support. Between the cracks of two deflated ideals, a necessary movement grows roots. With so much death around us, King’s Easter reminds us that if we don’t neglect “personal work”, there is always hope for birth and rebirth through righteous, organized, and disciplined social movements.

Greg Moses is editor of the Texas Civil Rights Review and a member of the Texas Civil Rights Collective.. Read other articles by Greg, or visit Greg's website.

9 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Rehmat said on April 2nd, 2010 at 12:57pm #

    Rev. Martin Luther was martyred at the alter of Capitalism and Racism. However, Jesus, though against usury (Capitalism), could not be a bigot or racist – but the New Testament do project him that way. A few year ago, The Washington Post’s “Muslim Martin Luther” met a similar fate at the hands of the America’s “Jewish Intellectuals” – for criticizing them for not criticizing the Zionist entity for its Zionazi policies against Palestinians. On the recommendations Dr. Bernard Lewis, Dr. Daniel Pipes and other ‘Islamophobe’ creeps, Swedish professor Tariq Ramadan was declared a “threat to US security” and was not allowed to take his teaching position at the Catholic University of Notre Dam……

    The Muslim ‘Martin Luther’

  2. Danny Ray said on April 2nd, 2010 at 2:11pm #

    Rehmat, Sorry to tell you this but Martin Luther was not martyred, He passed away peacefully, in his bed, of a stroke on Feb 18, 1546.
    That’s 17 Dhul-Hijjah 952 to you guys.

    Could you please elucidate as to where the New Testament portrays Christ as a bigot or racist?

  3. Jonas Rand said on April 2nd, 2010 at 10:08pm #

    This article has nothing to do with Martin Luther. Martin Luther died centuries ago, centuries before the subject of this article was born, lived, and was assassinated. The subject of this article is Martin Luther King, an African-American activist, organizer, reverend and philosopher who stood vehemently against the prejudice, injustice, and oppression that affects people to this day. Martin Luther was a German reverend and philosopher who translated the Bible and led a religious movement known as the Lutherans. These are two very different people. I hope we all know that Martin Luther King is not Martin Luther.

    Jesus has largely been misunderstood by organized Christianity, i.e. the Christian church, though those involved with liberation theology do understand the message and philosophy of Jesus. Martin Luther King did comprehend the ideas that Jesus espoused, and channeled them into action. Martin Luther King has also been transformed as a sort of establishment figure, lauded for “I have a dream” as pundits speak endlessly, in vain, about how “the dream has been achieved”. This is done by cowardly people, poor excuses for journalists, who, after he has died, decide that even one of the most anti-establishment, anti-racist activists can be disrespectfully turned into everything he was against. It is the corporate media equivalent of defacing King’s grave, and it is shameful that his message is now associated with war-mongering politicians who are corrupt and refuse to do anything about injustice that they know exists. The article offers a truthful perspective, to present the facts rather than regurgitate the drivel in the same misleading articles that show up every MLK day to drop random names of politicians who, were MLK alive today, would think of him as a sinister man with an agenda. The fact that MLK practiced nonviolence and exalted peace does not mean that he supported the policies of anything and everyone, no matter how unjust. I’m grateful to the author for writing this.

  4. MichaelKenny said on April 3rd, 2010 at 5:57am #

    Good article. 19th century liberalism gave the world democracy and human rights but its ecomomic system, capitalism, threw up all sorts of problems. The 20th century socialists ( and “socialism” does not mean “communism”!) addressed those problems with the idea of social and economic rights, while conserving the liberal “acquis”. Now, the world needs a new ideology for the 21st century, which will build on the liberal and socialist “acquis” while addressing the unresolved problems of both. At a guess, it could probably be called “green, regulated, social market statism”. A large public sector, a well regulated private sector, with the market as a useful mechanism to meet society’s needs, not an end in itself and, of course, sustainable development to create stable employment without destroying the planet or people’s health.

  5. Hue Longer said on April 3rd, 2010 at 6:42am #

    There was no Jesus but there was an MLK…MLK missed his biggest opportunity when Kennedy got him to ruin the DC Airport actions….he tried to make up for that later on and got a bullet for it

    We don’t need Jesus and whatever “leader” we start to follow is a steam valve allowed to us so that we don’t blow the lid off.

  6. Danny Ray said on April 3rd, 2010 at 9:48am #

    Hue, There has to be some sort of leader even if it is just a committee; a group of people going somewhere sans a leader is nothing more than a mob. Mobs never accomplish anything good or lasting. Alternatively, to use your analogy with out a safety valve the lid blows off and everyone will be burned.

    Jonas, I certainly know the difference between Martin Luther and MLK. I was pointing this out to My Friend Remat, BTW Martin Luther did much more for the world than give us the Lutherans. He took God from the nobility and gave him to the common person.

  7. Charlie said on April 3rd, 2010 at 4:13pm #

    “Could you please elucidate as to where the New Testament portrays Christ as a bigot or racist?”

    OK, Danny Ray. Matthew, Chap. 15 for example:

    22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
    23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
    24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
    25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
    26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.
    27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.
    28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

    Here’s a summary: Jesus specifically says he was sent only for the “lost sheep of Israel,” and he portrays all others, including the suffering Canaanite woman as “dogs.” Once she realizes her place, however, as a dog eating crumbs from his Jewish hands, only then will he agree to help her.

    And speaking of bigots, instead of referring with such kindness to Martin Luther, you might want to actually read his writings–something his admirers have typically never tried. Read, for instance, his lovely little piece called “On the Jews and Their Lies.” Here are some examples from Wikipedia:


    Finally, as to taking God from the nobility and giving Him to the common person, all I can say is, No thanks. The nobility can keep Him.

  8. Jonas Rand said on April 3rd, 2010 at 5:00pm #

    Popular consensus decisions, governance systems run OF the people and BY the people are best. “Leader” implies authoritarian, totalitarian systems; the authority must be held by the people at large. No, I don’t mean some kind of Maoist rhetoric that masks itself as “people’s government”, which is despicable and disgusting. I am talking about real change that is implemented by popular referenda, community discussion forums, etc. Devolving the power to communities, ruling themselves, their own lives, and making decisions as one interdependent family, for the greater good of all. A top down, authoritarian system cannot foist oppression on the masses and at the same time be a democracy. A democratic system must involve communities governing themselves, and the global community governing by the free choice of the world populace. Authority is not the solution, people are.

  9. bozh said on April 3rd, 2010 at 5:45pm #

    Charley, yes to that.
    And moreover, jesus said or s’mone put words in his mouth: I came to uphold the law and the prophets; i.e., approves of genocide of the canaanites as well as all the other torahic misteachings.
    He also may have said: ye shall aways have poor amongst u. Why wld god say or want that? tnx