MLK and Karen Armstrong

10929967_10206041938231853_5064821061201763621_nIn the midst of a long ride on this absolutely gorgeous MLK day. Temperatures almost near 70°. Lots of people out here enjoying the day. Almost no wind and I’m just flying around.

My companion on my past few rides has been Karen Armstrong’s new book “Fields of Blood.” I’m “reading” a great audiobook version, featuring the author’s own lovely British accent.

This is a deeply important book about a deeply important subject: The relationship of religion and violence.

Armstrong does a marvelous job holding all religions to account for the violence in their individual traditions. However, she does an equally important thing: she emphatically shows that not only have religions *not* caused all wars, but that they are often a mediating influence that  has often helped to reduce human violence.

t1larg.mlkIn our culture, there’s no more obvious day to remember this than on the day we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As the movie Selma reminds us, King was compelled forward in his vision of nonviolent change by his Christian faith, and not just the teachings of Gandhi.

King showed us that imperialistic power that always sought the baptism of Christianity could also be dismantled by that same Christian faith.

We do well to remember this in our own time, when religious people are routinely lampooned as idiots by more secular members of our society, who often fail to it knowledge the common cause of justice that they hold with these religious persons.

There is indeed a place for atheists, secularists, and other folks in movements  for social change. But there is also a place for those whose faith compel them to social action and the cause of justice.

There’s no better day to remember this than today.


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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He is Senior Pastor of The Woods United Methodist Church in Grand Prairie, Texas. For seventeen years, he was pastor at Northaven UMC in Dallas, Texas. Eric is an avid blogger and published author. Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy.

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