The following talk is from Simon Sinek at the latest TED conference (Technology, Entertainment, Design). Some of what he says concerning evolutionary biology is suspect; however, he does have a LOT to say about rhetoric, leadership, and innovation.
Some of my favorite quotes:
“People don’t buy what you do, but why you do it.”
“There are leaders and then there are those who lead.”
A few weeks ago I wrote a piece about how the historical words and prophetic witness of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has been hijacked by a recapitulated, 21st century King of our own creation. This week I was reminded that this happens all too often with theologians.
How quickly do people “proof text” history! Reading back their own prejudices, cultural norms, and theological prejudices into theologians of history. I once heard a professor say that a colleague of his during his PhD program once said concerning Wesley, “I didn’t become interested the life and death of John Wesley until I found that he could support my view of liberation theology.”
I am auditing Theology of John Wesley this semester. I have already taken it for credit with another professor at my school, but I ended up learning a lot more about Jonathan Fletcher than I did John Wesley. It is imperative to have a proper, historically accurate exegesis (out of) of John Wesley and not an improper, ahistorical eisegesis (into the history) of Wesley. I know my current professor pretty well and he joked with me before class that there are many “versions of Wesley” out there. He gave us some of the following caricatures or interpretations of John Wesley:
- The circuit rider on horseback
- The Rebel Wesley – social Justice
- The Neglected Wesley
- The outdated Wesley
- The hypocritical Wesley
- The Fletcher Wesley (this is the one I got my first time taking the class)
- The Pious Wesley
- The Eastern Orthodox Wesley
- The self-absorbed Wesley
- The Momma’s Boy Wesley
- The Pentecostal Wesley (I added this one myself)
- AND THE MOST POPULAR: The Misquoted Wesley
W.W.K.D.? I became captivated by this acronym on a small cardboard sign held by a hippy-looking old man at the Freedom March for Martin Luther King day this morning in downtown Lexington, KY. WHAT WOULD KING DO? I looked around a lot this morning and thoroughly enjoyed the festivities, songs, marching, and presentation afterward (Daniel Beaty’s EMERGENCY was ironic, hilarious, and poetic), but… WHAT WOULD KING DO?
More to the point, “What version of Martin Luther King are we remembering today?” At times I have to agree with Dr. Cornell West about our modern view of King, “You see a lot of chit-chat about Martin every year and Martin has been so domesticated and tamed and defamed, you know, what we call the Santa Clausification of the brother.” (you can watch the entire West interview on PBS here). By “Santa Clausification” West is referring to how Rev. King has been repackaged as a nice old man who gives us positive and inspiring speeches, presents, and … a holiday.
What about remembering the Martin Luther King who the F.B.I once said was, “The most dangerous man in America?” Or what about King’s declaration against the Vietnam war? King was so dangerous because he wasn’t motivated by the usual factors: political office, money, power, ect. King was motivated by the Love of Christ that would not relent because “injustice anywhere was a threat to justice everywhere.”
No … an assassination and cover-up plot couldn’t stop King’s message. But I’ll tell you what could (I’ll give you a hint… it’s what slowed the Church down). It is lethargy, apathy, and memorialism. What are we marching for these days in America? Or more importantly, What AREN’T we marching for? Why are we so silent? Why has MLK day been hijacked by neo-liberalism and forgotten by the Church? Why don’t we remember King by living as lovers of justice?
What Would King Do?