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"I have a dream...."

by Tom Graffagnino


"I have a dream...."

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed;

'We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.....'

"I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, the crooked places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."

"....With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope......

"....thank God Almighty, we are free at last." --Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

How ironic, it seems to me, that while on the one hand we are encouraged to honor the hopes and dreams of Martin Luther King, Jr., we are on the other hand being forced to disregard and/or publicly disassemble the spiritual faith foundation upon which Martin Luther King, Jr.'s hope was built.

For instance, is it REALLY "self-evident that all men are created equal"? After all, all "creation-talk" has been banned from the hallowed halls of Biology Classrooms, as today the Dogma of Darwinism and the liturgies of Macro-Evolutionary Theory are taught as indisputable and non-debatable, empirically proven Fact. ("Men created equal"? Well, not really....You see, kids, we all just appeared by Chance from slime and are preserved because some are simply more fit than others to exist....")

And then, what's all this talk in Dr. King's speech about, "...every valley shall be exalted...."? Can we allow such specific Biblical rhetoric to go unchallenged in this day and age? Now that Martin Luther King, Jr. Day has been elevated to a National Holiday, can we allow these lines from his speech to remain? Don't we recognize that these words are taken directly from the Holy Scriptures (Old Testament and New), heralding the glorious appearance of the Christ, the Anointed One, the King of Kings, Jesus of Nazareth, the long-awaited, prophesied Jewish Messiah? (Isaiah 40: 3-5, Matthew 3: 3)

Shouldn't we, in fairness, ....(ahem)...."air brush" these utterances of Dr. King somewhat to make them "religion non-specific"? Shouldn't these words be "cleaned up" so that everyone of every faith might be able to "access" them without spiritual discomfort? Shouldn't these words of Dr. King be liberated from the context of their cultural/ spiritual patriarchal straitjacket so that ALL the people may benefit? What, after all, does "the glory of the Lord" have to do with dreams of freedom and liberty, anyway? Certainly, we have evolved beyond such antiquated and spiritually divisive notions...Haven't we?

And when Dr. King said that, "With this faith we will be able to hew out of this mountain of despair a stone of hope....", shouldn't we change "this faith" to "this idea" or "this plan of action" or "this legislation" or "this program"? We wouldn't want anyone to get the idea that Dr. King's words were in fact born of a specific faith-based conviction founded upon a specific Biblical pronouncement idea and precedent (Galatians 3: 23-29)....Would we?

Now, don't get me wrong! I think Dr. King's speech is truly one of this nation's most inspiring legacies. I am, however, disturbed by the blatant Biblical references and Christian allusions openly and brazenly woven into the text. This brazen contextual message becomes even more troubling to me today ....ESPECIALLY today... since these words will be learned and memorized by schoolchildren (public schoolchildren!) from all backgrounds and all religious beliefs.

Does this type of religious rhetoric REALLY have a place in our National (for ALL the people) Holiday agenda? Whatever happened to the sacred notion of separation of church and state? And what about freedom from religion?

"God talk" and "Bible talk" have their place...(please don't misunderstand!)....but shouldn't specific Bilblical references such as these found in Dr. King's speech be restricted to home and church settings only? Our forefathers fought and died to protect and preserve the religious liberties of ALL the people. Isn't it time that we do a little creative "doctoring" of Dr. King's speech so that it can truly be enjoyed by the diverse and beautiful ecumenical rainbow that we call America?

Keep up the good work!

Tom

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