411 Focus

I can see why Rev. King respected this German. He saw a parallel.

Contributed By:Dorothy Nevils maslivend@sbcglobal.net

Lessons from the Reformation...

October 31 means one thing to most people: Halloween, or All Hallows’ Eve, or the evening (hence, “Eve”) before All Saints’ Day. The costumes were supposed to fool the spirits that would be roaming around that night, and treats, I think, were sort of like bribes for people’s safety. Kids don’t care a whole bunch about that, though. They just want to go out and beg for a lot of sugar, count it, tumble into bed, and wake up with a stomach ache.

This year, for a lot of people, October 31 has a very special significance. It’s the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, a monumental event in religious history, for it marks the date that a German monk changed history, and Protestant churches are celebrating like there is no tomorrow!

Maybe you know about him, but a lot of folks don’t. This man that made such a difference was Martin Luther, a name that means little in most faith circles in this area. Raised in the red clay hills of Southern Illinois, I’d never seen nor heard that name. It wasn’t in any of the books I studied in school.

Yet, one man, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, was so moved by Luther that he changed his name from Michael to Martin Luther. His son, also a minister, adopted the name.

Growing up, I had no idea of the impact Martin Luther had on Western religion, and only came to appreciate him well into my adult years. Coming from an enslaved people who were shackled and dragged to a land stolen from the Native “Americans,” I, like my kin, was familiar only with what slaves had emulated from their masters.

However, I can see why Rev. King respected this German. He saw a parallel. Like Luther, he struggled against what had been fed to him, and, like Luther, sought a deeper understanding. He, like Luther, perceived an injustice in what was passed off as truth, and so, like Luther, rejected it.

Today, people cry that religion has been taken out of the schools, but I see nothing wrong with teaching religion to students. I believe our students would benefit from learning about the different religions just like any other subject, just as we teach and study history, or literature, or health… I think we only benefit from knowledge.

We benefit also from questioning, from challenging, from sorting through what is opened to us and discovering our own truths.

There is a difference between indoctrination and learning. I think we should allow, should create a space… for examining, for challenging, for discovering in our classrooms. Right now, we basically tell and expect our students to repeat what they hear… and we are unlikely to change.

As a result, our students don’t get a chance to challenge ideas, to run them around their brains…and so fail to find, or define, their own.

Martin Luther the monk, and Martin Luther the preachers, challenged what was “fed” to them. As a result, a system that satisfied – and rewarded – the group in power was shaken so powerfully that the “people” found their voices.

Is that something we really ought to begrudge our children?

Story Posted:10/28/2017

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