Quotes on Obama’s Rug, #2

Dear Reader,

Today I tackle the second quote from President Obama’s new rug. (See the introduction and part 1 here.) The next quote is from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and says: “The Arc of the Moral Universe is Long, But it Bends Towards Justice.” This one took me  a little longer to puzzle out. I think, if I am understanding it correctly, that it is my favorite. I don’t know what it says that of the five, the one that is not by a former president is my favorite.

Here is how I understand it: The universe is just. It does not always seem that way. But in the end, justice will be done. Another way to put it would be that we are travelling along on this arc. The journey is very long and it often seems to us that we are bending the wrong way. But our end point will be perfect justice. Sometimes when the wicked seem to prosper and the righteous suffer, it takes a lot of faith to believe that justice is coming.

If this is what Dr. King meant, I completely agree. It is a very biblical position. For the sake of argument, I will point out a couple of things. The first, which I presume Dr. King would agree with, is that this justice is not impersonal, but is God’s justice. Indeed we cannot even speak of justice or of right and wrong in a purely naturalistic world. And the justice we seek cannot be accomplished by us, sinful creatures that we are.

The second issue is the when of that justice. Namely, will it happen in this life, in the world as we know it? Or is it an end of the world thing? On the one hand, perfect justice will have to wait until the end of the world as we know it, until the new heavens and the new earth. But, is justice entirely delayed? If there is no movement towards justice in this life, Dr. King’s work would have been useless. I have a hard time believing he believed this. He must have believed we could, through God’s grace, accomplish something in this life. Certainly the Civil Rights movement achieved some successes. As did earlier the move to end slavery in this country. And yet worldwide, it is hard to see much advancement in human justice. We may be doing a lot better than we were here in this country but in other places that is not the case. I am not advocating not working for justice. But we must also be aware that our efforts will never eliminate injustice. In the context this quote arose from (Obama’s rug) I just feel it is necessary to point out that we cannot protest or legislate away all injustice.



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