The title tells the tale of a dichotomous man: Reverend. Doctor.
One foot planted squarely in two separate and seemingly incongruent worlds.
One hand lifted in triumphant exultation. The other, extended low to uplift the downtrodden, the unseen disenfranchised, the unheard and underserved, the suffering masses.
A solemn voice that pierces the silence in whispered alms to an all seeing, all knowing God. The other shouting from 'mountaintops,' commanding the consideration of those with ears to hear what the Spirit of the Lord would say.
His head lifted in high praise and adoration, brought low in the defiant posture of non-violent protest. His decorous declarations ringing in freedom from behind the bars of a Birmingham cell -- daring to call forth those things that be not as though they were.
A Nobel peace prize winner gloriously lauded from a Stockholm stage juxtaposed against a reception of billy clubs and tear gas on a bridge from Selma one Bloody Sunday afternoon.
On the one hand, a conductor of the civil rights engine. On the other, a mere man cloaked in the innocuous garb of a humble minister of the Gospel.
I would surmise that it is in the posture of Reverend that Doctor King is least understood.
From an early age, he struggled to reconcile the role of religion in a dynamically changing world or to define 'purpose' in the context of a generation.
At Morehouse, he learned to balance the intellectual stimuli of the theological discipline with the emotive construct of his deep Baptist roots.
At Boston University, he studied the great modern theologians, deducing that the role of the church must be to illuminate a way of life rather than a static system of beliefs.
In practice, he lived a form of Christianity that demonstrated "the power of God in human experience."
His desire was to both "spread the message as the master taught" and to stamp out the evil of injustice in its varied and incendiary forms though committed action.
He reminded us that Good Friday came before Easter as a way of illustrating Christ's progression from death, penultimate burial to Resurrection. In his life he clearly understood that there would be suffering. "We must bear the cross," he said.
If his life's work could be summarized in a single thesis, it would be found in his final sermon entitled The Drum Major Instinct" based on the passage in Mark 10:35-45 that depicts man's incessant quest for supremacy.
"If you want to be great..." he cried out in the prolonged cadence of his denominational heritage, "... you must serve others!"
He lived by faith with love, justice, and truth as the triumvirate of his legacy.
He was unparalleled in his ability to inculcate two worlds as divergent as "church" and "state."
Like Jesus, he was singular in purpose, misunderstood even in the context of his times, taken far too soon, but leaving the next generation with the formula for success: to be of service to others.
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