aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,
aefenglommung
aefenglommung

Grump grump grump

I tried to call somebody at Hebrew-Union Seminary today, and got a recording. Oh, yeah, it's Martin Luther King Day. So, I thought I'd go run the errands that I have to get done. Wait a minute, can't go to the bank today, they're closed. It's Martin Luther King Day. That means no mail, either. It's Martin Luther King Day. *sigh*

Martin Luther King is a secular saint. His holiday has become a day of civic obligation observed by government employees and (most) schools. Everybody else trying to get stuff done is inconvenienced by it. I don't begrudge King his remembrance. I'm all for civil rights and the uplifting of minorities. But I can't help but remember that one of the gripes that the Reformers had about medieval Catholicism was its proliferation of saints' days upon which no work could be done.

I also note that we mainline Protestants tend to canonize good causes rather than good persons. We have Human Relations Day, UM Student Day, One Great Hour of Sharing, World Communion Sunday, etc. Even Aldersgate Day, the anniversary of John Wesley's conversion experience, has merged into the mostly unobserved Heritage Day. In this melange of slovenly remembrance and special offerings, Martin Luther King stands out as unique: the only "saint" most Protestants remember in church. Oh, they'll take their sweethearts out for dinner on (St.) Valentine's Day, and they'll wear green (and the older ones lift a glass) for St. Patrick's Day, but the cult of the saints is pretty much dead among us United Methodists and other low church types.

And why do I say that Martin Luther King is a "secular" saint? King stands out in people's minds, even among the clergy, not for his religious activity and relationships, but for his political activity and relationships. For progressive clergy, who are more into politics than religion (or, rather, for whom politics = religion), King is their kind of saint. Evangelicals honor King, too, since they also care about the poor and the disenfranchised, but their remembrances are more relational and less programmatic, I think.

Our other secular saints (Washington, Lincoln) get Presidents Day, and it's coming right up. You can't get much done then, either. I wonder why I never hear any clergy exhortations to civic virtue on that day? Used to be; Washington and Lincoln are passé, I suppose. Anyway, I guess I'll get paperwork done today, since I can do that without having to connect with the outside world.
Subscribe

  • Point of view in LOTR

    One of the achievements of The Lord of the Rings is its complicated narrative architecture. Stories are interlaced and we follow, now this sub-plot,…

  • Arthur contra mundum

    The consensus opinion among Tolkien critics -- including those who greatly admire his work -- is that The Lord of the Rings is slow to get going,…

  • Not all ancient institutions are good

    The institutions of the Roman Republic have cast a long shadow over western government. Even our Founders paid close attention to the Roman model,…

  • Post a new comment

    Error

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 3 comments