On the top row of my library shelves is a book titled ‘’The World Treasury of Modern Religious Thought’’ It is a book that I re visit between making a decision of what to read next. It contains over 100 contributions. Essays from Karl Marx ‘’The Opium of the People’’ – Albert Schweitzer ‘’Reverence for Life’’ – the work oft quoted by Kevin Rudd ‘’Letters from Prison’’ by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘’Autobiography’’ Other writers include, Solzhenitsyn, Schweitzer, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nietzsche. None however is more earnestly satisfying than Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham City Jail”.
The world recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of Kings historically important ‘’I have a Dream’’ speech but this masterpiece of literature. This sublime piece of eloquent prose is apt to be overlooked. King wrote this letter in longhand after being arrested and placed in jail. His words convey all the force of a man unrelenting in his desire for a better place in a world full of racism and bigotry. But he does so with a powerful, but dignified calmness that is breathtaking.
I never tire of re reading this masterpiece of writing. It stirs me that men of his ilk have written words that command attention. When we read works like this, we should do so with the view to being radically changed. This letter did so for me.
I mentioned Kings work to one of my Facebook friends who is an avid reader of fine literature. His name is Daniel Carr and this is what he had to say.
John – I hope you’re well. Just wanted to say thank you for recommending Martin Luther King’s ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’ to me. I somehow only got around to reading it this morning and have been reflecting on it all day. A beautiful piece of writing – and with such heart behind it!
The themes of just and unjust laws and the moral failure of telling a minority group ‘wait, in time’ were particularly resonant.
Anyhow – thanks again for passing it on, it’s always good to read something moving to keep our vigilance and fire up our spirits.
If you also want your spirits fired up here is the link.