“I was an undergraduate student at Rochester College, doing a Bachelor of Science in Biblical Studies, and one of my professors had assigned Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail,’" the rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Grand Haven wrote.
It was the following segment of King’s letter that most affected Cramer:
“I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers,” King wrote. “First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a ‘more convenient season.’ Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”
Although King’s letter was written many years before he was born, Cramer said he recognized the impulses of the "white moderate" in his own life and thinking, and not only in race relations.
“I recognized how those impulses had led me to mitigate support for the full role of women in the ministry of the church in which I was raised,” Cramer wrote. “I recognized how easy it was for me, as a straight white male, to take a ‘moderate’ position on the question of freedom for another human being, and how sin-saturated that position truly was.
“I repented then and I have sought to renew that repentance regularly,” he added.
Cramer further relates that the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month shocked him — but in more ways than the typical reaction.
“It is shocking to me because I am largely insulated from the experiences of people of color in our country,” he wrote. “It is shocking to me because I do not experience what they experience.”
Read the complete blog post: “On Charlottesville: The Need for Renewed Repentance and Clear Action.”
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