Now that Daniel James Levy has adopted the weekly blog post dedicated to the writings of N.T. Wright it is time that I write on someone else. For the next while I have chosen Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. After reading portions of Strength to Love (reprint by Fortress Press, 2010) it became evident that I should read more of this man’s writings. Today will be my first post.
In a sermon titled “A Tough Mind and a Tender Heart” based on Matthew 10.16 (“Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”) Dr. King says the following:
“Who doubts that this toughness of mind is one of man’s greatest needs? Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.
“This prevalent tendency toward soft mindedness is found in man’s unbelievable gullibility. Take our attitude toward advertisement. We are so easily led to purchase a product because a television or radio advertisement pronounces it better than any other. Advertisers have long since learned that most people are soft minded, and they capitalize on this susceptibility with skillful and effective slogans.
“This undue gullibility is also seen in the tendency of many readers to accept the printed word of the press as final truth. Few people realize that even our authentic channels of information – the press, the platform, and in many instances the pulpit – do not give us objective and unbiased truth. Few people have the toughness of mind to judge critically and to discern the true from the false, the fact from the fiction. Our minds are constantly being invaded by legions of half-truths, prejudices, and false facts. One of the great needs of mankind is to be lifted above the morass of false propaganda.” (Strength to Love, pp. 2-3)
Dr. King exposes what the same thing the show Mad Men exposes regarding advertisements. He debunks the “Fair and Balanced” claim of propaganda machines like Fox News. He deconstructs society with the precision of Jacques Derrida. Oh, and by the way, he says all of this about culture more than five decades ago. Seems like little has changed, huh?