Obama Wins the Nobel Peace Prize. How Should We Respond?

For those who seem so distraught over the fact that Barack Obama is now a Nobel Laureate I have an history lesson.

When, on December 10, 1964, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King accepted the Nobel Peace Prize, he began his speech with the following words:

I accept the Nobel Prize for Peace at a moment when 22 million Negroes of the United States of America are engaged in a creative battle to end the long night of racial injustice. I accept this award on behalf of a civil rights movement which is moving with determination and a majestic scorn for risk and danger to establish a reign of freedom and a rule of justice. I am mindful that only yesterday in Birmingham, Alabama, our children, crying out for brotherhood, were answered with fire hoses, snarling dogs and even death. I am mindful that only yesterday in Philadelphia, Mississippi, young people seeking to secure the right to vote were brutalized and murdered. And only yesterday more than 40 houses of worship in the State of Mississippi alone were bombed or burned because they offered a sanctuary to those who would not accept segregation. I am mindful that debilitating and grinding poverty afflicts my people and chains them to the lowest rung of the economic ladder.

Therefore, I must ask why this prize is awarded to a movement which is beleaguered and committed to unrelenting struggle; to a movement which has not won the very peace and brotherhood which is the essence of the Nobel Prize.

I wasn’t around at the time, but I rather suspect Dr. King was addressing his American critics who must certainly have suggested that he really hadn’t yet achieved anything worthy of a Peace Prize. Continue reading

The Nexus of Prejudice and Fear

This article appeared on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum on January 15, 2007. It headlined the religion section of the UPI’s main page that day.

Today is the day set aside to celebrate the birth and to honor the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I’ve always felt this holiday to be a good day to take stock of how far we have come and how far we have yet to journey along the path toward building a society that honors and celebrates the beautiful diversity of the human family, but this year is different for me. Issues of race and society feel closer. Continue reading

Defending Religion

This column ran on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality website on December 4, 2006. It also headlined the main UPI website’s religion section that day.

I no longer feel the need to defend God. It seems to me that God is fairly well beyond the reach of human ill-will, and even if God were not so remote, God hardly would need my help in the face of a human assault on the Divine Person.

But religion is different. Continue reading