Dr. Martin Luther King, whose birthday we celebrate today, infused the spiritual into American politics as no one else has–at least since Lincoln. His “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 was one of the great uplifting moments in American history. “With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope,” King told the assembled crowd.
Before he became widely known, Dr. King addressed a church congregation in my home town of Detroit, and explained how faith inspired his political vision.
“There is something wrong with our world, something fundamentally and basically wrong,” he told a Detroit congregation in 1954. “The great problem facing modern man,” he said, “is that . . . the means by which we live have outdistanced the spiritual ends for which we live. . . . The problem is with man himself and man’s soul.”
Those words illuminate our current political culture with a light that is sadly lacking in today’s discourse.