King’s message, methods more meaningful than empty religion

I am a huge fan of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his message. Not the diluted anti-racism, pro-nonviolent protest platform the powers-that-be have boiled it down to. No, I’m talking about King’s unadulterated message, which continues to be both applicable and revolutionary today.

The civil rights movements succeeded in that it took down the white-and-colored signs of racism. But the real system that King protested is still alive, well, and whipping the crap out of the underprivileged.

I am one of those spiritual, but not religious, types who is constantly looking for inspiration and validation for my beliefs. While I understand where this becomes problematic (see Pat Robertson), I simply cannot respect a tome that contradicts itself yet expects me to believe every word verbatim as the Word of God.

So as you can see, I take everything with a grain of salt. I find it hard to believe that the teacher’s miracles are more important than his message, or that the disciples went from being numbskulls to infallible with a “rushing of wind and flame” that descended when, conveniently, they had no one else to vouch for them. Divine gullibility just isn’t my style.

King, however, was a modern-day prophet, to me at least, whose message is worth observing. He said, “True compassion is more than flinging a coin at a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.” The appalling distribution of wealth in our country is no mere trifle; the increasing concentration of wealth is no inevitability.

Until we restructure our system so that “pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps” isn’t just a feat a la “Cirque de Soleil,” in the words of Stephen Colbert, we should not be passively playing by its rules.

In the spiritual vein, King stated, “A religion true to its nature must also be concerned about a man’s economic conditions. Any religion that professes to be concerned with the souls of men and is not concerned with the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them, and the social conditions that cripple them, is a dry-as-dust religion.”

Don’t get me started on how much those “food-and-God” types piss me off. Handing an immigrant worker a free meal and an extra shirt does not give you the divine judicial authority to tell the poor soul he’s going to rot in hell any more than it gives me the right to smack you upside the head. Oh, sweet temptation.

And finally, Martin Luther King, Jr. says that, “The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood.”

I highly recommend taking up the horizontal-with-hope position, because I assure you, the action is incredible.

Bethany Quinn is a senior majoring in Latin American studies and photography. She may be contacted at