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Urban Concerns

 

Auld Lang Syne  

It seems like no matter how much hope chimes in the New Year; despair is riding under her garments of celebration. As each ear rings in the year with Auld Lang Syne, the apocalypse is whispering, “It ain’t necessarily so.”

Dr. King and his colleagues may have felt that way as they marched out of the 1950s into the 1960s. His many speeches echoed the sentiments of those who trusted him. King echoed how they all were climbing the mountains of despair and bathing in the summers of their discontent. Daily and legally, they consumed meals of segregation, discrimination, and other forms of racism.

As 2015 gave way to 2016, many believed they were seeing a resurgence of the “Good Old South.” This would-be resurrection launches us back into the age of the 1960s; where we once again hear the voices of inequality screaming from one end of our nation to the other. The 1950s and 1960s seemed very much alive as we closed 2015. The social issues of blacks and browns took center stage again last year as some marched to the drumbeat of Black Lives Matter and immigration from South America. Still, the more things change the more they stay the same, an old adage retorts.

Like us, Dr. King dreamed of a better world. He was aware of the inability of our nation to move forward while stuck in a debilitating past. King knew there could be no advancing motion without a unified strategy that was political and spiritual. Human ingenuity empowered by divine providence was the only sure way onward.

Beginning with the poor, not just the black poor but everyone who was poor, King worked out a philosophy of success. This was outlined in his book, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community. Written in 1967, King identified the failures of the United States as it related to destitution. In a chapter entitled, “Where We Are Going,” King explains his position. Categorizing poverty as “evil” along with a host of debilitating siblings, King explained the only way to create hope in the midst of their cultural storms was to champion equality. Yes, an equality that would push against the sins of scarceness in America first and then spread out into a dying world.

It Is and Is Not a Different World 

Mysteriously, the evils that King identified in the late sixties are very similar to issues we are battling today nationally. In the chapter “Where We Are Going,” King speaks of the lack of education, restricted job opportunities, poor housing, stultified home life, and fragile family relationships as vital concerns. Mourning the fact that there has been no coordinated attack upon these siblings of poverty by the government, Dr. King is disturbed about a future with hope. According to King, some of the harbingers that aided their pass fiascoes were things that moved on the whims of legislative bodies, educational bureaucratic stalling, indirect programs, and superficial research as it relates to family health.

Astonishingly, it does not seem like a very different world from our own. Many of us are intimately aware of the contemporary nature of King’s apprehensions. After decades of intervention by our government, the resolutions to our burdensome times sound like yesterday’s news. King suggested full employment along with guaranteed salaries adjusted to inflation as a primary solution. Through well-coordinated, aptly implemented social programs, the eradication of evil, i.e., poverty and all its kin in America, would breathe its last. Comprehensive honest work and a caring government advocating the equality of the poor would bring the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.    

Now, I am not sufficiently familiar with Dr. King’s book to know if he identified a particular wage that would usher in their age of peace. However, today that price tag comes in at fifteen dollars an hour, the new living wage.

While it’s obvious that so much of yesterday’s dilemmas are reflected in today’s nightmares, we have some unembellished differences. Black families during King’s time were stressed but better unified. Today they are disintegrating. Seventy-two percent of our children are born out of wedlock. Approximately thirty percent of our babies are sacrificed in their mother’s womb, while we constitute only thirteen percent of the population. Dr. King would have stressed marriage before sex. Our modern sexuality is in a moral free fall. Currently, we have transgendered bathrooms for the young and old. Same sex marriages are the new norm while others are now demanding polyandry. There are whispers of the acceptance of pedophilia as America adjusts to its sexual revolution. We no longer speak of LGBT. We are LGBTQQIAA. I believe Dr. King would have been astonished.

We Can Still Have Dreams   

As Dr. King spoke of chaos or community, it’s difficult to believe he had our present days completely in mind. I am sure he could not fully envision a time in which Christ’s church would seem publicly and privately irrelevant.

And he is correct.

Rising above a projected 20 trillion dollars in national debt is the good news of Christ. Walking in between street gangs and fatherless kids is the Lamb of God.

First, He is calling to His followers; you can still have dreams. These are dreams that no social establishments can compress. Jesus Christ can guide us to that community that America is blindingly chasing after and substituting every good deed instituted by God for their debauched ones.

Only the people of God can help a rejecting nation realize that a government resting on the shoulders of God can hold the line on evil until Christ’s return. This is how the body of Christ can aid those outside His covenant dreams. Today, like Dr. King, we are calling upon our fellow Americans to rise above our present reality. Following in our Christian tradition, we are challenging our country to utilize every God-given tool to reject our modern nihilism.

In communion with King, the body of Christ is saying there is no room for federal, state, and local programs as part of God’s solutions. Yes, we can still have dreams, but only if they are consistent with Christ’s call for godly strivings. We can have unmitigated hope in the midst of cultural storms by reconnecting with Jesus Christ. To do otherwise is to celebrate a false sense of community as we create chaos.

 

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Hosea Baxter, MA, Hosea is Professor of Urban Leadership at Crossroads Bible College. Professor Baxter holds a BA in Religious Studies from Martin University, conducted graduate studies at Christian Theological Seminary, and graduated from Martin University with a Master’s degree in urban ministry and education (Summa Cum Laude). At the age of twenty-two, Hosea married Karen Ann (Paicely) Baxter. They have been married for over thirty-three years. They are the proud parents of four children: Sean, Monique, Stephanie, and Brittany; and are the grandparents of eight.

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