The Mountaintop as the Valley of the Shadow: Martin Luther King Jr. and Prophetic Visions from Below

Posted on March 6, 2017 by PLT Staff

Lecture given by Larycia Hawkins at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA (February 2017). Aiming to complicate theology from above and the vision of the beloved community, also known as the Kingdom of God in America, the presentation considers our contemporary selves through the lenses of history, namely Martin Luther King Jr. By examining the rhetoric and religious appeals in King’s “I’ve been to the Mountaintop” speech, Hawkins traces shifts in King’s theology through the idea of theodicy into a narrative on the sacredness of bodies, through which each of us actualize lived theology. She ends with a discussion on past and present prophets, concluding that we must all be in embodied solidarity with the suffering in the valleys as we work toward the mountaintops of hope and equality for all. The lecture begins at the 4:06 mark. To find a listing of all our Occasional Lectures, click here.

Excerpt: “Bodies are sacred, not just because the divine breathed life of Mother Earth into you. Bodies are sacred in their occupation of space and place. Bodies do not exist alternatively in sacred/secular, public/private space. Not a continuum between, in theopolitical space. In the black sacred cosmos, the space is always political, and this has nothing to do with the civil rights movement and churches becoming these spaces where activism happened. But it also has everything to do with the civil rights movement. It’s because in the West African worldview, sacred and secular are suffuse. They are not separate. It also has to do with the hermeneutic of a God of the oppressed: Jesus. So the civil rights movement proceeded because it knew two things well: it knew pragmatism, it knew prophecy, and it knows that Jesus embodies politics. Not that Jesus does politics, Jesus is politics.”

  • Audio Information
  • Date Recorded:February 2017
  • Location Recorded:Charlottesville, VA
  • Audio File:Download File »
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