BOOK TWO of Ten that have shaped my life.
Strength to Love by Martin Luther King.
Sent to me, by a former schoolfriend, when I was in the Cairngorms of Scotland training to be an Outward Bound instructor. The book awakened me to the place of faith and its relevance to society. Published in 1963, the same year MLK delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech, the book is a collection of Kings sermons, with each chapter steeped in Scripture, revealing the passion of this Baptist pastor and prophet, whose faith led him to a philosophy of nonviolence.
He speaks out against war, injustice, racism and exploitation and the belief that America is not blessed above any other nation. He was an advocate for nonviolence and peace, a stance deemed treasonous by most Americans at the time. He urged citizens to embrace peaceableness, wise restraint and calm reasonableness, arguing that hate and hysteria are no answer to the problems of the world.
So proud of my ‘home town’, Newcastle University (where I did my MA) that was the first British university to give him an honorary degree, as a Doctor of Civil Law.
In one of the chapters in Strength to Love King wrote: “The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists, who are dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood… In any cause that concerns the progress of mankind, put your faith in the nonconformist!”
The seeds of nonconformity were being formed in me and were to flourish when soon after reading the book I came to faith, beginning the journey of following the radical, life-giving nonconformist, Christ.