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April 2008 CACE eJournal

From the Director:

I was nearly three years old in April 1968. I do not have many memories from then (apart from going to watch the train carrying Robert Kennedy’s casket two months later), but I do remember that in my early life my parents often discussed the issue of race. For them, the United States was a place which made life difficult for African Americans, even though some things were getting better after 1964. It was hard to miss those occasions when my parents would express tremendous enthusiasm for a public figure because “one of us” was rising to prominence and perhaps to notable success. Somehow, in spite of that strong consciousness of racial identity, I grew up in the 1970s as a child of integrated schools and as someone who was far less worried about having my race held against me. Forty years after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, I look upon these issues of identity with more nuance and complexity, and I continue to discern what is possible because of the civil rights movement as well as the work that remains for us to move forward as a country that truly provides equal opportunity for all citizens. For our final event of the year, CACE is privileged to have on campus Dr. Charles Marsh, Professor of Religious Studies (Christian Theology) and Director of the Project on Lived Theology at the University of Virginia. Dr. Marsh will be here to lecture on the 40th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination to help us think about the MLK ethical legacy and where we can advance it in our current climate. A recent article from Dr. Marsh is included below for your reflection. Please join us here on April 4 as we continue to discern how to reflect the ethics of God’s kingdom in the 21st century.

Vince Bacote, Director of CACE


Upcoming Events:

“Redemption, Reconciliation and Creation of Beloved Community: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Christian Vision”Friday, April 4, 3:30 pm
Blanchard 339
Lecture by Dr. Charles Marsh. Dr. Marsh is a Professor of Religion and Director of the Project on Lived Theology at the University of Virginia.

All CACE events are free and open to the public unless otherwise stated.


Dr. Charles Marsh, From the Article "Dr. King's Kitchen"

Christian Ethics Today/Journal of Christian Ethics, vol. 11 issue 1 winter 2005

It has been a difficult year for the Christian witness in the United States. In fact, it’s hard for me to imagine a period in my lifetime when the integrity of the Christian faith has not more compromised or threatened—and I grew up Baptist in the Jim Crow South! The widespread misuse by religious and political elites of the language of faith and the “philosophy of Jesus Christ” is absolutely heartbreaking; no doubt the integrity and mystery of the faith has been cheapened in our zeal to be Christian patriots. Perhaps we should heed Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s sobering advice in his letters and papers from prison that at such times a period of holy silence is in order.

Over the past, I have been trying to complete a book about the civil rights movement and the American search for “beloved community.” Throughout this year of writing and solitude, my thoughts have returned time and again to Martin Luther King Jr.’s sermon at Riverside Church in New York on April 4, 1967, delivered one year to the date of his assassination in Memphis. King’s sermon is haunting in its fierce urgency and righteous anger. With the nation unhinged by riots and uprisings and by the rising specter of Vietnam, with the dream fast becoming a nightmare, King’s sermon came as a lament for the soul of a nation, and I think as tellingly, as a lament for the Christian church, reeling like a drunken man between political expediency and self-serving ambition.

Dr. Marsh is a Professor of Religion and Director of the Project on Lived Theology at the University of Virginia. His writings include The Beloved Community: How Faith Shapes Social Justice, From the Civil Rights Movement to Today and God's Long Summer: Stories of Faith and Civil Rights.