It is quite appropriate that the (actual) birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. falls on the 9th Day of Defiance in the AUR calendar, in the middle of Nika Week, which commemorates a moment when competing factions joined together to stand against oppression in the Byzantine Empire just as the multiracial crowds that gathered before Dr. King joined together to stand against Jim Crow oppression in the United States.
But Martin Luther King is significant to AUR for other reasons, not only his ecumenical attitude but also the purity of the way he often spoke of God’s relationship with Creation, and his commitment of character to the will of God.
For example, after visiting India, King said, “In a real sense, Mahatma Gandhi embodied in his life certain universal principles that are inherent in the moral structure of the universe, and these principles are as inescapable as the law of gravitation.”
Not merely for his clearly God-inspired Dream and Mountaintop speeches, not merely for his powerful work for the poor and oppressed, but in his insistence that moral and spiritual laws were as much a part of the structure of the universe as physical law, Martin Luther King’s message is important to AUR.
So many who claim monotheism nevertheless speak of God as an alien in His own Creation, where moral law is in constant bitter conflict with natural law. This Manichean vision confesses the falsity of its “god” and its ignorance of the God of Creation. For true monotheists, God’s law is the law by which Creation is made, and its progress toward righteousness is inherent in the fabric of nature. While never denying the harsh realities of the world, Dr. King nevertheless asserted that “the long arc of history bends toward justice.” God’s law and natural law are ultimately one.
Before his assassination on Thursday, April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King also exemplified commitment of character which is central to AUR soteriology. During his Mountaintop speech, King recognized the bitter cup before him, was honest about his desire to have it taken from him, but drank it down nevertheless.
“Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will.”
Memphis was King’s Gethsemane, and his emulation of Jesus was impeccable.