Celebrating our substitute Jesus. Really. I can't remember the last time I heard a speech or even a sermon without hearing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. referenced. He has a national holiday. Kids spend weeks studying and learning about him. My boys began getting ready for MLK day before Winter Vacation time. That's what we used to call Christmas Vacation in the olden days. The meaning of his holiday is emphasized. Good works and good will towards men are spoken of. There are no vices even acknowledged, much less mentioned. He is studied in our history books only in a celebratory way. Lincoln, Washington, the Christian faith get none of that. And in my boys' history books, no president was given a full page celebratory article.
He is, basically, the substitute Jesus. He is a holy man, a religious icon, a sacred name we can invoke in an age where Christians are increasingly accepting that their faith, their morals, and their Savior had best stay in the closet where they belong, at least until they are willing to change those things to conform to the modern way.
But MLK? There is no change needed. Like most mythical figures, we are high on veneration, and low on obedience. Truth be told, Malcolm X is far closer to the representative figure of where the Civil Rights movement went than Dr. King. After all, one of the fundamental dreams he had in his famous speech was for a day when the color of our children's skin didn't matter. Fast forward to today. I dare say the color of people's skin is the first and primary factor in almost anything that occurs today. And often times, not for the best reasons. As a symbolic figurehead he does quite well. But when it comes to actually listening to what he said? I fear not so much.
So it's the holy day that replaced Christmas and other Jesus days for a post-Christian society. The modern movement discovered that they could mold and shape (and subsequently ignore) Dr. King as they see fit. Much in the same way, I'll bet, they believe they can do with Pope Francis. Whatever Pope Francis actually says about homosexuality, for example, will be irrelevant. They will hoist him up the modern flagpole next to Dr. King, pay about as much attention to him as is convenient, and use him as the only acceptable Pope that any Catholic dare reference. Just like Dr. King can be quoted, praised, referenced and venerated, as long as it is for modern acceptable narratives. And if you get out and start dropping that J-Term when talking about MLK, well then I'm afraid we're just going to have to show you the door.