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544: MLK, Reparations, & the Benefits of Awe


Martin Luther King Jr. is widely celebrated today, but that wasn’t the case when he was killed in 1968. Esau McCaulley’s editorial explains how King’s current popularity comes from the tendency to cherry pick a few MLK quotes about race, but conveniently overlook his more controversial sermons about poverty, justice, and reparations. What does it mean to take King’s words seriously today? Then, scientists have discovered the enormous psychological benefits of awe—the simultaneous feeling of overwhelming wonder and one’s own insignificance. But are they simply affirming what every religion has known forever, and why have evangelicals given up on awe-inspiring architecture? Plus, the remarkable longevity of a lost turtle.


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News Segment


0:00 - Intro


3:33 - Animal News


11:14 - Martin Luther King, Jr. Discussion


18:33 - MLK continued; reparations



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38:03 - The value of AWE and WONDER



Links mentioned in news segment:


“Missing Pet Tortoise Found In Attic 30 Years Later — Still Alive And Well” - https://www.thedodo.com/daily-dodo/missing-family-pet-tortoise-lost-for-30-years-found-in-attic-still-alive-and-well



“The Kind of Revolution That Martin Luther King Jr. Envisioned” by Esau McCaulley (New York Times Opinion) - https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/15/opinion/martin-luther-king-woke-reparations.html


“How A Bit of Awe Can Improve Your Health” by Hope Reese (New York Times) - https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/03/well/live/awe-wonder-dacher-keltner.html


Other resources:


The Divine Commodity by Skye Jethani - https://amzn.to/3XiaOLh


Holy Post Race in America Video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGUwcs9qJXY


The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee - https://amzn.to/3iPTvSK



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13 Comments


trevecca okholm
trevecca okholm
Jan 19, 2023

While working out at the gym this morning, I kept joining in on your conversation about AWE & WONDER . . . but you guys wouldn't let me get a word in, so I'm sending my comments here instead. (You're welcome.)


FIRST comment: In response to Skye's comment on VanGogh: I give you this quote from Kierkegaard on the awe and wonder of the night sky


"Displays of fireworks hold our attention with increasing levels of dazzlement.

They start at a modest pace,

then become louder,

with more brilliant colors,

going ever higher into the night sky,

until with one final burst of noise and brilliance and color it is all over.

The creators of firework shows have to produce…


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Good conversation about MLK's legacy, and how we sometimes choose to remember him rather than look to his words & actions over his years in the trenches. The conversation over reparations is a hard one, and frankly uncomfortable for this 50 yr old white guy. But its difficult to sweep hundreds of years of 'putting broken glass in their lane' as Phil stated a while back. Mayor Carter of St Paul, MN is a leading figure in getting creative in this arena. https://www.mprnews.org/story/2023/01/16/st-paul-to-offer-rondo-descendants-up-to-100000-to-buy-homes-build-wealth

A bit of back story here. The Rondo neighborhood was a predominantly Black neighborhood that was bulldozed for the path of I-94 thru St Paul. The history & culture demolished in service to this freeway is document…

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Replying to

As a former Eagan and Wayzata resident, I’m impressed.

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i am following Phil’s attempts to calmly discuss/dialog about different aspects of Scripture with different people on Twitter. Some seem to come willing to dialog while others appear to be trolling and looking for controversy. It really saddens me. The same is true when I read some of Beth Moore’s beautiful and often funny tweets. Like many of the theobros and certain Evangelical leaders on Twitter, some who respond to Phil seem to delight in calling out so called “heresy” and/or “anti-Christian” beliefs.


Why am I talking about this? Before I retired from K-12 education, I was trained, as are most public school educators, as a mandated reporter for abuse. Unfortunately, a few times, I needed to “report”. In one…


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Replying to

Sorry about the typos. When I’m using my keypad on my IPhone, I have as much accuracy as a toddler with a toy replica. Add in my readers, and it’s an error waiting to happen.

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Another wonderful episode! I loved listening to the different perspectives on the different topics you presented.

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Mark Norman
Mark Norman
Jan 19, 2023

Read and listen too whoever you'd like but Shapiro said what he said about MLK to suggest we shouldn't be celebrating him. Its basically the conservative rebuttal to the condemnation of Columbus, our slave-owning "forefathers", and Confederate "heroes". As with everything "both sides," it's all a matter of degree and it's not even close.


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