Strength to Love

[openbook booknumber=”0800614410″]


Martin Luther King, Jr.’s book Strength to Love is a book that contains several of MLK’s key sermons printed and bound all in one place. It was a free gift that I received at the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards of 2002. Yes, I am only now getting around to reading it. This is one book that I should not have put off reading.

I am not normally a very religious person. There is a lot about religion that I find disgusting, hypocritical and at times down right hateful towards various people based on things as flimsy as gender, color, sexual orientation and lifestyle choice. I say flimsy because at the same time religion (any religion) tends to say that we are all equal before God and that it is our soul that He values above everything else. This book gave me new faith.

Most of the sermons – such as A Tough Mind and a Tender Heart, On Being a Good Neighbor, Love in Action, and Loving Your Enemies – talk about that exact problem with religion and with humanity. MLK’s urgings to love everyone regardless of personal differences and to stand up for what you believe in regardless of what other people think about it were very inspiring and moving. These sermons gave me hope, realizing that people (religious people) once thought like this and believed in it very strongly. They also helped strike home how very little of this type of rhetoric is heard anymore in the religious community.

This faith transforms the whirlwind of despair into a warm and reviving breeze of hope. The words of a motto which a generation ago were commonly found on the wall in the homes of devout persons need to be etched on our hearts:
Fear knocked at the door.
Faith answered.
There was no one there.

I was reading this book at the same time that I was reading M*A*S*H, so I was reading two books that talked about events in the 1950’s. The time trip was very interesting, and to hear their takes on communism, women’s rights, minority rights, etc was intriguing and was like looking through a window back in time.

The eerie part of this book would have to be the sermons where MLK talks about his own death. Both the possibility of it’s occurrence and his fears about it and how that all related to his faith and trust in God. In the end he trusted to God and if God decided it was his time to go that he was ready to accept it. Very brave and strong words considering the world he lived in, and they definitely shed a new light on his assassination. His strength to love in spite of the odds he faced and his ultimate fate was probably the most profoundly powerful aspect of the book.

A must-read for Christians everywhere.

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