It wasn't long before I understood what "Negro" really meant, but the twin dangers of black people and Communists in my parents' worldview were frequently confirmed. In the fall of 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated. After we were supposed to be asleep, I heard my mother ask my father for reassurance that Lyndon Johnson was up to the task of confronting the Soviets. And their anxieties also had a local focus: Beginning with a voluntary program in 1963, Evanston's schools were becoming integrated.
In those years, we lived right on the boundary line between black Evanston and white Evanston, but my elementary school, Miller School (now a Montessori school), was halfway to Lake Michigan and almost completely white. During my elementary years, our school superintendents Oscar Chute and, later, Gregory Coffin, were both very committed to integration, and my parents (as we children realized from those late-night overheard conversations) were emphatically not. Well, at least my mother was not. She was the one who grew up surrounded by Nazi ideology.
By 1968, I was in my first year of high school. I started my diary that year; little did I know on January 1 what a tumultuous year it would be. Most of my early entries were lists of television programs watched and (when baseball season started) White Sox scores. Hoyt Wilhelm, with his strange name and equally strange knuckleball pitch, was my hero that season. But normalcy came to an abrupt end on April 4, my younger sister's fourth birthday, when the electrifying and awful news came that Martin King had been killed.
The one thing I couldn't confess at school was the shock I felt at my mother's words, the very evening of King's death. I still remember the blonde end table next to the sofa where I was sitting; she sat on the other side. Between us was a table lamp with its brass base and spokes leading up to the socket and bulb. My mother said it served King right that he was murdered, because he had no right to bear the name of the great German reformer Martin Luther.
I suppose that I was still an atheist at that point, as were both my parents. But as I look back, I think my conversion may have begun with my attempts to confront and unravel that strange pronouncement. Soon after, I began to listen every Sunday night (surreptitiously, after bedtime) to the First Church of Deliverance radio broadcasts, hearing Rev. Clarence H. Cobbs pray for "the sick the shut-ins, and all those who love the Lord," always feeling strangely touched at that last phrase.
This meditation on April 4 ends with Martin Luther King's words to those who could not understand why he added a concern for peace and reconciliation to his racial justice portfolio. "Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the one who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them?" To Martin King, Clarence H. Cobbs, Oscar Chute, and Gregory Coffin: thank you for your part in making these words so real for me. From humane schoolteachers and from radio voices, even from violence and words of hate so close at hand, came a new home, a new worldview, and a new purpose that keeps me going to this day.
"Preaching when parched."
"What does the Gospel look like?"
"Ray Bradbury gives twelve pieces of advice to young writers."
A Better Atonement... How not to write a book review (but see surprise ending).
"So, what has your experience of mainline churches been like?"
Online matchmaking: Harvard Business School, "Do Online Dating Platforms Help Those Who Need Them the Most?" . . .
. . . and Melanie Springer Mock, "Finding the One in Cyberspace." "...I’m not [critiquing] online dating sites necessarily, but rather the language they use to promote their product...."
Vladimir Putin's friend "Kudrin's game: The Man in the Middle." And Friday PS: the Moscow Times, "Kudrin's Group to Offer Unsolicited Advice. " (Will eventually go behind paywall.)
"Pennsylvania high court rejects final Mumia appeal."
link to purchase:
Otis Spann, "Tribute to Martin Luther King"